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The Garden Club of Windham - Minutes of November 16th Meeting

Willimantic Public Library Meeting Room

Call to order – 3:46 pm, Barbara Wright, Co-President presiding


In Attendance – Jean deSmet, Barbara Gibson, Faith Kenton, Susan Newcombe, Jay Osborne, Daniel Phipps, Ursula Roskoski, Debbie Stoloff, Carole Williamson, Barbara Wright, Pam Wright.


Minutes of the Board meeting held on 10/25/2023 were unanimously accepted as they had been posted on-line previously for members to access and read.


Financial Report – Garden Club assets as of 11/14/2023 submitted by Budget and Finance Chair Jennifer Duchesne, read by Barbara Wright:

Friends of the GOB checking - $49,282.54

Garden Club Checking - $11,385.53

Garden Club Savings -  $8,505.50


Proposed Budget, 2024 – Attention was directed to handout of proposed budget for 2024. Barbara made note of the fact that, although money brought in was less than projected, actual expenses were also less. She pointed out that donations were higher than expected, including a generous $400 donation from the Thread City Diner, and that is a positive sign. Jean noted that the 2024 dues for Last Green Valley membership would come to $120, a change from last year. The proposed budget will be approved by the membership at the annual meeting in April.


Proposed Slate of officers, 2024 – read and unanimously accepted for the coming year

Co-Presidents: Barbara Wright and Jay Osborne

Secretary: Ursula Roskoski Treasurer: Patty Spruance

Chair, Budget and Finance: Jennifer Duchesne Chair, Membership Committee: Jay Osborne Chair, Public Spaces Committee: Dan Phipps

Co-chairs, Wildlife Habitat Committee: Pam Wright and Jean deSmet Chair, ad hoc High Street Hillside Committee: Faith Kenton

Chair, ad hoc Friends of the Garden on the Bridge Committee: (?)

Co-chairs, ad hoc Holiday Lights Committee: Carole Williamson and Dan Phipps

Board Members at large: Debbie Stoloff; openings for up to four more.

The slate will be approved by the membership at the annual meeting in April.


Committee Reports –

Membership and Outreach – Jay stated that the goal of the committee is to make the member- ship less exclusive, more inclusive of younger people and people with families and children. He has an opportunity to extend an invitation to join the Garden Club to teachers and families in the Windham school system. He would like to send out a broad invitation to everyone and see who responds. He continues to work on putting together a new member orientation program. Barbara asked what people think about lectures on horticultural topics. Carole spoke about being a member of the Ct Horticulture Society and noted that they have monthly programming that is available on-line; there is also great resource at UCONN.


Wildlife Habitat/Pollinator Pathway - Pam spoke about attending the SALT Conference - there were four terrific speakers, who presented on planting trees for a greener future in the North- east. This included 1)protecting old trees with large canopies; 2) a project which enables individuals to take pictures of pollinators on their own trees and send them in to the larger project to help with data collection; 3) de-vining the forest to save canopies; and 4) encouraging community leaders to promote greening urban landscapes. Jean spoke about working with a high school student and her UCONN mentor; they have replanted four trees that were damaged by beavers, replacing them with sugar maples.


Public Spaces – Dan spoke about re-thinking Public Spaces, referring to the steward/mentor program that had been initiated in the past but never fully implemented. He would like to strengthen this program by creating a centralized resource listing who is responsible for a particular garden; if a steward needs extra help they can reach out to the Public Spaces chair to ask who is available. He would also like to categorize gardens by theme – formal, native, cottage, etc. to target different interests.


Holiday Lights – Carole stated that Public Works has offered the use of 20 decorative holiday baskets with LED lights. She proposes hanging them at the Garden on the Bridge. She will need help fluffing the material, putting in batteries and hanging them. The consensus was that this would be a good way to decorate the Garden on the Bridge and would also be good PR for the Garden Club.


Garden on the Bridge – Barbara stated that with money from a recent grant and the spring fund- raiser, the Friends have ordered lights for the pump house wall and tables and bench and four table units for the Plaza/Threadway area. The Friends have recently been talking about what kind of benches they would like to order for the bridge itself, as the existing ones are in poor condition and grant funding is available for their purchase.


High Street Hillside grant proposal – Faith proposed that she combine the High Street Hillside committee report with group discussion of her grant proposal that addresses maintenance of that garden. She stated that the necessary maintenance to get that garden into an acceptable condition - clearing weeds, removing dead plants and rescuing smothered plants - is 85% done. What to do next? Ursula suggested using a prison work release program (AIC) as a source of labor; Yves Kraus had distributed background material to answer questions about Natria; Jay mailed some links to publications with additional information about Natria.


The grant proposal requests funding for three things: using Natria for weed control; planting a grass/clover verge on the High Street side for ease of maintenance; and building access paths into the garden. The use of Natria was the most contentious. Carole was adamantly opposed to using Natria; she argued that there are safer, cheaper alternative weed control methods, and, as a DNA disruptor, Natria carries risks. Debate followed about the risks versus benefits of Natria use.


Barbara observed that use of a chemical weed killer seemed to be the sticking point and she asked Faith if she would be willing to omit that piece from the grant proposal. The suggestion was declined. Jay mentioned that at the special meeting there was great enthusiasm for the use of cardboard and mulch. Pam suggested a compromise: trying the more labor intensive methods first, then revisiting the issue in the future. Barbara suggested substituting a paid summer supervisor for the cost of buying and applying Natria.

Carole said that the Public Works director does not want any chemical application without an applicator’s license. The discussion was inconclusive as time ran out.


Next Meeting – TBD


Adjourned – 5:15 pm


Respectfully submitted by Ursula Roskoski

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