Growing green thumbs for 75 years

By: Cari DeLamielleure-Scott | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published August 13, 2014

 Members of the 1957 Sylvan Lake Garden Club pose for a picture.

Members of the 1957 Sylvan Lake Garden Club pose for a picture.

Photo courtesy of Barbara Ash

SYLVAN LAKE — The Sylvan Lake Garden Club, an organization with deep roots in the community, will celebrate its 75th anniversary with its annual ice cream social 6-8 p.m. Aug. 21.

Established in 1939, the garden club has held the community ice cream social since 1965, charging only $1 for ice cream and homemade cakes, which are donated by residents.

“It really is popular. We get a ton of people there,” said Barbara Ash, garden club president. “It really is like a big community party.”

Sticking with tradition, Ash added that the club will still charge the “whopping, exorbitant price of $1” for a homemade sweet and a scoop of ice cream this year.

The history of the garden club’s activities dates back to World War II, and the club has since impacted the Sylvan Lake community through various projects, including planting 20 evergreen trees along the main boulevard in 1943 and contributing to the purchasing of playground equipment at Ferndale Park in 1958, Ash said.

“The biggest things the club has done over the years was providing vegetable plots for victory gardens during World War II,” Ash said. Victory gardens were prevalent in the U.S. and England, where citizens were encouraged to grow their own food.

The club currently maintains the garden beds at Memorial Park, hosts an annual plant exchange in June and sponsors open forums on garden-related subjects — conducted by professionals — in the spring and fall.

The ice cream social, in years past, has featured a face painter and old fashioned games for kids, and Ash said that this year, she imagines they will have a face painter, but “you never really know what else might be there.”

Sylvan Lake resident Jim Smith said that he and his wife, Mary Ann, have attended the ice cream social annually.

“The cake and ice cream are great … and it’s a great way to chat with friends and meet new neighbors,” Smith said in an email. “Hooray to the garden club for putting on this event for so many years.”

Becoming a member of the garden club, Ash said, is as simple as approaching one of the members and committing to pay $5 per year for dues. Club meetings are on the third Thursday of every month.

“It’s pretty informal. There isn’t some big commitment,” Ash said, adding that the club is “very open” and they don’t hold any votes or require applications.

The Sylvan Lake Garden Club’s annual Sylvan Lake Ice Cream Social will take place 6-8 p.m. Aug. 21 at the Community Center, located at 2456 Pontiac Drive in Sylvan Lake.