Flowers blossom as students grow

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 11, 2006

By Adam Hammer, staff


ALDEN &045; During the final semester at Alden-Conger school, students in Pam Koenen’s horticulture class have been watering, fertilizing and nurturing young plants.

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With their roots strong, their flowers blossoming and their leaves green, the plants are ready to move out of the small greenhouse at the back of the school to the gardens and flowerbeds throughout the community.

&8220;This is a huge benefit for students to have for experience working in the real world,&8221; Koenen said. &8220;It’s pretty much a mini model of what a real greenhouse would be.&8221;

The greenhouse at Alden-Conger was built in 2000 largely by grant dollars available for agriculture education improvement.

The first plants that blossomed in the greenhouse were in hanging baskets in 2001.

Since then, the classes have expanded what they grow to include geraniums, tomatoes and seed plants.

&8220;The students like it because they’re not in the classroom all the time,&8221; Koenen said.

Some of the plants, such as geraniums, have to be planted in February to allow for a 14 to 16 week crop time. Tomatoes were planted this year in the greenhouse about a month ago, which is enough time for the plants to grow before being moved to a garden.

&8220;It’s just kind of the basics,&8221; Koenen said.

All of the students in the class help care for the plants.

&8220;They all know what’s going on out here,&8221; Koenen said.

The plants are being sold throughout May until they are all gone. A variety of flowering annuals, herbs, tomato plants and hanging baskets are available.

Proceeds from the sales will pay for next years supplies.

The greenhouse is opens at 9 a.m. Monday through Friday. Most Thursdays and Fridays, it will be open until 6 p.m.

Besides being used by Koenen’s horticulture class, the greenhouse is a resource for some junior high and elementary classes.

The greenhouse will be visited this week by elementary students as part of the reading rewards program. Students will be able to plant a flower and bring it home as a Mother’s Day gift.

&8220;We try to use it as much as we can for a variety of things,&8221; Koenen said.

Class sizes in Koenen’s horticulture classes vary from year to year, she said. This year there are nine in the class, last year there were 18.

&8220;It’s not uncommon to have a big class one year and a small class the next,&8221; she said.

Regardless of class size, growing plants in the greenhouse seems to be a joyful experience for the students.