“[In] our horticulture department, this greenhouse is self-sustaining,” agriculture instructor Joey Dean said. “What we make off the plant sale goes 100 percent back into the greenhouse ..., if we didn’t sell the plants, we wouldn’t be able to have the plants.
“... I know that every group of kids [in the program] ensures the next group of kids will have horticulture.”
He said the program allows students to get a hands-on education in the field while also enjoying an activity they might otherwise not get to experience.
“I think, No. 1, they’re getting the scientific information on how plants start and grow, but even more so than that ... they get a work ethic to see what happens by their hands,” Dean said. “They get to get their hands dirty.
“Our kids are subdivision kids and apartment kids, they don’t have the things I had growing up in the middle of nowhere. Their parents probably don’t grow their own food, their parents probably don’t do their own landscaping, a lot of them, and in here [students] get a chance to be able to see what their work produces as far as these plants and landscaping projects around campus.”
The Daily Tribune News spoke to several students and learned tomatoes are this year’s most popular crop.
“[Tomatoes] grow so well and fast. Peppers take so long to grow and anything that flowers, we generally don’t see it flower before we sell,” Dean said.
However, students said working in the greenhouse and in Dean’s program offers more than just working in the dirt.
“My favorite part is interacting with people that come in from the community to support our chapter,” said senior Rebecca Bennett, who has participated in CHS’ Future Farmers of America Program since her freshman year.
Classmate Shannon Osborne, also a senior, started working with the school’s horticulture program this year.
“It’s very fun in here. It seemed like something I’d like to be [involved in],” Osborne said.
He said his favorite aspect of the class is growing the plants.
“I have my own set of plants, everybody has their own variety of plants in here [but] we work all over the greenhouse,” Osborne said.
Bennett and Osborne agreed, however, that the task of maintaining a greenhouse requires personal and group responsibility.
“All of us work in here together — it’s not just a one-person job because we couldn’t have gotten all of this done in the time we’ve gotten it done without everybody’s help,” Bennett said.
Students said the most difficult aspect of working in the greenhouse has been keeping the plants adequately watered and fertilized.
“Tomatoes — they drink a lot of water,” Osborne said. “We water all the plants two to three times a day.”
The plant sale will run from Monday, March 31, to April 4 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. During spring break, the event will last from April 7 to 9 from 4 to 6 p.m.