When the Elmira and District Horticultural Society was founded in 1900, the local newspaper expressed concern that it might not get support from the community. Now, after going strong for 108 years, the society is in trouble and asking for help.
With funding grants and community projects on the line, the society is pleading for people to step up and sit on its executive. The organization is looking for a new president, two vice-presidents and at least five directors to serve on the 12-member board.
The new executive has to be in place before Feb. 1 for the society to be eligible for several key grants. The horticulture society receives $1,500 from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and another grant from Woolwich Township.
“It’s not that we waited until the last minute to do it,” said co-president Tony Vorstenbosch. “We thought we had people in place, but with the economy and things, it all fell apart.”
Vorstenbosch said the organization is otherwise healthy, with more than 200 members, but they need people to take on a leadership role. Some of the current board members have served three or four two-year terms and would like to step down.
“We have a strong membership and they’re all willing to help, but nobody wants to lead.”
It’s not hard work, Vorstenbosch said, noting that although it can be time-consuming, it’s a rewarding job.
The horticultural society maintains 10 gardens in Elmira, including Bristow Park, Memorial Park, the library and the Woolwich Visitor Information Centre. The group also organizes a garden tour and candlelight home tour, and contributes to the Christmas decorations and hanging baskets on the lampposts on Arthur Street.
Without people to step forward and steer the horticultural society, those projects will be neglected, Vorstenbosch said.
Anyone interested in helping can contact Tony or Anne Vorstenbosch at 519-669-8802.