The Granite Falls Lady Slipper Garden Club formed in July of 1999 after Mary Kelly and Kathie Kimpling put an ad in the Granite Falls paper. “Kathie called me up one day and said we should form a garden club…we decided to just put an ad in the paper to see who would come and people came...we had 24 people show up to the first meeting,” said Kelly. And so was born the Lady Slipper Garden Club which has been active in the community for the past twenty years.

Barb Benson, Kelly, and Kimpling were flipping through a binder that covered the groups 20 year history, “Our first project was working with planter boxes on 8th Avenue.” Kelly said, showing a picture of the group working on the project.

“We started out small,” added Benson.

Fast forward to present day and the group has four gardens. One by the Volstead House, a garden just off of Hwy 212 near Cenex, a garden by the Granite Falls Fire Hall, and a garden on prentice street next to the K.K. Berge Building. And still, where it began, the group still does some work on 8th Avenue. “We probably aren’t going to have our Cenex garden anymore because they are changing the highway next year so something will probably have to change with that.” Benson said.

When describing the type of work and commitment on the part of the garden club members Kelly said, “There are about three or four people that work on each garden and they do the planting, watering, and weeding.” Adding, “We do about 400 hours of volunteer work just in the late spring, summer, and early fall months.”

Most of the funding for the club’s projects comes from the Granite Falls EDA which helps make purchases for flowers, weed killer, mulch, and other resources. “We have member dues that are just five dollars so there isn’t a huge financial obligation for members… most of our funding comes from the EDA in Granite.” Kelly said.

In recent years the group has had to set the limit for the amount of work they take on, focusing more on just the four gardens around town. “We set the limit at our four gardens because we don’t have enough help to do anymore than that. We have been asked to do more but we can’t,” said Kelly.

Even though the group hasn’t been able to take on larger projects they still do help with smaller projects around town from time to time which include potted plants by the senior center, plants by where the farmers market is held, flowers near the “Welcome to Granite Falls” sign, the light pole decorations for the Arts Meander, and other fall decorations. “Those are just some extra volunteer things we do, otherwise we actually voted to not take on any new projects.” Kimpling said.

Membership has been a problem for the group recently, “When we started we were all twenty years younger and that makes a big difference in the amount of work we can do.” Kelly said.

“When we climb up in the planters we have someone standing by ready to call 911!” Kimpling added with a laugh.

Currently there are seventeen members in the club but the group is looking for additional help in the form of younger members with new ideas. “We really need younger members… we would also accept any men who were interested in joining...I know the name is Lady Slipper Garden Club but we would be willing to change it to Guns and Roses if any men were interested,” Kimpling quipped.

Aside from gardening work other group activities include garden tours, listening to speakers, and attending various presentations. “At our last meeting we had Nicole Zempel come in and do a mushroom presentation. It was interesting, we learned a lot about different types of mushrooms and we got to actually try some of the mushrooms she prepared…She really did a great job and everyone enjoyed it.” Benson said.

“And at our meeting before that one we went to a class Teresa Peterson held at the K.K. Berge Building about traditional gardening methods and we learned a lot from her too…It was a lot of fun.” Kimpling added.

“We are an independent group, we aren’t affiliated with any larger organization and we don’t get a lot of outside help. We’d really love new members with some new ideas.” Kimpling said.

The club holds meetings below the Granite Falls Library at 7:00 p.m. every fourth Tuesday of the month. If you have an interest in helping to further the efforts of The Lady Slipper Garden Club and might be interested in joining or would like to attend a meeting feel free to stop in or you can contact Barb Benson at barbpaulbenson@yahoo. com for more information.