Asmall group of students from Crothersville High School has spent the past few months cultivating and growing its knowledge of horticulture science.

From identifying characteristics of different types of plants to understanding seed germination and learning landscaping techniques, Linda Begley’s students have dug their hands in to experience the subject in a unique way.

Instead of learning from a textbook, the class is operating its own greenhouse, which has now become full of beautiful, colorful flowers and hearty vegetable plants.

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This Saturday at 9 a.m., with some help from Crothersville’s FFA chapter, the students will open the greenhouse to the public for their annual plant sale. This marks the 29th year the class has grown and sold plants as a fundraiser.

All proceeds from the sale will be used to purchase greenhouse supplies, including seeds for next year.

If you can’t make it to Saturday’s sale, you can stop by the greenhouse from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays to make a purchase through the end of the school year or until all plants are gone.

A variety of plants will be available, including flowers, vegetables and herbs, all of which the students have grown themselves. FFA members will be grilling and selling pork burgers, too.

The event is the same day as the Crothersville community yard sales to take advantage of all the people out shopping for bargains, Begley said.

The first 50 greenhouse customers will receive a free garden starter pack of nine plants, one per family, which includes a mix of tomato, cucumbers, peppers, squash and kohlrabi.

“What other greenhouse gives away 450 plants for free?” Begley said.

The giveaway, sponsored by the FFA, serves a bigger and more important purpose than just attracting customers, though, senior FFA member Madison Isenhower said.

It is a way for the organization to promote food security in the community and to teach people how to grow their own food, she said.

“We hope that local gardeners will take these plants home and nurture them until they produce, and with any extra, they can share with their family, friends or neighbors,” Isenhower added.

Students also will be available during the sale to answer people’s questions about the plants and gardening in general.

To learn how to grow different kinds of flowers and vegetables, the class focused on variety and quality, not quantity, Begley said.

In the winter, students went through a seed catalogue and chose which seeds they wanted to order. They were then responsible for planting and watering them and making sure they grew and were healthy.

“We try to pick what we think people in the community would like,” said FFA President junior Deven Lemen.

Customers will be able to choose from wave petunias, zinnias, marigolds, coleus, snapdragons, salvia, impatiens, begonias, dusty miller, alyssum and sunflowers.

Flowers are available individually, in three-packs and in hanging baskets, Begley said.

Vegetable plants include several varieties of tomatoes and peppers, summer squash, kohlrabi, eggplant, cucumber, watermelon, pumpkin, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.

Students also have put together exclusive packs of nine hybrid specialty plants, giving gardeners the opportunity to try growing something new.

The Sweet and Spicy pack has San Marino, Celebration and Emerald tomato plants, Crimson Sweet watermelon, California Wonder peppers, cantaloupe and Sweet banana, habanero and chile jalapeno pepper plants.

An exotic pack features Black Krim, Golden Rave and Emerald Evergreen tomatoes, Yellow Dutch cucumber, Casper Eggplant, Dragon Egg cucumber and Thai Super Chili, albino Bullnose and Lilac Bell peppers.

The variety packs are quite popular with customers and usually sell out quickly, Begley said.

Prices range from $1.50 for a three-pack, $5 for the sweet and spicy pack, $8 for hanging baskets and $15 for the exotic pack.

Senior exchange student Rafael Niem of Germany said he was surprised by how many plants they ended up with.

“I didn’t think we would be able to grow enough to fill the greenhouse,” he said.

Lemen said the greenhouse is a project that takes hours of work but is rewarding because of the knowledge gained and the ability to share what they learned with others.

“It’s fun, and I enjoy it, but it’s a big responsibility,” he said.

Sophomore horticulture science student Megan Smith said after working in the greenhouse, she and her classmates know a lot more about plants than they did at the beginning of the class.

“But I wouldn’t call us experts,” she said.

For senior Oakley Turner, being able to work in the greenhouse is the best part of the day, he said.

“It feels good coming out here and seeing how the plants are doing, knowing that we did all this,” he said. “It’s rewarding to be able to grow something and to give back to people in our community.”

Marianne Willacker of Seymour said she has gone to the sale every year since moving to Indiana.

“It’s a great way to support the FFA, and the plants you get from them always produce if you take care of them,” she said.

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What: Plant sale

When: Kicks off from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday; starting Monday, open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays through the end of the school year

Where: Crothersville High School greenhouse on the south side of the school at 109 N. Preston St.

Who: Horticulture and FFA students will sell plants and flowers to the public

Proceeds: To buy supplies for the school’s horticulture program

Information: 812-793-2051 or visit Crothersville High School Greenhouse on Facebook


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