[NAFEX] Membership, focus, journals, etc...the face of NAFEX

Diane Whitehead voltaire at islandnet.com
Thu Feb 14 00:01:33 EST 2008

I belong to a lot of garden societies, in North America, the United  
Kingdom, and South Africa.  The membership dues range from $10 to $90  
a year.  The inexpensive ones send out Xeroxed quarterly journals and  
charge for the seeds in their seed exchanges.  They make most of their  
money from seed sales.  The most expensive one is the Royal  
Horticultural Society which publishes a monthly magazine, runs three  
huge gardens and research labs, trains students, and allows me free  
access to lots of gardens when I make one of my infrequent trips to  

Most of these societies also have websites on which there is an  
enormous amount of information free to anyone.  Check out how much  
information is given on the RHS site:    http://www.rhs.org.uk/ 
index.htm    The information published on the website  is free to all,  
but if you are a member, you can get personal advice.  For instance,  
you can send in diseased plants and have the scientists test them for  

One of the liveliest websites is that of the Scottish Rock Garden  
Club. The club itself has over 4500 members in 38 countries, but the  
website is for everyone. This is from the homepage:   "this site is a  
reflection of the SRGC's policy of openness and friendliness, whether  
or not you are a member. We do hope however that any non-members who  
like the site will consider joining us and thereby enjoy the wide  
range of benefits that membership of the SRGC brings! "

Here are just a couple of items from the website:

  One man publishes a photographic essay each week on what to do with  
bulbs.  He's been doing this since 2003, and it is a very useful  
resource.  Look at one of his essays, and just imagine doing something  
similar with fruit information.   http://www.srgc.org.uk/bulblog/log2007/080807/log.html

It also has a Forum which can be read by anyone, but one needs to join  
(the Forum, which is free, not the Society itself) in order to be  
allowed to post.  Take a look at how many discussions are going on,  
including some about what is flowering now in the Southern  
Hemisphere.  http://www.srgc.org.uk/smf/   I receive an email  
notification when there has been a new posting in a topic I am  
interested in.

So - here they are, giving away information.  Why would anyone  
actually pay the $32 for U.K. residents, or the $41 that I pay  
(automatically billed to my VISA every year)?  Well, there are good  
reasons:  benefits that only members get, and one page of the website  
spells them out. The most important to me is  seeds - they have an  
excellent seed exchange which is free.  This year there were 4300  
kinds to choose from, not quite as large as the Alpine Garden  
Society's list of 5600, but close.  I have never been to Scotland, so  
have not been able to make use of their other membership benefits.

Some of the smaller U.S. societies that I belong to are also very  
generous with their information.  As one of the administrators of  
three garden lists and a couple of websites, I know how much time is  
spent responding to both members and non-members.

I could go on about other clubs, but it would be more of the same:   
incredible friendliness and generosity.

If you do want to have a website and forum similar to that of the  
SRGC, it should not cost too much.  I believe the engine that runs the  
site is a free one.  (more generosity!)

Diane Whitehead
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

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