Flowering project -- Local high schools continue plant sales

Photo by Nate McCullough

Photo by Nate McCullough

COVINGTON -- Newton County high school students want to fill your yards and porches with colorful bedding plants, hanging flowers and vegetables.

Alcovy, Eastside and Newton high schools have started their annual spring plant sales at their schools.

"The students get a great experience out of this project," said Abbey Brown, adviser at Eastside High School.

Since earlier this school year, students have been learning about and growing various plants and vegetables to sell at this time of the year.

Alcovy High School

This school year, Alcovy High School is selling baskets of ferns, spider plants and wandering Jews for $10 each; Big Boy and Rutgers tomatoes for $2 per pot of four plants; and coleus bedding plants for $6 for a flat of 36 plants.

"All plants are grown in my general horticulture and nursery landscape classes," said adviser Ben Brand. "This sale funds our consumable supplies in the greenhouse."

The school has no set dates for sales -- customers are encouraged to e-mail Brand at brand.ben@newton.k12.ga.us or call him at 770-784-4995, ext. 2132 to place orders.

But some items could sell out.

"I choose plants that have sold well in the past," he said, adding that they have 140 ferns and 50 other hanging baskets this year. "I can never have enough ferns it seems."

Eastside High School

From 2 to 6 p.m. April 14, 15 and 16, classes and clubs at Eastside High School will be selling bedding plants like begonias and impatiens and 4-inch pots like coleus and geraniums ranging in price from 50 cents each to $15 per flat of 36 plants.

"(These) plants grow and thrive in spring and summer weather," Brown said. "The students in my horticulture, nursery and landscape and plant science classes are responsible for the plant production at Eastside."

She said students have studied plant identification, soil science, landscaping tools and other topics in class to coordinate with work in the school's greenhouse.

"They learn how to plant and germinate seeds, how to properly water plants, how to manage fertilizer applications and then how to arrange and plant them in landscapes," she said. "This is a lifelong skill that they will be able to use when they have a house of their own one day."

Her students said they feel challenged but also accomplished.

"I am enjoying learning how to properly take care of plants," said 10th-grader Rebecca Johnston. "You don't realize how hard it is until you actually do it."

The money from sales goes to the FFA and horticulture program at EHS.

"Each year, we have to purchase supplies for the following season," Brown said. "For example, more pots, hanging baskets, plant material and fertilizer has to be purchased each year. If a piece of equipment breaks, we use the money to get it fixed. As our program grows, we would like to grow a bigger variety of plants, and this money will allow us to do so."

She said FFA students also use funds to cover costs when they travel and compete in events around the state.

Those who can't make it to the sale times can call Brown at 770-784-2967 to arrange another time.

Newton High School

Students at Newton High School are selling a dozen bedding plants like begonias and marigolds, a dozen vegetables like various peppers and corn, purple heart and Benjamin fig tree 6-inch pots, 4-inch pots of verbena and other colorful plants and hanging baskets of ferns, geraniums and wandering Jews. Prices range from 50 cents each to $10 for baskets and flats of 36 plants.

"The students taking the general horticulture class utilize the greenhouse to help reinforce and strengthen what they have learned in the classroom," said adviser Justin Bennett. "It gives them a chance to get hands on learning in the area of greenhouse production. By the end of the semester, students have a wide range of knowledge, not only about the science behind plants, but also how to operate a production greenhouse."

From 3:30 to 6 p.m. April 15 and 16, guests can purchase the plants.

"We have planted over 10,000 bedding plants, 130 ferns and 2,500 vegetable plants," Bennett said. "This year, we were able to find a grower in central Georgia that would allow us to purchase smaller quantities of plugs, therefore, giving us a larger variety of plants, rather than just a lot of the same plants."

Plant sales support the agriculture and FFA programs at NHS.

"The money helps our students attend state and regional FFA conferences and conventions, as well as helps to support our local awards banquet at the end of the year," he said.

The advisers hope the community comes out to support their students and beautify their yards for spring and summer.

"These kids have worked hard, and they love to share this with the community and see that the work they've done was successful," Brown said. "We need the support from our community in order for our program to grow and continue to be successful."