Finding their green thumbs
Christiana students gain experience through plant sale
Before she took a plant science class, Anaiyah Huggins couldn’t picture herself working in the garden.
“I thought planting was nasty,” the Christiana High School sophomore said.
However, teacher Katie Phillips made her roll up her sleeves and get her hands dirty. As she and her classmates helped prepare for the school’s annual plant sale, Huggins learned to embrace her green thumb.
“It’s fun,” she said Saturday as she worked in the greenhouse during the plant sale.
Huggins’ experience is common for the approximately 90 students in Christiana’s three plant science classes, said Phillips, who is in her second year running the program.
“These are not your typical farm kids,” she said. “They are from the inner-city and suburbs. They come to me having never touched a plant or dirt.”
She said she tries to emphasize the importance plants play in the students’ lives.
“You breathe, wear clothes and eat,” she said. “Plants do all that for you.”
The students began work for the plant sale in January, when they got the plants as tiny “plugs” and planted them in pots and hanging baskets.
“We planted for like two
months, every day,” Phillips said, noting the 18,000 flower and vegetable plants filled all three of the school’s greenhouses.
During the three-day plant sale, the students did the marketing, assisted customers and rang up orders.
“They have to learn to work together to make it run smoothly,” Phillips said, noting the proceeds from the sale go into a fund that helps pay for a field trip to Longwood Gardens, among other things.
Leftover plants are used to landscape school grounds and form a community vegetable garden, the crop from which is donated to Little Sisters of the Poor.
Sophomore Jackie Longoria said she had never worked with plants before she got involved with the sale last year.
“I enjoy planting and helping customers,” she said. “I’m going to be here every year.”
Tyreese Grant, also a sophomore, said the plant sale taught him teamwork.
“We work together, and it’s for a good cause,” he said.
While new to Christiana, Freshman Lorena Longoria did have experience in agriculture science in middle school. On Saturday, she was having fun working the plant sale.
“I guess I just like plants,” she said, adding, “You have to work really hard.”
Senior Robin Baker, president of Christiana’s chapter of Future Farmers of America, plans to pursue a degree in agriculture education at Delaware Valley College. As a 4-H participant, Baker is no stranger to gardening but said the plant sale helped teach her “a lot of patience talking to customers and making sure they’re happy.”
“I just like being outside working with plants and livestock,” she said.
She said she is glad Christiana offers agriculture classes in addition to the more traditional subjects.
“I came to high school ready for ag,” she said.
Freshman Aliyanna Robinson also wants to go into agriculture education.
She noted that she and some of her classmates took turns coming in to school over the weekend to water the plants, but in the end it was all worth it, “seeing all your hard work and seeing all the pretty flowers that end up.”
Sophomore Tyreese Grant works in the Christiana High School greenhouse during Saturday’s plant sale.
Sophomore Jackie Longoria works in the Christiana High School greenhouse during Saturday’s plant sale.