COVID-19 cleared calendars, and it was no exception for The Porch Club of Riverton. The nonprofit women’s association was hit hard when the pandemic took hold in South Jersey, and a year’s worth of fundraisers and rental bookings – along with all of the associated critical club income – disappeared.
“We’ve had to cancel everything,” member Pat Brunker said.
The silver lining is that Porch Club members rallied and powered through the past 12 months, and now, with restrictions easing and vaccine access expanding, they’re ready to get back to business.
And the first matter at hand? The Porch Club of Riverton’s Garden Tour 2021. Tickets are on sale for the event, which will be held rain or shine from 3 to 8 p.m. on Friday, May 21, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 22. Proceeds will support local charities and the club’s building fund.
Brunker, a Riverton resident, co-chairs the Garden Tour with fellow club member Debora Patras, of Mt. Laurel. The biennial tour, which has taken place since at least as far back as 1983, has a positive reputation throughout the area. And more importantly, club members felt it was an event they could bring back safely.
“This is a garden tour. It’s outside. It’s easy to space people,” Brunker said.
There will be COVID safety precautions in place. Hostesses at each garden will ensure participants are wearing masks, which will be provided for those who need one, and using hand sanitizer, as well as keep large crowds from forming.
“We think it’s going to draw a lot of people. People want to get out,” Patras said.
This year’s tour features nine gardens, primarily in Riverton and Cinnaminson. Some of the gardens are new for the tour, while others have been featured in the past. The styles are varied as well, such as one with native species, and another that Brunker considers “the grand garden,” with a huge landscaped property and very formal feel.
On Saturday, Howard Street will be closed for a vendor fair featuring plant sales, gardening items, environmental groups and more. The club is still looking for vendor participants. There is also a boxed lunch option on Saturday at the clubhouse, featuring food from Bacio Kitchen + Catering of Palmyra.
In addition to the pleasure of being outdoors and taking in the beautiful scenery, the Garden Tour can provide inspiration for both novice and experienced gardeners.
“That’s why we have hostesses,” Patras explained. “Some people say, ‘Oh my gosh, I really love that flower. I love that bush. Can you tell me about it?’”
“So there’s an educational component to it if people are interested in that,” Brunker added.
With the growing interest in gardening and outdoor spaces since the pandemic, Patras and Brunker expect the event will have a great turnout. Plus, it’s a perfect time to learn about Porch Club membership, with the 72 hostesses who will be in attendance.
“It’s a great way to meet people,” Brunker said of The Porch Club, which pulls membership from Riverton, Palmyra, Cinnaminson, Delran, Moorestown, Mt. Laurel and more surrounding towns.
“It really is,” Patras agreed. “There’s something going on almost every day here.”
A Garden Tour map and program will guide attendees through the gardens. Tickets for the tour are $20. For the tour plus the Saturday boxed lunch from Bacio Kitchen + Catering at the clubhouse, the cost is $30. There is no cap to ticket sales.
“We’re going to be seeing how it goes this year and be positive,” Brunker said.
“We do feel confident,” Patras noted, adding with a laugh, “A million can come here if they want. Keep them coming!”
Purchase tickets at http://theporchclub.org or in person at the Riverton Library, The New Leaf Tea Room, Tillie’s Trinkets, or Fresh Produce of Palmyra. For more information, call (609) 304-6620. Vendors are sought for the Saturday event. Cost is $25 to take part, and interested parties can email Hilary Brennan at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Porch Club of Riverton is located at 213 Howard St., Riverton.