Any Other Topics: Encouraging new members
Started by: Susan ReadGo to latest contribution by Ian Crompton, 20 May 2013, 14:40. Go to bottom of this page.
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I wonder if anyone remembers some weekend courses run by the Horncastle Residential College? I went to some of these in the early 1980's. They were actually organised by AGS members but were open to anyone. I was already a member but had I not been I would have joined AGS promptly. They were an excellent way of learning about the world of alpines, with small classes and opportunities to speak with the lecturers, altogether less daunting than the larger AGS conferences. Looking back I see the weekend cost was about £40 pounds! I know that times have changed, with no subsidies for further education and the upgrading of conference facilities, but I do feel that small informal low cost weekend meetings could be popular.
Hello Susan - I think that would be great idea if individuals are able to get together to organise something like this. There are wonderful mini-conferences directed at members but not really at gardeners outside the Society. We have had preliminary thoughts of approaching the University of Kent with the idea of organising an event that might be directed at students in the Plant Sciences, as well as members of the public who have deeper interests in plants. I think the major point is that gardening with plants can also give great insights into the wider aspects of the Plant Kingdom, and in ways that are very positive.
It is sometimes difficult to know if one's thoughts are of value or an irritant when there is little reaction - and usually the latter is the natural feeling. More likely is that one's interests differ from those of others. However, ideas evolve and these suggestions of meetings directed especially to gardeners outside the Society do seem sensible. Our thoughts a year or two ago were that we might organise something at the University of Kent, but probably to be realistic they would have little interest in us unless we were able to convince them of the relevance of learning about alpine plants in a wider sense than simply as gardeners (from this you will gauge that I do see plants in a much wider way). A recent 'Gardener's Question Time', hosted by the Kent Hardy Plant Society at East Malling Research Station, near to Maidstone, suggests a better and more central venue for a small Conference, possibly on alpines and perennials well adapted to the drier climate of the south-east. A variety of speakers, particularly from the States and Europe, would be exciting - but how to balance this so it appeals to those of us who are long-term enthusiasts, and to other gardeners who have that same fascination but are not members of the AGS or other specialist societies? It is relatively easy to cater to those you know, but more tricky to draw in those you don't. The answer is to go for it, and so these ideas will continue to evolve... any thought's on a postcard!
Tim, I am not aware of any solution to the problem of finding low cost venues: conference facilities have become geared to people who have all their fees paid by employers. I notice the YHA have run courses in interesting areas eg N Wales on geology and photography. Combining subjects such as ecology or geology or mountain walking might attract younger people.
I am not going to write too much in one go since I suspect people postpone reading longer entries. I know I do!
I do like the idea very much of combining subjects - geology and mountain walking and photography would be ideal, and put the plants into context - and then the whole event could be advertised in a rather different way than we might first have thought of. Our Group actually has reasonable funds if we can feel reasonably confident that we will attract people, and our Treasurer has a lot of experience running these sort of events. This is just the sort of feedback I was hoping for because it opens up new possibilities and maybe contacts.
(PS: I do hope people read longer entries!).
Good ideas Susan and Tim. Holehird Gardens has the facilities to host the "course" aspect of this sort of initiative, but not the residential bit. But there's loads of B&B's etc. nearby. I can be contacted at email@example.com if anyone is thinking of progressing the idea.
Hello Alan - Holehird would be a wonderful venue to organise an event like this! It would probably cover all those plants that we can't possibly grow down here in Kent, and would be an ideal place to look at the native plants of British mountains more closely.
As a brand new member of the AGS I can't really put an angle on why I joined, I have a decent sized garden to which apart from cutting the lawn I had very little interest (my wife is the gardener I am the umpalumpa).
I guess "societys" seem a bit high brow to many people all the Latin names can be intimidating to the simple gardener of limited experience and scare people away.
Social media like web sites,Facebook,and twitter play a very important part in raising awareness of a subject, The AGS has a great web site and has a Facebook page but has only a small amount of activity or contribution from a limited number of members. So my personal View is either the member demographic on the whole don't use social media or just prefer to share information between a close few people they know with a similar interest in a local geographical area.
Ian - here is the best Social Media of all; a school group in the woodland garden at Kew! You could say it is never too old to learn, but I am convinced that the garden is the best place to learn because it is your own place. (I meant to include this picture along with our Local Group visit to Kew - I think quite a few of those on the coach knew little more about plants than these school kids!).
well I made a trip to the AGS garden yesterday afternoon as I only live a 30 min drive from Pershore, so i think my alpine education has made a start. So I guess I am now on the roller coaster of alpine gardening I dare say before my journey is over i will have assassinated a few plants and grown a few more.