The horticulture club’s plant sale has been an ABAC tradition for many years. It started 43 years ago in 1978; Dr. James Brightwell, the world-famous blueberry breeder, was the mastermind behind the event.
The plant sale started shortly after the horticulture program began at ABAC in 1977. The first sale was held in a temporarily covered quonset hut structure. However, it was eventually moved to the ABAC farm, where it continues to be held today. With the help of his students, Dr. Brightwell used discarded dining hall trays with holes cut out for draining, growing, and transporting the plants.
Since then the horticulture club’s plant sale has grown substantially. In 2019, a new greenhouse was built which made growing the plants easier. The plants are grown by ABAC students from multiple organizations. Horticulture club members, Collegiate Future Farmers of America, and students from the Nursery and Greenhouse Management class make the event possible.
The plant sale has to be planned well in advance. “Preparing for the plant sale takes about a year.” Said Morgan Fritze, President of the horticulture club. Ordering the seeds alone must take place at least six months in advance. During each horticulture club meeting, the members do something hands-on to prepare for the sale.
The nursery and greenhouse management class is responsible for planting ferns in the fall as well as the sowing of seeds and transplanting of all the seedlings. Preparing for the event also gives them the opportunity to learn how to control pests, weeds, and how to maintain the temperature in the greenhouse. The proceeds from the plant sale make it possible for the horticulture club to have funding for their meetings, future plant sales and to allow them to travel and learn more about the horticulture industry. Usually, the club takes a fall and spring tour to learn more about the industry, however, due to COVID-19 travel restrictions they were unable to this year.
Those that are interested in joining the horticulture club and preparing for more plant sales should attend their meetings every other Thursday at 5:30pm.