Local, fresh, organic: the Garden Club’s 50-year tradition

What words do you use to describe the best purchases you can make? Do the words “local,” “fresh,” “organic” and “natural” come to mind? If so, would “not overpriced” and “not made by exploited workers” be on your list?

Here’s a story that uses all those words and more.

Rappahannock Garden Club volunteers put the finishing touches on holiday greens during a recent early-December session at the Washington fire hall.
Rappahannock Garden Club volunteers put the finishing touches on holiday greens during a recent early-December session at the Washington fire hall. Courtesy photo

This year, as they have for the past fifty-odd years, the Rappahannock County Garden Club is offering for sale wreaths, swags and centerpieces for your holiday decorating. They are made of the freshest, most natural, totally organic and local greenery to be found anywhere. Sometime later this month, club members will head out into the woods, meadows and gardens of our county to pick the cedar, yew, pine, box and other traditional boughs that make up holiday memories. Months ago, they contacted the property owners for permission to do this — promising, as usual, that the trees, plants and shrubs would look better and feel better after their judicious pruning.

And these workers, who go out on schedule in cold and even snow, are definitely not exploited. Of course, they aren’t paid at all, but that doesn’t matter to them. As part of their membership in the club, they have promised to work on this fundraising chore; first to go out and cut the greens, then to watch over the large black construction bags full of greenery, conditioning them in their garages and barns, and finally, to work in the Washington fire hall during the four days in December that the wreaths, garland and centerpieces are put together and decorated.

Meanwhile, orders are taken and filled, the county and the homes in it are beautified for the season, and leftover greens are shared with the schools and other nonprofits.

And why is all this happening? Well, believe it or not, this is the best part. The profit from this intensive work is dedicated primarily to scholarships for the children of Rappahannock County. Because, for as long as the wreaths have been made, for more than 50 years, children have been sent to nature camps and have received college scholarships.

It has been going on so long that the children and grandchildren of the first scholarship recipients are now applying. It is a matter of pride that every year new names are added to the list of recipients, which is then published in the club’s yearbook. From time to time, we receive letters from our recipients about what the scholarships have meant to them and, believe me, it makes every minute of our efforts worthwhile when we hear how we have helped these local children.

Finally, and though it doesn’t all come down to money in the end, the beauty and quality of the Rappahannock Garden Club products are priced well below similar offerings from other vendors near and far away.

So for more information or to order, call Mary Ann Krammes at 540-547-4441 (or email her at mafabjan1977@gmail.com). To see the brochure, visit laughingduckgardens.com and, to see for yourself, come by the Washington fire hall Dec. 9-12 and rejoice in the longstanding tradition of the hardworking memers of the Rappahannock County Garden Club.