We have two Gourd Patches at this time. You are welcome to join them at a gathering. Check the Event page when they are meeting or visit their webpage. Activities sponsored by the LGS
enrich the experiences of members that belong to our gourd patches.
Starting a Gourd Patch in Your Area
A New Gourdpatch in Ten Easy Steps -- Suggestions by A.B. Amis 11/19/01
1) COMMIT - AND THEN MAKE IT HAPPEN
Select a regular periodic meeting time and location that will be convenient for YOU, because YOUR presence and dedication are going to be key until the new patch is more or less able to stand on its own feet. You can consider changing the time and location to accommodate your members' preferences later, if need be, after you have established a sizable and stable membership. Saturday mornings have worked well for us. Free meeting rooms are typically available at libraries, bookstores, craft stores, etc.- all you have to do is ask. You may be asked to sign some paperwork, agreeing to be personably responsible for seeing to it that the facility's policies are observed relative to clean-up, non-discrimination, liability for damage, etc.
Preferably, find one or two other individuals willing to work with you in getting the patch started, because misery loves company, and there will probably be some initial disappointments as people you contact profess interest, but then don't show up for meetings.
2) PUBLICIZE THE MEETINGS
Develop an initial mailing/telephone list of people in your area whom you think might be interested in participating in a gourdpatch, send them postcards or letters a few weeks in advance of a planned first meeting, and then maybe follow this up with phone reminders shortly before the meeting. But perhaps even more important than this contact list. work hard to get announcement of meetings in the "Weekly Calendar" section of your local newspaper. Perhaps meeting notices placed in craft stores, plant nurseries, etc. could prove effective too, although we've never tried that. Ask participants to bring their own gourds, supplies, and tools if they have them, but note in the publicity that gourds, supplies, and tools will be available at the meeting for those who can't bring their own.
Have name badge blanks and a sign-in sheet on a table near the door. Ask everyone who attends your meetings to place their names, addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses on the sign-in sheet, and then use these sheets as a basis for making lists of people to be notified with "reminders" about later meetings, etc. (These lists may also be useful in periodically letting your "host" facility know that their meeting rooms are being well used.)
3) ARRANGE TO HAVE GOURDS AVAILABLE AT ALL THE MEETINGS
The availability of gourds at the meetings is a strong incentive for newbies and hike-warm gourders to attend. Do some of your members, or prospective members, grow gourds that they would be willing to bring to the meetings for sale to other members? Will others perchance be traveling to gourd shows, or to other places where gourds can be bought in quantity? Any kinds of gourds will do fine initially - the members can fit crafting projects to whatever gourds are available to them, and only later, after the patch has grown to the point where specific, pre-planned workshop projects are the norm, should there be much concern about having the "right" kinds of gourds available.
4) ARRANGE TO HAVE SPECIALIZED GOURD TOOLS/SUPPLIES AT THE MEETINGS
You've probably seen it happen - the first time a person takes one of those mini-jigsaws in his hands and cuts a gourd; he's hooked, and can hardly sleep until he owns one! So try to have a jigsaw, wood burner, Dremel, your favorite gourd-cleaner-outer, etc. at the meetings. Paints of course, and may be leather dyes as well - most people are probably familiar with paints and painting supplies, but the use of dyes is usually an interesting new idea to them. Pine needles, palm seed stems, philodendron sheaths, Krylon lacquer, etc. And Ginger Summit's books, too, of course.
5) HAVE A BRAG TABLE WHERE MEMBERS CAN DISPLAY CURRENT PROJECTS
Try to bring work yourself illustrating a variety of Crafting techniques, and encourage everyone to bring their latest creations - no matter how amateurish. Brag on all efforts, and offer encouragement.
6) DON'T WORRY TOO MUCH ABOUT ORGANIZED PROGRAMS AT FIRST
For the first few meetings, it should be enough just to get together and talk gourds and do "show and tell" and maybe cobble up some simple project on the spot based on whatever gourds and tools are at hand - maybe nothing more than having the attendees try out the various Grafting techniques on gourd scraps. Just publicize the meeting as "Fun With Gourds" or something non-committal like that. There are also a few hours of homemade FGS gourd videos available for showing, by way of introducing members to what a gourd show is, and who some of their fellow FGS members are.
(ideas compiled by Sue Brown in Sarasota, Florida, 2002)
This information may be used without permission in entirety or in part.
Good luck and have fun!!!