Spring is in the air and plants are blooming inside the North Mecklenburg High School greenhouses. More than 200 North Mecklenburg students have been preparing all year for the spring plant sale, which will be April 17 from 8 a.m. until noon at the school.
Approximately 15 years ago, program instructor Christy Thornton sent then-principal Jimmy Poole an occasional perennial, annual and poinsettia in hopes of encouraging him to allow her to restart the horticulture department, which had been closed for more than 10 years. Thornton was given the green light, and the program has thrived.
The program has three student-built shade houses and two greenhouses, one donated by Metrolina Greenhouses. Students hold a spring plant sale and fall poinsettia sale to raise funds for the program and student activities. Horticulture instructors Thornton and Stephanie Anderson are proud the department is self-supporting.
Anderson joined the program six years ago and plans to continue to nurture its growth after Thornton retires next year. Anderson anticipates a smooth transition and knows the students will continue to produce quality plants.
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Anderson said Thornton will be missed, but she knows the program will continue to do well. "I hope that, in the future, the community will continue to show us their support, because I know that the student's dedication to this program will continue for many years to come," Anderson said.
Students participating in the horticulture program plant seeds in the fall and, while nurturing the plants, attend classroom lessons and learn greenhouse techniques. The program is a well-rounded agricultural experience offering a wide range of hands-on experiences.
As the spring plant sale approaches, the students' hard work becomes evident: They have grown more than 82 types of annuals, including geraniums, impatiens and petunias, along with 40 perennials, grasses, ferns, hanging baskets and mixed pots.
The students offer herbs for cooking and 11 types of tomato plants, including organic Cherokee purple tomatoes this year. Other fruits and vegetables include cantaloupe, cucumbers, peppers, squash and strawberries.