DeKALB – For months, DeKalb High School students have been getting down to the nitty gritty of the horticulture business in Joe Neville’s class.
In one part of the greenhouse on the north side of DHS, sophomore Broderick Seldal was working with other students to mix together dirt, wood chips and volcanic rock to make potting soil.
“Most of my friends took it before,” Seldal said when asked why he was taking the class. “They learned a lot.”
The flowers and plants Seldal and other students have planted will be available for sale Wednesday and Thursday at the high school. Sarah Peterson, an agriculture instructor and FFA advisor at DHS, said all of the proceeds will go toward making the horticulture program self-sufficient.
Smaller plants will be priced between 50 cents and $1, Peterson said. Vegetable plants the students have grown in class will be priced between $2 and $3. Larger plants will be priced at $4.
“It’s a way for the students to see every aspect of the horticulture program,” Peterson said, with students studying everything from the science to the business end of horticulture.
But the projects the students have undertaken go beyond simple potted plants. Seldal was one of the students who helped Neville build a pond with a working water system in the back of the greenhouse.
“It’s something I can say that I did,” Seldal said.
Sophomore Cole Banta and other students built a hydroponics system to grow tomatoes, squash and cucumbers. They also made their own nutrient mix for the system. The tomatoes grew faster and larger than Banta expected.
“It shades out everything,” Banta said.
Although he’s still working on it, Neville said his students will probably have to choose and study a type of nontraditional plant growth system for the final exam. Some of the students have already shown that skill. The greenhouse features a hydroponics system, drip irrigation system and gravity flooding system some of the students have built.
Even if they don’t end up in a horticulture career, Peterson hopes the students walk away with an appreciation for the food they see in the supermarket.
“It’s really great for these kids to see where their food comes from and how it’s grown,” Peterson said.