Northern high horticultural students have won three first place awards at the Pennsylvania Farm Show, in Harrisburg, earlier this week.
Carol Richwine, who teaches Horticulture I & II at the high school, said that 11 students from the Horticulture II class began planning and working in October to come up with ideas, gather plants and materials to create their entry for the “Edible Landscaping” competition. The students began building the installation over the Christmas holiday break and completed the display on January 4.
A total of 11 school districts competed in the category. The display, which is located directly in front of the demonstration stage, won Best Overall Desing, placed first for Best Live Plant Material, Best Non-Living Material. Students also placed first in the Landscape competition.
“Students decided that it was more important to show Farm Show visitors and spectators something practical they could use at home, instead of working to win,” Richwine said. “The students pooled their individual design ideas in class and took a look at already existing resources to come up with the design.”
Richwine said the majority of the plants used in the display were grown in the school courtyard, as part of the Farm to School Initiative, and harvested at the end of October to save for use in the display. The display uses curly kale, blueberries, huckleberries, strawberries and Swiss chard from the courtyard. Students also grew carrots, spinach and basil in the school greenhouse.
“About two weeks ago,they pulled blooming spring shrubs into the greenhouse to force flowering out-of-season,” Richwine said. “Bailey Hentz and John Seifert of Mr. Carey’s drafting class transformed a horticulture student's rendering into auto-cad for a framed landscape print, while Mr. Mauck's wood shop students helped to finish an arbor. A pear tree, few shrubs, and pansies were purchased for planting later on school grounds. R & S Fencing, Dillsburg, generously donated fencing to the chapter for use in future landscape shows,and Creative Exteriors donated the use of pavers.”
The Farm to School Initiative teaches students how to grow edible foods – fruits and vegetables, on school grounds. Produce and fruits grown by students have been used for meals in the high school cafeteria, Richwine said.
Northern drafting students transformed the horticulture students’ rendering into an autocad framed landscape print, while wood shop students constructed an arbor as the display’s centerpiece. As a result of their winning design, the display qualifies for the Big E Competition, held in Springfield, Mass., in September. The landscape entries will be on display at the Farm Show through January 12.
Horticulture I students learn the basics – what plants are, how they are name, taxonomy physiology, greenhouse management and basic landscaping, Richwine said. Horticulture II students can earn both high school and college credits. The course is aligned with the Harrisburg Area Community College curriculum.
“We work with the FFA and this display is a combination of the efforts of FFA members and non-members in horticulture and plant science,” Richwine said. “In horticulture, in the greenhouse we do all sorts of things, such as propagation, addressing basic plant needs, soil science and integrated pest management; we grow our own fruits and vegetables; and, we have a big bedding plants sale in the spring. We grew poinsettias at Christmas time.”
Richwine said Esbenshades Garden Center and Greenhouses, in Lititz, provided the poinsettia root cuttings. Students learned about phototheria, plants response to grooming and pinching to control plant height, and hormonal control.
In the fall and spring, Mark McCullough, teaches landscaping courses. Students work on maintaining the grounds and learn about maintaining healthy shrubs. McCullough also teaches introduction to agriculture and environmental science.