If you ever go for a drive around Suffield, it’s likely you will see some of the work completed by the Suffield Garden Club. The group is responsible for helping keep historic Suffield in tip-top shape. By planting trees and flowers, the team ensures that residents can call a beautiful town their home.
The Suffield Garden Club is responsible for maintaining the plant life in places such as the center of town, the monument, the gazebo, the library, two islands and the Suffield sign.
In order to make it all happen, the Suffield Garden Club counts on fundraisers like the upcoming May Market to make sure they can continue to purchase everything they need to continue to plant around town, fund scholarships and complete community services.
Go Local sat down with Suffield Garden Club members Rita Chmura, Joyce Zine and Joanna Mahoney to talk about the work done by the Suffield Garden Club and to discuss their upcoming May Market, which will be hosted on Saturday, May 11 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Phelps-Hatheway House Barn in Suffield.
“We’ve been very active in town doing many activities and plantings around town. May Market is our biggest fundraiser. We depend on the May Market to fund a lot of the scholarships and activities that happen in town,” Rita shared.
The Suffield Garden Club was established in 1934 and closely follows the club purpose: “The objectives of the Club shall be to stimulate the knowledge and love of gardening and the art of flower arranging; to aid in the protection of trees, plants, and birds; to encourage civic beautification and to instill a respect for the environment.”
“The purpose really summarizes what our club is about,” Joyce said.
The Suffield Garden Club participates in a number of activities that bring the joy of gardening to the entire community. The club visits nursing homes such as the Parkway Pavilion Health & Rehabilitation Center in Enfield and The Suffield House in Suffield to teach residents floral arranging. The club supplies the flowers.
“It’s always amazing when you go into one of these sessions that all the residents of these nursing homes are totally involved with putting together a beautiful arrangement that will be placed on their dining room tables for them to enjoy for weeks. The way it is arranged is beautiful,” Rita said.
The Suffield Garden Club also supplies the public library with a weekly floral arrangement, a reminder to the town that the garden club is present all over Suffield. “It’s always been nice to have the library display our arrangements,” Rita shared.
The Suffield Garden Club also works with Suffield youth to bring a love for horticulture.
“We have a junior’s program where we go into the schools and work with other programs. We’ve done projects with the Brownies and the Scouts. We’ve been involved in after-school programs. We truly enjoy working with the youth and elderly,” Joyce said.
It’s not only flowers and plants that keep the Suffield Garden Club busy. “Presently, we’re doing a lot with the trees in town. There’s a tree project going on and one of our members works at the Bartlett Tree Experts. He’s putting in a lot of effort to make sure the trees on the main street stay in good shape,” Rita said.
Joyce added, “Main Street is a historic district and the garden club started planting dogwoods there about 75 years ago. We have replaced many that have died over the years. We’ve been maintaining the dogwoods. We’ve also gotten grants over time to plant other trees. We use money that we’ve raised at our fundraisers.”
Rita smiled and shared, “We’re kind of all over the town.”
This is where the club’s big event, the 42nd May Market, comes in. The free event contains separate booths from paid vendors and club members. About 25 vendors purchase space at the annual event and garden club members occupy about nine spaces.
“We have a close affiliation with the Hatheway House. It works out to be a very nice relationship,” Rita said.
Guests can expect to find items such as collectibles, specialty plants, garden and household tools, locally grown flowers and hanging baskets, geraniums, crafts and home décor items.
A feature item this year will be the Spear Head Spade, a gardening shovel that has been popular at the May Market in the past.
Hungry guests can enjoy pies, cakes and cookies at the event.
Vendors will be on site selling items such as heirloom garden plants, herbs, honey, preserves, home and garden décor, artwork and crafts.
“It’s a great place to buy Mother’s Day gifts,” Joyce shared.
The May Market is just one of the reasons why Rita, Joyce and Joanna said they enjoy being involved in the Suffield Garden Club.
“I just love being involved with the town. The garden club makes the town pretty. There’s so many things that we do in town that people really are not aware of, but we do it. We are out there behind the scenes working. I think people are really appreciative of that,” Rita said.
“Because the majority of us are gardeners and have that love of horticulture, we have that commonality and that really helps to build a nice comradery. We really enjoy working together for the greater good. We’re all contributing to our community and doing something we love to do at the same time,” Joyce shared.
Rita added, “I love the educational part of it, too. Every meeting we have, we learn something because we have these great speakers. The educational aspect is phenomenal.”
“That’s my favorite part of every meeting, it’s that speakers come in and we learn something every single time,” Joanna said.
The Suffield Garden Club is always seeking new members. To join, please contact Membership Chair Connie Murray at 607-591-9256. The club meets formally October through June. The club meets informally in gardens and in town during the summer.
In the case that April showers spill over into May, no worries. The dedicated members of the Suffield Garden Club host the May Market in rain or shine, so make sure May 11 is penciled in on your calendar!