Soil and Sunshine Garden Club has rich history

By Larry Sable


Ours is the greatest garden club in America! Okay, maybe that's a stretch, but we like our club. Why you ask? Gardening is a great way to reconnect with nature in this digital age. It's good for your mental health and acts as a stress reliever after a busy day. I enjoy growing and eating my own food in the vegetable garden, while the flowers are pleasing to the eye and the soul—and provide a habitat for our pollinators.

 I enjoy being a part of something with tradition. Our club was started on February 8, 1954 with 15 charter members who met in people’s homes. The host would provide food for the group. By 1990, the club had grown to a point where they started meeting at the Senior Center. By 1994 the membership had grown to 56, and in 2002 we boasted 61 members and now have many master gardeners among our ranks. During the months of September through May we invite outside speakers to present interesting and informative programs that focus mainly on horticulture with the except of our Christmas potluck. Wow, the food is great! During the summer months we go on tours to a variety of locations. I have appreciated the opportunity to see some amazing places, including events like the upcoming Fridley Home and Garden Tour on Sunday, July 21 from 1-5 p.m.

Our club participates in several community projects, including maintaining the gardens at the Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts, one of the sites on the home tour. Approximately 25 years ago Fridley resident Lois Schozen, who lives near Banfill-Locke, a National Register building built in 1847 and located along East River Road, started helping with the landscape work there. She eventually recruited help from fellow members of our garden club. Later, that group would come to be known as "The Dirty Dozen" and have been helping with planting, mulching, and weeding ever since then. The "Dirty Dozen", has dwindled in size thru the years but this year they gained some new members and have a new team leader in Karen Murphy. She will be on hand to help answer questions at the Fridley Home and Garden Tour, along with Banfill-Locke board member, Ann Bolkom. Ann has a team of volunteers as well, who help with the landscaping. The local deer also help with some of the trimming! Some of the members have told me that many of the people they encounter while working there comment on how impressed they are with the grounds.  New club members interested in helping with this effort or benefiting from any of our other activities are always appreciated. The house and gardens are definitely worth checking out this weekend if you can (tickets are available at Some plantings for this site were donated by our club and some come from Minnesota Green, which we are a member of.

Other community projects of 2018 included funding the building of eight raised bed garden boxes at the Blaine community garden site. The Boy Scouts from Troop 522 provided most of the labor. It was great to see that project come together. We also have a kid’s pumpkin patch at the Blaine community garden, flower plantings in various places, and donate scholarship money to a U of M horticulture student. Our club is funded by an annual plant sale, which also offers members discounted prices. Our club is also affiliated with "Federated Garden Clubs of America, 6th district", and, if you choose, the "MN State Horticulture Society, 7th district". We meet at the Mary Ann Young Senior Center, also known as the Blaine Senior Center.

I have been asked in the past why I would want to be a member of a garden club. When our club started there were not nearly as many activities vying for our time. Especially all the electronic choices. There is so much to know about growing things! I figured that if I want to learn about plants I should hang out with people with similar interests and listen to knowledgeable speakers and visit some beautiful gardens. Our garden club offers these things. Growing things is also a pleasure to me because plants have no agenda, no sales tactics--they are just a miracle of life. To be able to plant a seed and see it grow into a healthy plant is a very rewarding experience. 

For further information, you can contact me, Larry Sable, at 763-785-2950. Many thanks to those who have helped with this through the years.