The History of the Tillers & Toilers Garden Club
The Tillers & Toilers Garden Club originated in the fall of 2000 through the efforts of Peggy Head and Sandy Williams. Together, they had previously worked on the REAP project which installed lampposts on the Village Green and envisioned a group to continue with beautification in the village. Sandy’s meeting in her home to determine interest was very successful. We began with our name suggested by Karen Strope and the first project focused on decorating the bandstand for Christmas. In the spring of 2001, we placed flowerpots along Main Street and at the Trout Ponds.
Sandy Williams later moved from Newark Valley and Peggy Head”s schedule prohibited full participation in the club. During this time period, Patti Cawley and Joan Knapp became Co-Chairs of the garden club.
The Village found it necessary, in 2001, to remove many of the remaining trees on the Green, due to disease, leaving it quite barren. Our attention was then expanded to enhancing the architectural features of the Municipal Building, Library and Bandstand through landscape design. The garden club was still meeting in homes of club members and during the April meeting Karen Strope was asked to be President of the Tillers & Toilers Garden Club.
Careful research, landscape design and proposed plans from Cornell Students along with many fundraisers and several donations enabled us to accomplish a large portion of a three year plan in the first year of 2003. We began regular meetings in the Noble Room each month. The beginning of our project focused on the area central to our plans, the green. We began by adding three teak benches, architectural details to the bandstand and landscaping with trees, shrubs and flowers.
By 2004, we were ready to add the hardscape to our project. This included the brickwork at the two corners of the Green on Main Street. The idea was to visually tie it to the brick of the historic buildings behind it. We also began our landscaping at the Municipal Building.
During the year 2005, the front of the Bandstand was opened for easy access from Main Street. Brick stairs and sidewalk in front of it added continuity with the two brick corners. More hardscape was installed to the front of the Municipal Building including brickwork around the flagpole and the post boxes. A short cut path of brick leads to the back of the building. The club finished landscaping at the Municipal during this year.
Removal of two trees and tainted soil from a black walnut tree enabled us to accomplish the majority of our landscape design at the Library. Two cast iron urns were placed in front of both the Municipal and Library buildings.
In 2006, we continued with maintenance of all the areas previously described and refurbishing of the flagpole at the Library. We also began implementing the plans for the butterfly garden at the directory sign corner.
During the year 2007, under new leadership, Judy Eldridge, we will improve upon the butterfly garden while maintaining our established gardens. We plan to continue fostering pride and community spirit through our strong participation of village wide events.
In the past, our village green and bandstand has been used by organizations for bottle drives and Christmas tree sales, as well as vendors at events and the occasional small weddings.