By Juan Ibarra/campus editor
Tomatoes, herbs and a variety of flowers were on display for students and community members to purchase on NW Campus. The NW horticulture program hosted their annual plant sale on April 5 and 6.
The capstone class for the horticulture department took part in helping tend to onlookers hoping to purchase any plants during the sale. Passing out pamphlets, helping to write up receipts and giving any extra information over the different types of plants and what they need to survive were just a few ways the students helped out.
“Our capstone class is the herbaceous plants class, and it is primarily responsible for growing all the plants and producing the logistics of the plant sale, [such as] helping out and setting it up,” program coordinator David Bulpitt said.
NW student Christine Brace, who is in the capstone class, was helping out during the sale. She has had experience with the program and three years working with horticulture overall.
“When I was young, I used to garden with my great grandpa and I guess it just stuck with me,” Brace said. “It was always fun getting some sun, growing your own food and seeing something grow to life.”
This year’s plant sale is the fourth time the sale has been held, however the last three years have been a stark difference in weather. Wind, rain and cold have hurt the plant sale in previous years. Luckily, the sun shined down upon the horticulture program this year. Literally.
“We were spending so much energy battening down the hatches to keep stuff from blowing away that it was a pleasure today not having that wind,” Bulpitt said.
That good weather helped drive an increasingly constant crowd of interested customers. This helped increase the funds for the horticulture program, which in turn fund the program’s field trip budget itself. Most recently the program took 10 students up to Colorado for the National Collegiate Landscape Competition where they faced 844 students from different colleges.
“We got a bigger taste of what is going on, and we competed against many of the other four-year schools as well as many two-year schools,” Bulpitt said. “Six of our 10 students finished in the upper half of all students.”
Previously, TCC has only taken a small amount and unofficially been in attendance of the competition. However, 2019 was the first year there was official representation for the college. One of TCC’s students, Stephanie Schmitz, finished eighth out of 64 in the Irrigation Design competition.
“It was a two-hour test on hydraulics,” Schmitz said. “It’s questions about irrigation components, sizing irrigation systems, and precipitation rates. A lot of math.”
Schmitz used to have a job as a hairdresser as well as an insurance agent, so horticulture was never her original goal. She does believe that the industry blends enough variety together and many people should look at it as more than just a hobby.
“Horticulture is suitable for a lot of people, and they don’t think about it,” Schmitz said. “It blends art, it blends science, math and physical labor. There are so many different facets that go into horticulture and make it really alluring.”
The horticulture industry has seen a high level of growth and demand, Bulpitt said.
There will be a summit during the Summer outside of Philadelphia where the horticulture department heads from different colleges will brainstorm new ways to recruit students.
“There is a tremendous demand for horticulture graduates,” Bulpitt said. “There is a tremendous shortage of trained, college-level graduates and our industry is trying to do anything to try to get more students interested in doing horticulture programs.”
Bulpitt had a conversation with the department head of the winning college at the competition, Brigham Young University. They said the number one destination for graduates from Brigham Young is DFW.
“If you like plants, well horticulture is good way to make a living,” Bulpitt said.