By Anna Jane Bayer
In 1923, a group of women met with the president of the Allegheny County division of the Women’s National Farm and Garden Association to organize the Kennedy Township Farm and Garden Club. In 1965 the name was changed to the Kennedy Garden Club.
The original membership totaled 27 women and dues were $2 a year. Today the membership totals 30 and includes both men and women. Dues are now $15 dollars a year.
The club met at the former Ken Mawr Elementary School on Pine Hollow Road, now home to Merakey Allegheny Valley School.
The club now meets on the second Tuesday of the month at the Ken Mawr United Presbyterian Church just a block away.
In the early days, members kept handwritten records of their activities in journals. Today minutes are prepared on the computer and printouts are distributed to members at the meetings.
Just a few months after the club was organized, members held their first flower show.
The ladies got to show off their abilities in flower arranging.
Notable judges throughout the area came to look over, critique, and award ribbons for their work.
In the early days, the club planted cherry trees along the driveway of the then newly built (1949) Ohio Valley General Hospital in Kennedy Township (now a part of Heritage Valley Health System).
Today, Kennedy Garden Club members plant seasonal plants at the Heckel Road Fountain and bestow Yard of the Year Awards to persons who beautify the community with their yards.
The club very early on valued civic duty. One of its first tasks was to promote the cleanup of a local garbage dumping ground in the area of the current Kennedy Center shopping area.
During World War II members promoted victory gardens.
Through the Civilian Defense Effort, they sponsored and directed the hospital canning project, canning 5,600 quarts of fruits and vegetables each year. It was a natural carryover, as members already were growing their own fruits and vegetables to feed their families.
Today civic duty is demonstrated by preparing goodie bags for distribution to Meals on Wheels recipients for Valentine's Day and Halloween, donating canned foods and non-perishables to the Ken Mawr United Presbyterian Church food pantry, and other community activities.
Environmental and horticultural issues continue to be important, so reports are given at monthly meetings about current environmental and horticultural topics.
Scholarships are made available to local students, as well.
The early club held picnics at members’ homes. Entire families would attend, complete with picnic baskets and blankets for the lawn. Today a summer picnic is held at Fairhaven Park for members and invited guests.
New members are welcome to join our meetings on the second Tuesday of each month at 11 a.m. at the Ken Mawr United Presbyterian Church’s Sharpe Hall, 1760 Pine Hollow Road, Kennedy Township.
For more information, call Judy Fritzges, president, at (412) 331-6175 or (412) 298-1020.
Editor’s note: Writer Anna Jane Bayer is a Kennedy Garden Club member.