Local schools open greenhouse sales to public

Cecilia Bowman has developed a growing interest in working in a greenhouse someday.

Selling plants and flowers and sharing her knowledge about them intrigues her, as does the social aspect of it.

Being a part of the horticulture class at Seymour High School that’s offering greenhouse sales to the public is a good start.

“I had thought about it awhile, and that’s why I took this class, but this class made it more real to me and made me want to do it more,” the senior said.

The greenhouse on the west side of the school will be open from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, giving Bowman and her classmates a chance to interact with people and show off all of the work they have put in this year.

Seymour is among five Jackson County high schools selling vegetable plants, flowers and more to the public.

SHS has 20 types of vegetable plants, five types of grasses and succulents/cacti and more than 30 kinds of flowers (perennials and annuals).

Bowman said her favorite part is starting with seeds and watching them sprout and grow.

“I remember planting the cherry tomatoes and stuff like that and it was literally just a seed. Now, they are little baby plants and tomatoes,” she said. “I knew the basics of (planting), like you put the seed in the ground, but we learned how to take care of them and how much light they need and what temperature they need to be at.”

Bowman’s hope is to turn what she knows into a career and/or a hobby.

“You can start your own at-home garden with stuff like that, information like that,” she said. “You can learn how to take care of them on your own. It’s pretty nice.”

Brownstown Central High School was the first in the county to start its greenhouse sales. That began last week, and the public can stop by the school between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays to browse the selection.

The annual bedding flowers and vegetable plants have been maintained by students in Blake Hackman’s horticulture class.

Sophomore Lane Zike said since the class started at the beginning of the third trimester in February, they had to clean up the greenhouse and organize the pots while waiting for the plants to arrive. Then they took what they learned in class and applied it to caring for the plants and flowers.

“It’s amazing how far it has come,” he said.

“It’s pretty cool to see everybody work together on it,” junior Jo Brittain added. “It’s something I’ve never done, so it’s pretty cool.”

Sophomore Ethan Willey said the class accomplished a lot to get to the point of selling to the public.

“We can give them advice on certain plants, what are good ones to pick out, stuff like that,” he said.

Crothersville High School’s greenhouse will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

Horticulture science students have worked hard to ensure a wide variety of flowering annuals and vegetables. There will be hanging baskets, too, just in time for Mother’s Day.

The students have an added benefit by taking the yearlong class because they earn dual credits from Ivy Tech Community College.

“Their curriculum is aggressive enough for a college class,” teacher Linda Myers said.

While work started in the greenhouse before spring break, the students spent the rest of the school year learning in the classroom.

“We didn’t really even know how to handle plants or anything, so we had to learn from the ground up how to handle plants, how to make sure they’re staying alive once we transplant them,” sophomore Corey Engleking said.

Freshman Blake Robinson said it helped taking a similar class last year.

“Last year, I came out and I got soil ready, I watered the plants and we know when to water, how to tell if there’s something wrong with the plant,” he said.

This year’s class is more in-depth, he said. Each student was given a job, including foreman, assistant foreman, maintenance, safety specialist, seed specialist, house plant specialist or worker.

“I told them this is a business,” Myers said. “When you come through that door, it’s a business, and they have really stepped up to the plate. They seriously focus on their job. … It might not have been that way the first of March, but it is now. I trust them. I don’t have to worry about them messing around out here. They have a job to do. They are going to get it done. These are the people you want working for you.”

Sophomore Emma Wicker is the foreman.

“It’s very stressful, and it gets really, really hot in here, so that makes it even more stressful,” she said, smiling. “It’s one of the most stressful things I’ve ever done, but everyone is actually a lot of help. I don’t really have to do very much. I have to show them what to do and all that, but after I show them, they do what they have to do. It took a minute for everybody to warm up, but they are working together pretty well now.”

After spending a lot of time taking care of everything in the greenhouse, the students agree it’s nice to look around and see it all thriving.

“When you first plant, it’s like nothing is growing and it’s like it’s doing nothing, and then you come back and everything is all tall. It’s very cool,” freshman Reegon Gumm said.

“Before this year, I really had no idea how to do most of this stuff besides just simply watering a plant. It’s pretty self-explanatory,” sophomore Waylon Baker said. “But it’s nice, pretty organized and everything.”

Trinity Lutheran High School also will have its greenhouse open Saturday. Hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Junior Logan Brown is in his third year of working with the greenhouse. He said the most popular requests are potted plants and hanging baskets, and they have more of the latter this year. There also are tomato and pepper plants.

“It’s pretty cool to watch them go from when you get them, they are in trays about quarter size and then they come to trays that are 2-inch-by-2-inch, and you’ve got some of the big pots that are pretty big and they just keep getting bigger,” he said.

Since he lives on a farm, Brown said working in the greenhouse suits him.

“I farm, so I enjoy doing all of this in general,” he said. “Then I like reaching out to the public and trying to get other kids that like doing this to come to Trinity and get in an ag class and they can do this. Some people come in and don’t know how to plant, which they grew up different, that’s just how it is. Then you learn how to do it, and then eventually, you get the hang of it and it gets a lot easier.”

Students can go from working in a school greenhouse to having their own garden at home or making a career out of it.

“Some people don’t know how to do it, and then once they do, they could have their own flowers when they are married and have kids at their house,” Brown said.

Medora High School will have its greenhouse sale from 8 a.m. to noon May 14.

Ag teacher Adam Conklin said when he started at the school last spring, they had the sale shortly after.

“The first day I was here, we were planting for the sale, and we had a huge success, a lot of turnout,” he said. “I think it’ll be similar this year.”

Tomatoes, peppers, marigolds, zinnias and sunflowers will be available for purchase. Conklin said sophomores in his plant and soil science class did a lot of the heavy lifting on the greenhouse.

“This is their second year. They’ve got a good handle on it,” he said. “These were a lot of my soils judgers, and they did an outstanding job. Some of them went to the Envirothon contest and did really well there, too, so they are getting to where I don’t have to micromanage everything. They did, I’d say, 90% of the planting, they fertilized (the last two weeks).”

Sophomore Jordan Starr said he likes the hands-on work.

“I like it a lot better than sitting in a classroom. A lot of us do,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot of what goes into planting. … It’s fun to be here. I enjoy it. I enjoy seeing the progress that we’ve made. It’s something to learn that you could use yourself or even use professionally.”

At a glance 

Greenhouse sales at Jackson County high schools 

Brownstown Central: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays

Crothersville: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday

Medora: 8 a.m. to noon May 14

Seymour: 4 to 6 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday

Trinity Lutheran: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday