Nature’s Best Friends

In an age of hashtag activism, there are still a few, special people out there willing to get their hands dirty to make the world a better place.

One could not ask for a more beautiful example of civic spirit than that demonstrated by the Pioneer Garden Club of Ocala, which celebrates its 90th year of giving back in 2018.

The club formed on April 15 in 1927. At its peak, the club had more than 250 local volunteers. Today, the club continues to attract members from a variety of ages and backgrounds. From millennials looking to learn about organic gardening to retirees seeking ways to build fellowship with peers, the membership is diverse but all held together by a common goal.

“The club offers its members opportunities to be involved with local community efforts,” says Judy Greenburg, club president. “[We are here] to conserve natural resources, beautify public areas and advance the artistic use of plant materials.”

These objectives can be seen in loving, living color throughout Ocala, but there a few projects of which the club is especially proud.

Members collaborate with Silver Springs State Park staff to host workdays and workshops that invite locals to come in and help restore the health of the park. Participants learn time-tested practices for being successful gardeners as they work together to beautify four separate gardens that have been adopted by the club.

A major community enhancement project can be found at the northwest section of Tuscawilla Park as well. Here, one can admire the splendor of the Pioneer Garden of the Art Park—a beautification project that has been managed in partnership with the City of Ocala and the Marion Cultural Alliance.

The club also helps plant the seeds of curiosity with tomorrow’s community gardeners by hosting a series of workshops with the Marion County Library. These efforts include projects such as a monthly horticulture display and a Fun with Flowers workshop. This event teaches participants how to create their own flower arrangements (including a workshop designed especially for kids entitled, the Children’s Fairy Garden Workshop).

If you’d like to network with some like-minded green-thumbs (or would like to join as a group with a “circle” of your own gardening friends), club organizers encourage people to visit pioneergardenclub.org to learn more. It’s a great way to make some new friends as you befriend Mother Nature, right here in Ocala.

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