“They appreciate our business — the box says so,” Darren Hayes joked as he opened a box of steaming cheese pizza from Orono House of Pizza. Giggles erupted around the table, as bags of tortilla chips were opened and cookies were munched on.
“We used to be known as the snack club, because we had so many snacks,” Hayes explained.
Darren Hayes is the president of the University of Maine’s Horticulture Club.
As a graduate student pursuing his master’s degree in environmental horticulture, Hayes is passionate about the Horticulture Club. Vice president, Sage McClain, who supplied the pizza, is a fourth-year student pursuing her bachelor’s in sustainable horticulture.
According to their UMaine webpage, the Horticulture Club began in 1989, and serves, “as an academic group for the UMaine community as a way to expand students’ formal education with exposure to some of the many facets in the field of Horticulture.” The club receives their funding from Student Government in addition to some large-scale fundraising events. Members do not pay dues.
“Horticulture club is a wonderful way to meet new fronds [sic] that share a love of plants and have a fun thyme [sic] getting our hands dirty,” McClain joked with horticultural flair in an email.
The Horticulture Club participates in the annual Bangor Garden Show each year by building their own outdoor garden display. There are about nine members in the Horticulture Club, including McClain and Hayes. They are down five members from last year, whom they lost after last May’s graduation.
Stephen Ritz-Perkins is an environmental horticulture student who has been in the club since he began his academic career at UMaine. According to Ritz-Perkins, the loss of senior members will create complications during this year’s Bangor Garden Show.
“Our older members [who graduated] … were the ones with the connections to the local businesses like the ones we purchased the stones we used for the steps [in our display] from. We paid very little,” Ritz-Perkins said. According to Ritz-Perkins, if the club needs materials from those local businesses at an attainable price, they’ll likely have to contact their previous members to make the connection.
Hayes says it’s issues like these that make Horticulture Club seem like a huge time commitment to prospective members. “This is a year of trying to rebuild the club and gain experience,” Hayes said. “I’d love to make the club less like work.”
Hayes and McClain are currently trying to up the appeal of Horticulture Club, and they have some big plans. From the screening of horticulture-related movies like “The Lorax” and “Little Shop of Horrors,” to a guest speaker who will demonstrate the practices of caring for bonsai flowers, Hayes is hoping to entice both horticulture-related majors, and students with totally unrelated majors. The club is also planning on doing an educational bit during a meeting that will include hands-on growing and plant propagation.
“It [the Horticulture Club] is a very seasonal activity, and we lost a lot of enthusiasm from the end of last semester to this semester,” Hayes said. “We just want people to be interested and come to meetings.”
The club is planning on holding their annual Valentine’s Day rose sale during the week leading up to the holiday. The fundraiser will be held in the Roger Clapp Greenhouses, across from Hitchner Hall, and the option to order roses in advance will be offered.
If you are interested in attending meetings or becoming a member of the Horticulture Club, you may request to join their Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/UMaineHortClub/.