Sunday, May 22, 2011

Doin' the Walk

Most garden walks are fund raisers for a charitable organization - I'll talk about those today.  A few are for showcasing public gardens or for product endorsements.

If you're thinking about using the garden walk for a fund raiser, here are a few question you may want to consider:

  1. Will there be at least 4 to 8 gardens the public is willing to pay to see?
  2. Are area people willing to welcome the public into their gardens?
  3. Do the gardens have different features/themes from each other?
  4. Are the gardens located close enough that they may all be viewed in one 4 - 6 hour period?
  1. Will your organization have enough volunteers to organize the event and staff the gardens?
  2. Will the profits (after expenses) be used for a specific philanthropic purpose?
  3. Does your organization have up-front capital dollars to spend to sponsor the event?
  4. Can you have the commitment of the gardeners one year prior to the event?
  5. Will you give the gardeners your commitment so they won't work/buy for nothing?
--------------------------organization tips:
  1. Invite all possible garden owners to get together the spring prior to the year you plan the walk.  This will allow them time to consider, commit or decline.  You will know if the plan can work.  They will know they have a whole complete growing season to get ready for the next summer's walk.
  2. Decide what month to hold the walk.  Discuss what season most of the gardens will be the most lush.  Consider the weather during that month (rain, humidity, heat/cold, insects.)
  3. Decide the hours of the walk (when does dark set in, best weather).  It should be long enough for visitors to see all gardens but not so long your hosts and volunteers become worn out.
  4. Decide how much to charge.  This depends on the quality of the gardens, your locale, and your income goal - be realistic.
  5. Have a group of volunteers willing to do everything necessary to get the walk organized and an expanded group to help with the prep and the day of the walk.
  6. Consider if you will sell water, lunch/snacks, other merchandise. 
  7. Will any gardens have music or entertainment?
  8. Do you want to include an art show, plant sale, demonstrations?
  9. Will there be a theme?
  10. Will you include gardens that accompany public areas (churches, municipal parks, business).
------------------------you will need:
  1. Advertisement (paid ad, story articles, posters, brochures, pictures) 
  2. Tickets & programs printed (including a map)
  3. Signs or other walk designation at each house (we used hand painted flags which the owners got to keep).
  4. For the ticket taker:  A table & chair at each garden, money box & change, shade/umbrella for the table if rainy or very hot.
  5. Depending on the size of the garden, additionally, you will need at least 2-4 volunteers to wander the garden to make sure there are no problems.
  6. Develop a plan to thank the garden hosts and volunteers (a present, host a party, etc.)
  1. Not allowing strollers.
  2. If the gardens are not handicap accessible, include in your advertising.
  3. Hold rain or shine - it's difficult to keep their gardens this perfect for several weeks.
  4. Find out if the hosts want to mingle or be gone. 
  5. What is the plan if something is damaged or stolen (the home owner's insurance).
  6. Have the host's house either locked or manned by family. 
  7. Do not allow visitors to use hosts bathrooms.  Have several public restroom options.
  8. Realize a few visitors will be unkind and inconsiderate.  Talk about this with the hosts and volunteers before the walk.
Putting on a garden walk is quite a bit of work for the volunteers and hosts.  With good pre-planning, it will also be a great day for everyone. 

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