Dade City Garden Club’s Annual Ornaments have been raising funds for the club since 1994. Sally Redden, a long-time member of the club, took the time to share their story with me earlier this year. With their long history and a lifetime of dedicated members, the garden club continues to thrive throughout the ever-changing decades they’ve been around.
The Garden Club of Dade City
The Dade City Garden Club is a 501c3 non-profit organization. Located in Dade City, FL the city has a very small population of roughly 7,000 people. Founded in 1947, the club has dedicated its mission to educate its members and the public in gardening, horticulture, landscape design, floral design, and environmental awareness. It began after a group of local southern women met with the Tampa Federation of Garden Clubs, to discuss the conception of a Dade City Garden Club. In 1948, the Federation officially accepted the club.
In April of 1948, a decision was made to divide the club into circles. Each circle had a limited number of women, who all aimed to be of service to the community. “They were very resourceful women,” Sally says, “and they set out to have their own building by buying land themselves.” For $9,000, they bought 2.3 acres of land and paid it off by selling oranges from the grove on their land, and raising funds at bake sales, bazaars, fashion shows, plant sales, and so on.
The building in Dade City is a historic church built-in 1913. The club purchased it for $1 and kept the stained-glass windows and steeple. The building itself was transported on a truck and moved through the town to a new site in 1976, opening in 1977. Furthermore, the gardens throughout the 2.3 acres of land were each assigned to a circle, and each circle was named after a flower. Renovated several times over the years, their building is now also rented out for events like birthdays, baptisms, and weddings. In addition, the club uses its center to host large flower shows and other events year-round.
Annual Ornaments with Beacon Design
In 1994, Dade City Garden Club and Beacon Design began their partnership creating custom annual ornaments. At this time, two of the club members who went to a state convention about fundraising met members from the Garden Club of Indian River County in Vero Beach, FL. The Garden Club of Indian River County members shared details about their custom ornament program and how they used it as a fundraising resource. In short, this is how Dade City began creating their keepsakes with us.
Their ornament designs have always been based around historic buildings and artifacts in Dade City. What helped sell the ornaments is that people started collecting the new designs each year. Not to mention, the women in the club worked hard to sell them. “In the 90’s they even wore them as necklaces,” Sally laughs, “It was a big deal to sell and collect the ornaments.”
As the years have gone on, the club has learned to adapt and adjust to times. Original collectors were aging and the club had to begin thinking of new ways to build collectors. One of their goals was to encourage younger members to join, as they are fun and enthusiastic. As a matter of fact, Sally shares that the club today has an entirely new circle of young women. Some are daughters of current and past members, and a few even had grandmothers who were part of the club. “Women we’ve known since they were young children attending Garden Club Camp,” Sally recalls. “They are energetic, creative, and technologically savvy.”
As a result, these new circles have helped the club sell their annual ornaments to a wider audience. They truly hope to continue to add more young circles in the coming years.
Where Are The Ornaments Sold Now?
One of the largest selling opportunities the club participated in is the Kumquat Festival. About 10,000 people attend the festival annually. The kumquat tree has put their city on the map. For those of you unsure, a kumquat isn’t much larger than a grape. In contrast to other citrus fruits, the peel of the Kumquat is sweet and edible, while the middle is tart.
In 2019, the club sold their kumquat themed custom ornament at the festival. Attendees purchased the keepsake as a token of their visit. Sally says, “Beacon’s ornaments have always been a step above the rest and we let customers know about their quality and that they are made from the same company who manufactures the White House Historical Association’s ornaments.” In addition to selling at the festival, the club participates in many other Dade City events by setting up a table or booth to sell both present and past ornaments. Apart from this, their main source of ornament distribution has been their partnership with the Chamber of Commerce since 1994.
In any event, one selling method that still holds true for the members are their sacred lists. Members have worked hard throughout the years to build their list of customers from the community and in their church. If you think you have a chance at getting your hands on a member’s list, think again.
When I asked Sally what the most rewarding part of her time with the Dade City Garden Club has been she said, “It’s that the garden club and it’s members provide a unique entity for Dade City and that there is nothing else like that around.” To Sally’s point, with the partnership of the garden club and the City of Dady City, they were responsible for Dade City achieving the status of a Tree City USA. Then in 2019, the city was also established as a Monarch City USA! With that said, the garden club will promote the Monarch Project through education and activities for the community. And as for their 2020 custom keepsake, well, I recently had a sneak peek and I have to say, I think it’s their most beautiful yet!
If you’d like to purchase the Dade City Garden Clubs Ornament, CLICK HERE for more details.
Follow Dade City Garden Club on Facebook!