The Gardeners of America
To promote gardening education and related environmental issues to our membership and the gardening public through charitable, educational and scientific means.
To research, develop and publicize new and improved gardening techniques, encompassing all facets of horticulture
To research and promote ways gardeners can contribute to safeguarding and improving the environment
To render service to all members and the gardening public through educational programs and by developing and distributing garden information
A proud history of service
to America’s gardens
In 1927, engineer Leo W. Nack won an annual garden contest sponsored by a Chicago newspaper. The resulting publicity made his 45 x 60 foot garden a center of attraction and many gardeners came to see and admire his garden.
He observed that many of the admirers were men who seemed to have a keen interest in gardening. In response, on March 15, 1928, he led the formation of the Men's Garden Club. So far as we know, this was the first men's garden club. Nack was the first club President.
Word about the Chicago's Men's Garden Club filtered through the Midwest and by late winter 1930, three more clubs were formed, in Fort Wayne, Indiana; Des Moines, Iowa and Aurora, Illinois.
On September 25, 1932 a convention was called to organize the Men's Garden Clubs of America. Bill B. Lathrop of Aurora, a moving force for the formation of a national organization, was the temporary chairman. Harold J. Parnham of Des Moines was the temporary secretary. Also attending were John Gustafson, Arthur Brownwell, James K. Burdett and Oakley V. Morgan from Chicago. Ernest Koenemann and Don White came from Fort Wayne and Robert S. Gerrick and Alfred Hottes represented Des Moines, Iowa.
The next day, September 26, 1932, the Men's Garden Clubs of America was born. The first national president was Alfred C. Hottes. Bill Lathrop was the first secretary and James K. Burdett was the first treasurer. Gustafson, Koenemann, Morgan and Parnham were the first directors.
In 1933 and 1934, national conventions were held in Chicago. In 1935, Fort Wayne hosted the event and in 1936 members met in Cleveland. Through the balance of the Depression years, the organization grew at a rate of up to 10 clubs each year. When World War II came along, growth became irregular. At the end of the war, a new interest was signaled when 11 new clubs were chartered.
Annual conventions continued, with 27 clubs added by 1960. Interest continued to grow, with gardeners actively dedicated to increasing productivity of their home gardens, improving the beauty of their communities and enhancing their environment through gardening.
To reflect the growing diversity in gardening and its membership, the organization changed its name to The Gardeners of America/Men's Garden Clubs of America in 1992. TGOA/MGCA welcomes and urges men and women – everyone who loves gardening – to join.
Today, The Gardeners of America spreads across America – in large cities, suburban areas, and in towns of every size – wherever there are gardeners.
For decades, TGOA was headquartered in Johnston, Iowa. In 2020, the offices transferred to the Wooster, Ohio campus of The Ohio State University, home of the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. The new location promises many partnerships and possibilities for this 92-year-old organization.
No other organization promotes home gardening on the scale of The Gardeners of America. We propagate good gardeners and good gardening ideas.