Any Other Topics: News from the Local Group Correspondent
Started by: Robert Amos
Keeping you up to date with what I am doing and how you can get involvedGo to latest contribution by Rob Amos, 18 February 2012, 22:51. Go to bottom of this page.
Another update on the discussions taking place in the Group Secretaries? area of the website? Well that was quick! On to more positive news.
The first of what I hope will be a series of diaries by nurseries is now online. John Spokes from Little Heath Farm kindly volunteered (with a bit of gentle nudging!) to be the guinea pig.
In addition I have had a couple of people approach me with offers to write about their gardens for the new ?Garden of the Season? section and the first article will hopefully be published by the end of the month. There has been much discussion about showcasing how alpines can be incorporated into people?s gardens and hopefully this will go some way to achieving that. If you are interested in writing about your garden please get in touch via the email address below.
I am also now working on developing the AGS Facebook page and am talking to other gardening groups who have Facebook pages about how best to use the site. If anyone has any ideas please get in touch.
Finally a plea to local group secretaries? please please please make use of your section of the website. It could be a fantastic way to connect and share ideas without having to pay for petrol. To access the area you need to register as a user of the site and then either email myself (email@example.com) or Pershore to be given permission.
Hi Robert - great to hear that John is going to put details from a nurserymans perspective on to the website. I think Groups with members who run nurseries are very lucky, and John does grow an especially fascinating variety of plants.
I expect you have seen the discussions on SRGC and NARGS re. Facebook. It seems (though I don't have experience of Facebook myself) that there is quite a bit of exchange of information about plants, especially about specific groups of plants. If our Societies are simply mentioned more there, there must be a good chance of gardeners looking in, but they do need an exciting looking introduction on our website I would have thought, which makes them want to look further. I hope the diaries and garden details will begin to do that more, as well as the more traditonal features of the website, but surely the opening page could be a little more imaginative? (Or maybe this is strongly governed by the way the website is put together? As Eric Marsh has said it is hard to be critical of those who invest great time and energy to the Society - however, if much of the quality expressed by the Society is based on criticism, ie: judging. then that same ethos should come across in how the Society itself is promoted. A little relaxation and shared thought seems wise). So hoping you get more contributions from Group Secretaries, if not many others.
Robert - this a curious conversation I am holding because it comes by way of the NARGS forum (!) and your comment there about advertising. You could say that is actually a vital thing to do until you get a response, rather than shying away from it because of cost. If that is accepted (not easy) then the second decision is how to make that advertising really tell people what you want it to (also not easy but easier when you have a strong belief and fascination in what you do). The third step is to take the plunge and see what happens, and what you found illustrates that doing this is valuable. Only with time will it be possible to see what works best but imaginative advertising is likely to catch the attention of keen gardeners, if it is done because we really do want to catch their attention. There are many implications in this.
Facebook is definitely becoming much more of an open forum for sharing information. From the AGS point of view I think the way forward is to start networking with other gardening pages (like many things this is on my to-do list!)
I agree that advertisement is vital. The Bedfordshire Group?s numbers were in decline for a few years but our fortunes have reversed recently because we have made more of an effort to make a noise. It definitely made a huge difference to attendance to our Show last year. Websites are an important asset but newspapers are undoubtedly the best way forward in the short term because, although the potential audience is much smaller, the actual number of people who see the adverts (I suspect) is greater. For most groups I think the way forward has to be investigating free papers or magazines? Arguably not as good as commercial or regional paper, but affordable. Setting up displays at other gardening groups' shows is also a good way of reaching people who already have an interest in plants. I think I can count on one hand the number of people we have recruited via our display at the Biggleswade Gardening Club Show, but it is another opportunity to raise awareness about both the Group and the AGS.
The South Wales Group now has its own mini-site on the AGS website. This, along with all of the other Local Group sites, can be accessed via the link under the 'AGS Group's drop down menu. It is still a work in progress but should be completed in the next couple of weeks following their meeting this coming Wednesday and the Show on Saturday.
If any other Group would like information, advice or support on setting up a mini-site please get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org)
To try and gain a much more detailed picture of what members think of the website throughout 2012 questionnaires will be distributed at a number of Shows.
In time I hope to have questionnaire available online, but in the meantime if you will not be at one of the Shows listed below and would like to complete it please email me (email@example.com) and I will send you a copy.
Questionnaires will be handed out at the following Shows:
After each Show I will post a short summary of the results to keep you informed and please feel free to email me if you would like to know more.
Out of fifty questionnaires handed out, twenty-six were returned. Four questionnaires were filled in by members without access to the internet.
One reason that was often cited for why someone did not get involved with the activities on the website was lack of time. I think this is both encouraging and discouraging. On the one hand people are not being put off by the website, but on the other it is a problem that we cannot do anything about!
The Show pages and members' diaries were the most visited areas. Only four people said the Online Discussion was one of the areas they visited most often.
By a large margin, the two things people wanted to see more of on the website were plant information and practical advice about growing alpines.
All four of the respondents who do not have access to the internet said that they feel they are kept up-to-date by the newsletter and other sources of information.