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Out & About: Hanover Garden Club growing into greenhouse

  • Hanover Garden Club member Erin Graf, of Claremont, who chairs the annual plant sale, holds a plant at the new Hanover Garden Club greenhouse on Grasse Road in Hanover. Club members are busy preparing for the sale, which will involve buyers placing orders online in advance and picking them up in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Valley News — Liz Sauchelli) Valley News — Liz Sauchelli

  • Sandra Johnson, of Etna, past president of the Hanover Garden Club and current greenhouse chair, has been putting together hanging baskets that will be sold at the annual Hanover Garden Club plant sale. Due to social distancing guidelines put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, buyers will place their orders ahead of time on the club's website and pick them up from the greenhouse located at Grasse Road in Hanover. (Valley News — Liz Sauchelli) Courtesy photograph—Courtesy photograph

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 5/2/2020 9:50:42 PM
Modified: 5/2/2020 9:50:40 PM

After years of fundraising and planning, the Hanover Garden Club’s new greenhouse is up and running, and it is absolutely wonderful — not just the structure itself, but the way it all came together.

When I went to visit Wednesday morning, the sun was at its best, which was a comfort after a week that began with a spring snowstorm (depending on where you live). The new greenhouse is located next to the town’s water department on Grasse Road. While the greenhouse isn’t quite finished, many plants have already been moved in by volunteers, with more to follow from the garden club’s previous home at Pine Knoll Cemetery.

Planning for the new greenhouse started back in 2013, after officials informed the club that they were going to need to expand the town’s sewage facility and the greenhouse would have to move, said Sandra Johnson, of Etna, past president of the Hanover Garden Club and current greenhouse chairwoman. Town Manager Julia Griffin said the town would look for a place in town where it could go.

“We needed a south-facing place,” Johnson said during an interview at the greenhouse, where all four participants wore face coverings and sat the requisite 6 feet apart.

The new greenhouse is two-thirds bigger than the current space. Construction began last May and is mostly complete. There are plans to put in an outdoor shed and raised beds where perennials can overwinter. They are also excited for the possibilities that the new greenhouse is bringing with it, including the opportunity to hold workshops and children’s programs in the space once social-distancing guidelines are relaxed.

The town has been supportive throughout the entire process.

“They have really stepped up. We are very fortunate,” Johnson said. “All of their labor was pro bono.”

The project was originally budgeted for $200,000, Johnson said, and they’re currently 25% over that projected amount.

“It was all fundraising,” she said, adding that grants and donations from businesses both played a part.

Additionally, more than 250 people donated to the cause, “all the way from $25 to huge numbers. It’s been so gratifying to see the community (support).”

In addition to its annual plant sale, the Hanover Garden Club is perhaps best known for the 12 town gardens it plants and maintains each year throughout town. Beginning in 1965, the club along with the Hanover Conservation Council established a fund named after longtime Hanover mail carrier and avid gardener Julius Mason to support the town gardens. In 2003, the Hanover Garden Club became solely responsible for the gardens and the fund.

The annual plant sale was originally scheduled for May 16, but with social distancing guidelines put in place by the states due to the COVID-19 pandemic, members of the club have had to radically alter how they will proceed this year.

“We’re taking cues from CSAs in the area,” said Erin Graf, of Claremont, who chairs the plant sale.

People will be required to place their orders on the club’s website and pick them up at the new greenhouse on Grasse Road. They are also changing their offerings: Annuals, vegetable starts and hanging baskets will be available, but perennials — which club members contribute from their own gardens — will not. Graf is focusing on adding more vegetable starts, as people continue to embrace growing their own food as the pandemic stretches on.

In previous years, quite the crowd would form at the greenhouse at Pine Knoll Cemetery for the annual sale.

“In three hours, we’d have over 100 cars,” said Susan Edwards, of Hanover, who used to chair the plant sale.

“People line up before we open the gate,” Graf added.

Club members have not yet decided on a date for the pickup sale, but it will likely be in late May or early June. They are working on getting their website ready for online orders.

At the new greenhouse, volunteers work in shifts to water the plants and put together hanging baskets, but COVID-19 precautions reign. Of the more than 200 members “a good percentage of those are the vulnerable age,” Johnson said.

“We have to really adjust how our prep work is going,” Graf said, noting social distancing and the limits on the number of people in one place.

While it won’t be the plant sale the club envisioned, members are excited to be able to hold it in some fashion.

“Everyone is in the same boat and we’re all just floating,” Johnson said. “It shows you how flexible everyone can be and how resourceful.”

Editor’s note: To keep apprised of the Hanover Garden Club’s plant sale planning, visit hanovergardenclub.org.

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.




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