In May 1913, in the small farming community of Ambler, Pennsylvania, 300 women, led by Louisa King of Alma, Michigan, discussed plans to “promote horticultural and agricultural interests throughout the country between women bound by this common interest.” Organized in January 1914, the Women’s National Agricultural and Horticultural Association elected Mrs. King its first president. Renamed Woman’s National Farm & Garden Association, to emphasize the individual responsibility of each member, the association was formally incorporated in October 1919.
In the meantime, with World War I taking men from the farm fields, WNF&GA was actively assisting in the creation of the Women’s Land Army (the “Farmerettes”).  Founded in December 1917, the WLA placed more than 20,000 women on farms in 20 states. In 1919, WNF&GA was recognized for its work in wartime food production by the National War Garden Commission.

In 1926, the Michigan Division was formed to provide structure for the Garden Clubs in Michigan. Mrs. Clara (Henry) Ford was inducted as National President in 1927, and her focus on marketing and empowering women helped the Michigan Division and National organization grow quickly. It was during her presidency that the familiar Farm & Garden logo – the spade and distaff – was introduced. Mrs. Ford remained president until 1934 when her health began to fail.  The Cotswold Cottage at Greenfield Village is dedicated to her and attests to her love of gardens and her affection for the Woman’s National Farm & Garden Association.  In 1966, Matilda Dodge Wilson served as National President, and her home at Meadow Brook Hall has hosted several Farm & Garden events through the years.

The Michigan Division continues today with 29 branches and  1,400 members; more than 23 of the branches are in the greater Detroit metropolitan area. Branch programs and events raise funds for a variety of local horticultural and environmental projects: school and community gardens, beautification and restoration, therapy and food gardens, and more.

Education is a particular focus of the Michigan Division. In addition to the local scholarships that our Branches support, the Division has two permanent endowments for education:

  • The University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens for student internships
  • The Michigan 4-H Foundation for scholarship, volunteer training, and foreign youth exchange (read about our 4-H connection here)

An annual International Tea is hosted each year to raise funds for the Michigan 4-H International Foreign Youth Exchange (IFYE) program.

Our Daffodil Project on Belle Isle is a Division-wide project, aimed at restoring Belle Isle “one daffodil at a time.” As of fall 2015, we have planted 200,000 bulbs toward a goal of 700,000, and have seen the effort gain widespread support and attention.

The Division also supports the “Pennies for Friendship” project of the Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW), which seeks to improve the quality of life for women around the world through advocacy, skills training, and financial support for grassroots development projects. WNF&GA is an ACWW member.

In 2014, the Woman’s National Farm & Garden Association celebrated its Centennial, inspiring a closer look at its rich history and the fascinating, pioneering women who shaped the organization over these 100 years. From the Women’s Land Army, to the growth of 4-H, and the establishment of horticultural therapy as a profession, the women of Farm & Garden have played significant roles in these and many other endeavors. We carry on with pride the work of our Founding Mothers, and work together to grow beautiful, sustainable communities.

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