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Dunwoody Garden Club holds 35th gala fundraiser

More than 300 attend festivities at Dunwoody United Methodist Church

The Dunwoody Garden Club kicked off a new year of gardening activities and service projects with a hugely successful 35th gala bridge party, luncheon and silent auction at Dunwoody United Methodist Church last week.

The club’s annual fundraiser attracted 308 people, including members of bridge clubs, garden clubs, master gardeners and various other community supporters.

Maria Richmond, a past-president of the club, opened the festivities in the church’s Fellowship Hall by welcoming everyone to the event and thanking them and the merchants for their support. She also handed out the first round of door prizes. After that, the bridge games and silent auction shopping began.

This year’s fundraiser is one Richmond will always remember. Her sister, Isabel Gross, and niece, Amelie Gross, were visiting from Salzburg, Austria and attended the gala.

What made the visit special was that until recently neither sister knew of the other. Richmond was born in Rothenbach, Germany and said she was given up for adoption when she was very young.

Her mother died recently, and as family members were mourning their loss in Austria a cousin asked Gross if she knew she had a sister. Richmond had no idea of a sister and no idea where she might be, but quickly began a search for her.

“She found me within a month!” Maria exclaimed.

Maria took great pleasure in introducing her sister and niece to friends at the gala and telling the story of how they met. The visitors were embraced by the community, marveled at the enthusiastic atmosphere of the room and helped serve lunch.

The club once again enjoyed the heartfelt support for the fundraiser from a broad base of merchants and authors -- 108 according to the list of donors in the program. The donated items included special values at restaurants and spas, jewelry, garden art, autographed books by Dunwoody authors and floral arrangements.

“The auction exceeds all of our expectations in the generosity of Dunwoody merchants,” said silent auction co-chair Sam Sears. “We are so happy with what we will be able to contribute to the community in the future with the proceeds from this event.

“It took a lot of people to put this together,” Sears said in recognizing the many members of the club who helped plan and staff the auction.

“We are so appreciative of the ongoing support from people like the Dunwoody Woman’s Club, bridge groups, the DeKalb Federation of Garden Clubs and the many, many Dunwoody merchants,” added Garden Club co-President Betty Dworschak.

Money raised from ticket sales and auction proceeds supports the club’s beautification projects in the city. These include the new butterfly garden in Brook Run Park and landscaping at the Dunwoody Library and Dunwoody High School. The club also maintains the Resident’s Garden at Dunwoody Pines Senior Living Community, the atrium planter at the library and members work at Donaldson-Bannister Farm, the Dunwoody Nature Center and the Dunwoody Farmhouse.

The club meets most months on the second Wednesday at the library. Meeting details are posted on the website: www.dunwoodygardenclub.com.

Grow Dunwoody student leaders Danny Kanso and Robert Galerstein led a workday at Dunwoody High school last week to kick off the installation of five new organic garden beds on the front lawn.

Under the watchful eye of chemistry teacher and Grow Dunwoody faculty sponsor Ellen Augustine, Kanso, founder and director of Grow Dunwoody, and Galerstein, the assistant director, took turns churning up the new garden area behind a rented tiller.

Kanso and Galerstein also received advice on operating the tiller from Peter Duquemin, owner of Peter’s Natural Gardening in Alpharetta and a Grow Dunwoody sponsor.

Grow Dunwoody is an effort to start or enhance organic gardening programs at all Dunwoody cluster schools with support from community civic groups and merchants as well as the Dunwoody campus of Georgia Perimeter College.

The soil in the new garden should have a strong base, Augustine said. It’s in the same area where a garden for students studying environmental science and weather was located before Dunwoody High was renovated. During the construction phase, trailers were placed in the old garden area.

The plan is for the new garden to consist of five beds, each four-feet wide and 20-feet long. Augustine said she thinks the students could be planting the new beds in the next month.

She’s hoping to receive seeds from the county for carrots, cabbage, collards and lettuce and, perhaps, other vegetables. Some of the produce will be donated to food banks and some will be used in Home Economics classes.

“We can’t use it in the cafeteria,” Augustine said, “because that food has to be USDA inspected.”

Kanso, Galerstein and Augustine received support for their visionary leadership in Grow Dunwoody from state Sen. Fran Millar during Children’s Day at the Capitol last Tuesday.

Millar praised the Grow Dunwoody team for their dedication and work in enhancing the quality of education at Dunwoody High School and at schools throughout the community.  He also introduced the group to lawmakers from the House and Senate and other policymakers so they could explain the program’s origins, progress and vision to them.

Kanso, Galertein and Augustine attended Children’s Day with Georgia Organics, the leader in the Farm to School movement in Georgia.

As part of the activities, the DHS representatives set up a joint table with Georgia Organics and handed out fliers detailing the program’s goals, impact, and reach. They also distributed a copy of a mayoral proclamation supporting Grow Dunwoody (http://growdunwoody.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/PROCLAMATION.pdf).

“Overall, the day was a resounding success, allowing Grow Dunwoody to garner greater awareness and support while also demonstrating the goals of Georgia Organics,” said Kanso.

The Dunwoody Nature Center’s much-anticipated spring plant sale is under way.

The sale features wildflowers and other ephemerals and is online only. Visit www.dunwoodynature.org/do/plantsale/Spring2012plantsale.html to see photographs and descriptions of plants on the sale and to place orders.

“We at the Nature Center are excited to offer wildflowers at our spring pre-order plant sale,” said Kendra Boyer, a Master Gardener co-site leader. “This is the first time we have offered wildflowers and ephemerals, plants which cannot easily be purchased even at some of our local specialty nurseries.  These plants are grown by a reputable licensed grower in North Carolina, and we hope our gardening enthusiasts will take advantage of this unique opportunity.”

All orders must be placed by March 31. Payment may be made with Mastercard, Visa or Discover cards.

Pick up dates for plants are 2-4 p.m. Friday, April 13 and 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 14.

All profits from the sale benefit the Dunwoody Nature Center's various programs and projects.  This sale and the one scheduled for the fall are facilitated by the Master Gardeners who volunteer at the Nature Center.

The Dunwoody urban oasis is one of about 20 sites where DeKalb County Master Gardeners perform volunteer activities. Rita Johnston serves as the Nature Center co-site leader with Boyer.

Boyer has worked at Nature Center for about 10 years. Johnson has been there about four years.

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