In 1930, Dr. Henry Turner Bailey designed the ‘spade and distaff’ logo of the Woman’s National Farm & Garden Association. We all recognize the spade or shovel on the left of the logo. But, what’s a distaff?

From biblical times to the industrial revolution, a distaff was used to spin thread. A short staff topped with a bundle of wool or flax fibers, a distaff was held in one hand, while, the other hand twisted fibers into thread spun around a spindle. Responsible for making every thread her family would wear, a woman’s hands were never idle. The distaff came to be the symbol for the work or domain of women. Together, the spade and distaff represent the tools of gardening and spinning — outdoor and indoor activities associated with the life of country women.


  • We enjoy personal enrichment through gardening, growth and use of herbs, flower arranging, crafts and increasing knowledge of the natural world in which we live.
  • We get involved in our communities through beautification projects, and conservation and ecology programs.
  • We develop friendships with those who share our enthusiasm to enrich our communities.
  • We offer scholarships to qualifying students interested in agriculture and natural resources.
The Michigan Division consists of 29 local branches of the Woman’s National Farm and Garden Association, Inc. It is part of a two-tiered umbrella organization designed to stimulate an active interest in our natural resources; further educational, agricultural and horticultural interests; and to promote the purposes of the Woman’s National Farm and Garden Association, Inc.

The Michigan Division offers an identity to branches and provides them a base to carry out activities which they could not accomplish alone; made possible by an economy of scale, a broader pool of expertise and experience, and a sense of community and support.

The sense of community is demonstrated by our vision to establish endowments at the University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum and the Michigan 4-H Foundation; and our base of scholarships to encourage and provide opportunity for study in the areas of horticulture, agriculture and the environment. Donations to scholarships and distributions to existing funds total $100,000 yearly.

Look beyond your four walls or city limits and expand your horizons! Join an organization with a compelling mission and membership. You’ll find membership information here.

Woman using distaff and spindle to spin thread.