Brief History of the Kalamazoo Dunes Orchid Society

In 1977, Gerald Westfall contacted several orchid growers in the Kalamazoo area to begin a discussion of forming an orchid club.  Finding a positive response, he, with several others, proceeded with the organization and developed the constitution and by-laws of the Kalamazoo Valley Orchid Society as it was then known. The goals of the society included the dissemination of orchid culture among the members and the fostering of interest in growing and blooming orchids among the general public through orchid displays and participating in orchid shows.

The officers of the Society consist of a president, vice-president (who is also program chairman), secretary, and treasurer, each elected for a two-year term.  In addition, three Trustees are elected, each for a three-year term.  The officers and Trustees constitute the Board of Directors, which has general charge and direction of the affairs and business of the Society.

The Society started with 42 charter members from southwestern Michigan and northern Indiana.   Meetings began in 1978 and are held at 2:00 pm on the first Sunday of each month with the exception of July and August in which meetings are not held.  The December meeting is a holiday party and the June meeting a picnic with the food provided by the members.

The first meeting place was the community room of Fidelity Federal Savings and Loan at the corner of West Main Street and Drake Road in Kalamazoo.  It soon became evident that a larger and more suitable meeting place was necessary.  The meetings were shifted to the Kalamazoo Garden Council House, then to the Kalamazoo Nature Center, then Kalamazoo Valley Community College and finally to the present meeting place at Bronson Athletic Club.

In 1985, members of the Dunes Orchid Society contacted the officers of the Kalamazoo Valley Orchid Society about merging the two societies.  The merger took place in 1986 and the name became Dunes-Kalamazoo Orchid Society.  The constitution and by-laws were appropriately amended.

In 2013, because of logistical issues, the society updated it’s name to Kalamazoo Dunes Orchid Society. The constitution and by-laws were appropriately amended. And in 2014, the society was granted 501(c) (3) non-profit status.

Meetings consist of presentations by members and outside speakers, as well as slide shows from the American Orchid Society and the Orchid Digest.  Members are encouraged to bring their blooming plants for “show and tell” and plants for auction.  Proceeds from the plant auction and annual dues provide the funds for the Society.

The Society has conducted two shows judged by the American Orchid Society and participates in shows organized by other local orchid societies, as well the Flowerfest in Kalamazoo and the show sponsored by the Kalamazoo Nursery and Landscape Association.


Written by Joe Kanamueller