Welcome to the Keiki-Club

Words by
Georgina Reid
| June 27, 2016

A few years back, New York based artist and florist Aviva Rowley had a friend visiting from California. When she gave her a plant cutting to take home, her friend told her that in Hawaii when you give the gift of a baby plant it’s called a Keiki.  The word stuck in Aviva’s head, and soon after she launched the Keiki-Club, an open social community for friends and flora fanatics to come together and grow plants, share knowledge, and trade collections. I had a chat with Aviva to find out more about this most wonderful club.

Can you please tell us a little about yourself, and your life with plants.
I’m an artist and florist from Brooklyn, New York, but growing up, I never thought too much about plants. My mother has a wild garden in Brooklyn Heights, and I grew up playing in the dirt. People seem to think that born and bred New Yorkers are deprived nature, but I never felt that way. We have incredible parks (I used to get lost in Central Park all the time, literally lost).

I started working as a florist in college and have been immersed in the plant world ever since. Now I’m working with clay and creating objects that go hand in hand with indoor gardening.

Why did you start Keiki-Club?
There were a lot of factors leading up to the start of Keiki-Club. The idea seeded when I was living in a cramped West Village apartment back in 2010. I had just started working with flowers and was learning a lot. I had this incredible neighbour, Denise, who was the first real plant whisperer I met. She started giving me clippings and lent me books on how to propagate plants and grow indoors. When she passed away she left me her books, and her plants.  To this day I continue to pass her clippings on to friends and fellow enthusiasts, and in that way keep her memory, and her plants, alive.

Working as a florist, I’m surrounded by so many talented and insightful people who love plants as much as I do. I really wanted to learn more about plants and hear people’s stories while finding a way to expand my collection.

I really love the idea of a plant as a legacy, being able to share a plant and let it grow in different places under different care.

When did you start Keiki-Club?
We had our first official meet-up in 2014.

How many meet-ups have you had so far?
Four in New York and we just had our inaugural meet-up in San Francisco!

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What do you love most about the meet-ups?
Really its the community of people that come together. I feel so fortunate that I know so many incredible people with so much knowledge… Oh and of course the plants! They’re taking over my apartment, I’m going to start having to charge them rent!

What have you learned as a result of starting it up?
I’ve learned so, so much. I don’t consider myself a plant expert at all. I deal with plants in a very intuitive way and it’s been such a positive experience learning from other people. Some members are total experts and scholars who have specific information on specific plants, while others have learned to care through trial and error. The dynamic of the group is so rousing.

I imagine, the meet-ups are as much about sharing and storytelling as they are about plants? What are your thoughts on the ways plants bring us together?
On a very basic level it’s just like any club that brings people with similar interests together – from experts to novices. There is no judgement on how much or how little you know as long as you desire to know more. Then there is the basic philosophy that growing and caring for a ‘thing’ can improve your quality of life, the concept that we can share in that together is so rewarding.

Especially in such a rough city setting where growth can seem impossible at times.

What’s your aim for Keiki-Club?
To grow and learn together in a non-consumer way.

Is there anything else about Keiki-Club you’d like to tell us about?
We’re aiming to do four meetings a year in NYC and San Francisco. Each meeting will cumulate in a mailer and at the end of the year we are working towards putting together a little book of all the meetings including stories, information, and art!

What draws you to plants?
They have such a mysterious magnetism, don’t they? It’s so fascinating that you can pluck something up from the earth, bring it into your home, and help it thrive.

For more information on the Keiki-Club, visit the website here.

All images supplied by Aviva Rowley.

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