Beginning in the fall of 2002, the Sun City Texas Horticulture Club was established by those residents looking for a “critter free” site to grow vegetables, fresh fruits and natural herbs. The community home builder and developer, Del Webb, generously gifted 5.6 acres of property on which to start the neighborhood organic garden. The builder additionally provided monies which were matched by the club members in helping get the venture moving. By the end of 2003, with the help of one hundred forty five men and women, the Charter Club selected the title of Sun City Horticulture Club.
An old home located on property owned by the builder was slated to be demolished and club members suggested that lumber from the demolition be reused. The lumber can be seen in the lovely arbors built by club members in the herb garden area. The original windmill near the old home has been recycled too. Club members are most proud of the windmill that stands as a tall sentry at the front gate. The Chicago built Aermotor A/702 was completely disassembled and the windmill tower, fan and motor were then rebuilt and refurbished including re-lettering the dealer’s name on the fantail.
The property was increased by approximately two acres at the time that the developer moved the location of the boulevard in front of the garden areas. Club participants mounted the eight foot high deer-proof fencing surrounding the perimeter. The fenced enclosure incorporates more than 260 elevated gardening plots, a vineyard, an orchard, a rainwater recovery system and barn which contains machines such as wheelbarrows, garden tools, along with other garden accessories. The garden section was initially cleared and flattened by club members as well as installing in excess of 8,000 feet of water pipe from the deep well pump house to deliver to the garden beds and public places with personal water plugs.
A feedback survey of club membership discloses that the typical age is 68 both for males and females, most people were raised on a farm or had access to a garden plot as small children, most learned how to to do some gardening from their own parents, grandfather and grandmother or perhaps good friends, loved playing in the dirt as children and never ever outgrew it, and bring a lot of talents to the garden together with their passion for cultivating things.
The Horticulture Club has grown to include Special Interest Groups such as Beekeeping, Community Outreach, Herb Garden, Nursery, Orchard, Tool Maintenance and Vineyard. There are now two hives of honeybees that not only pollinate the garden’s vegetables and flowers, but also provide many pounds of honey sold by members to support the club. Community Outreach has grown over one ton of fresh organic produce per year that has been donated to the Caring Place Food Bank and Annunciation Maternity Home. Many hundreds of pounds of vegetables have also been shared with Sun City neighbors, friends and relatives.
A lot of the Club regular members are Master Gardeners who’ve earned specialized schooling from the Williamson County Master Gardeners Association. Actually, 4 of the club members helped to build the 1st Master Gardener training course in Williamson County in 2007. This particular provider educates eager individuals according to the guidance of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service (part of the Texas A & M System) in becoming Certified Master Gardeners. The course is limited to 35 vacancies and there is continually a waiting list.
The Sun City residents who have become Master Gardeners quite often readily share their working experience with the Club and the community. They are continually learning improved techniques to expand end production yields of fruits and veggies, xeriscaping methods, adapted indigenous plants for landscaping, management of harmful insects without using pesticides, and instead using all natural top dressing and mulch ingredients.
The Nursery Group preserves plants from throughout Sun City and nurtures them for resale or utilization in landscape design throughout the garden. Twice yearly the Sun City Texas Horticulture Club Nursery Group organizes a plant sale as a method of generating revenue for the club. The Club most always has all varieties of annuals, perennials, bearded iris, Texas indigenous plants, vegetables and herbs and additionally compost, compost tea and mulch for purchase.
Over 400 members strong, Sun City Texas Horticulture Club invites visitors to come play in the dirt!