Introducing a club
ODESSA CLUB OF CACTOPHYLES
Anatoly Balabashchenko, the Chairman of "Aztekium-72" club
Translated by Irina Ten
Photo 1. Anatoly Balabashchenko, the Chairman of the "Aztekium-72" club
Odessa in Ukraine is a port city at the Black Sea shore and the biggest scientific, cultural and industrial center of the Northern Black Sea region. It has a population of over 1 million people.
The history of the first cacti club in Odessa began in the early 70-s. In September 1972 the first meeting and then later a constituent assembly, which gathered 7 people, took place. Two months later I was elected the Chairman of the club, since then I have been honored to be re-elected for this post for more than 30 years.
Cacti & succulents shows and monthly meetings are the main activities of the club. At the meetings we have lectures on various succulent and cacti topics, slide-shows, regular mini-shows on different subjects (the last one was devoted to cristate cacti), tutorials for novices, and informal networking. Preparation and conducting of reviews is assigned to more experienced members. The club owns a big library. A good tradition of the club is to celebrate the members' birthdays and to present them with cacti, seeds or books. Every year, in the end of December, the club has a New Year Eve feast. A cacti quiz, lottery, awards on different nominations (for example, "The Most Active Member of the Club" or "The Most Passive Member") usually take place at the feast; a short report about club activity is also presented.
Several times a year we hold shows. Traditional spring show (May 9-10) has never been cancelled or postponed in 30 years of the club's existence. Also club members participate in a show dedicated to the City Foundation Day in the beginning of September and recently in a show on Environment Day in the end of April.
The collections of the club members are constantly replenished via exchanges between cactophiles and also by the seeds purchased from foreign nurseries. Our collections contain approximately about 1,300 cacti species not counting other succulents. For example, Anatoly Kvasnyuk owns the biggest lithops collection in Ukraine (over 100 species). My colleagues believe that my collection with more than 1,200 cacti species only might be one of the largest in Ukraine.
In recent years the club grew thanks to young people who crave for knowledge and actively participate in club activities. They are as a fresh wind to us and now the club moves ahead full steam combining knowledge and experience of older members with energy of new-comers. I'd like to especially mention some of the new members of the club here: Natalya Ellis who translates into Russian and publishes English bulletin of "Mesembryanthemum Group" (the unique highly specialized edition distributed in the countries of the former USSR), Tatiana Tyushchenko, the Secretary and Librarian of the club and Irina Mironyuk, the Curator of the cacti collection of the Odessa State University Botanical Garden.