PACE — The Azalea Garden Club of Pace hosted its first District 1 meeting, with 108 gardeners from Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties in attendance. 

Pace Chamber of Commerce President Randy Jorgenson, who gave opening remarks, spoke of how plant beautification enriches the community, adding value to neighborhoods. He shared his appreciation for gardeners throughout District 1 and especially to the Azalea Garden Club of Pace for being such an active asset to one of the fastest growing communities in Florida.   

Former President Sharon Johnson pinned Sandra Sherman, the incoming Florida Federation of Garden Clubs District 1 president, in the passing-of-the-gavel ceremony. Two FFGC state officers, Gina Jogan and Tina Tuttle, attended with numerous former officers and current club presidents throughout the four counties. Sherman stated that her theme for the next two years of service will focus on “Going Native.”

Ken Johnson, business owner, mediator, author and principal chief of the Florida Tribe of Cherokee Indians, spoke on native plants and medicinal herbs. A question-and-answer period followed.

FFGC awards went to many clubs, with Valparaiso taking home the most. Johnson received the Pillar of Pride award. Sherman received FFGC’s Inspired Gardener award for her years of contributions to gardening. Azalea Garden Club of Pace, the newest club in District 1, received two state awards: one for Publications for its club brochure designed by Margie Baldwin, and another for Environmental Education for children’s programs on crafting bee houses to encourage non-stinging leaf cutter bees, planting potatoes and butterfly gardens at the Pace Library. Azalea’s president, Jean Rognstad, received both awards for the club. 

The garden club expressed gratitude for all who helped plan, decorate and host the event, particularly Pace High School students Dylan Robinson and Brandon Ard, for their help, and to 19 classmates who helped set up and clean.