Horticultural society marks 50 years

Ken Kellar

A local group celebrated its 50th anniversary over the weekend.

The Fort Frances Horticultural Society hosted an afternoon tea at the Fort Frances Public Library on Saturday in celebration of its milestone anniversary.

The horticultural society has been working to beautify the town and share gardening tips among its members since 1969.

Society president Judy Koski remarked that people might be surprised by just how much their members do around town.

“I don’t think that they realize that we do keep up a few flower beds here and there,” Koski said.

“[We look after] the CN station, there’s also the Good Neighbours sign out by McDonald’s Restaurant, we also assist here at the library and at Rainycrest and in years past also at the Salvation Army church.”

The Fort Frances Horticultural Society also recently hosted the district annual general meeting, a large undertaking for a group that averages about 20 members per meeting, though Koski estimates the society’s total membership is around 50 people.

One longtime member is Pam Makarchuk, who was celebrating a birthday on the same day she attended the afternoon tea.

“I joined when my mother was in the league,” Makarchuk said.

“My mother’s name was Rose Busch, and she was president for a number of years.”

According to other members at the tea, Busch was one of the founding members of the horticultural society.

“I’ve belonged ever since,” Makarchuk continued.

“I have a garden and I just love flowers and gardening, although I don’t do it any more.”

The society isn’t just for planting flowers around town. Koski explained that one of the constants at the monthly meetings are the information sessions.

“We have speakers throughout the season that come in and speak to us,” she said.

“Last month we had a flower arranging show. We try to bring in speakers that would be of interest to our members.”

The members at the tea were quick to share that the society is also a place to help others and share information about growing all kind of plants, flowers and vegetables. Makarchuk noted that helping each other out has always been important among the group.

“To share information and all that is good,” she said.

“And hopefully other people will catch on and learn to love it, too.”

On the topic of the group reaching its 50th year, Koski noted that a lot of people in the area have a green thumb, something that no doubt contributed to its longevity.

“Well, just the interest in gardening, I mean this is certainly an agricultural area,” Koski said.

“Everybody loves their flowers, everybody loves to beautify their homes and their gardens, and everybody loves their vegetables in the summertime. There’s lots of gardeners out there, so I think that’s why we’ve been in business for so long.”

For Makarchuk, reaching the 50th anniversary is almost a given.

“Well, I’m not surprised,” she remarked.

“It’s been a healthy club all these years, a lot of the years that I can remember.”

Koski invited everyone who’s curious about the group or wants to learn more about gardening to attend one of the society’s meetings.

“We meet at the Fort Frances Senior Centre on the fourth Monday at 6:30 p.m.,” she said.

“Anyone’s welcome to attend, we meet March through October.”

For her part, Makarchuk thinks that another 50 years for the horticultural society are a given.

“I’m sure. We have to eat, and might as well have a garden in our yard,” she said.

“I still enjoy it and I know people that do garden are happy people. They’re happy people.”