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Last updated on Sunday, April 14, 2013
(SALEM) - Spring is here and the East Washington FFA plant sale is fast approaching.
Kate Wehlann, of the Leader-Democrat reports, members of the FFA will start selling vegetable and flower plants starting on April 16.
Ferns dangle from hanging baskets and the greenhouse is full of geranium, ivy, petunia, marigold and other seedlings arranged in rows on tables.
The horticulture students have been planting the seeds in soil they prepare and are readying themselves for the biggest plant sale of the year for East Washington.
"We're hoping for a good year," said FFA coordinator and teacher, Todd Elgin. "We're looking to make at least $6,000 this year."
Proceeds from the plant sale will help fund Eastern's FFA program and with their pending trip to Oklahoma for the National Soil Judging competition in May. Those funds are needed more so than other years to allow students who have worked hard to win soil judging competitions to make the trip. Elgin said they have received several generous donations from sponsors to help, but need the community support as well.
Elgin grew up as a crop and livestock farmer and now teaches the horticulture class along with other agriculture classes at East Washington. The greenhouse opened about four or five years before he arrived. It existed in another location on the campus, but when the whole agriculture department moved, the greenhouse moved with it.
He said the typical goal is to make between $3,000 and $4,000 profit from the plant sales, but the trip necessitates more funds.
"The fall sales typically break even," he said. "It's the spring sales that we generate most of our income."
The sales go towards the FFA program at the school, paying for entrance fees to competitions, trips and other opportunities and supplies the organization needs. The horticulture class, which grows the plants for the sale, is one of Elgin's most popular courses.
"Horticulture is one of the more popular classes because it's so hands-on," he said. "They're doing what we talk about. They learn the primary nutrients of the plants. We experiment with too much or too little fertilizer. They learn skills that can be incorporated in their own landscapes."
Students in FFA must take an agriculture class.
Junior Courtney Hoke said she was taking the horticulture class primarily for that reason, but she also has another reason.
"My grandma owned a flower shop for a long time," she said. "She kind of sparked my interest in plants and flowers."
Fellow junior Taylor Humphrey said Elgin also makes the class fun.
"I have a green thumb," she said. "Mr. Elgin makes it fun. He gives us tasks we complete ourselves. It's easy and we get college credits for it, so it's a great class to take."
The greenhouse will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturdays starting Tuesday, April 16.
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