North Marion High School FFA is enjoying a much smoother operation in preparing its plant starts this year for its annual plant sale.
That is thanks to a new, roomier greenhouse that had been several years in the making. The school's former greenhouse was dismantled in spring 2019 to make way for school-bond construction projects. Fundraising and some help from businesses, FFA supporters and a dose of state Measure 98 funding furnished the new facility.
"We started the plants in the welding shop last year since this wasn't completed yet," said North Marion agriscience teacher and FFA adviser Tricia Stoddard. "Then COVID hit, so we pared down and went online."
The plant sale will be online this year again, save for one day selling hanging baskets and possibly some other starts at the Canby Farmers Market on April 24.
Pandemic closures of a year ago also meant a shortage of labor as students were sent home to study, including the FFA students. This year students will be handling the tasks of caring for the plants.
One of those students, junior Sydney Bircher, was in the greenhouse Tuesday, April 13, giving a drink of water to hanging baskets and veggie starts. She recalled the former greenhouse from her freshman year.
"This is much bigger and nicer and in a lot better condition than the old one," Bircher said. "We have a lot more room now."
Bircher said she hopes to be able to participate in leadership conferences should pandemic-related curtailments abate. The money raised through the plant sale helps fund leadership conferences, conventions and chapter activities throughout the year.
One forthcoming feature in the greenhouse will be a hydroponic system scheduled to be installed in the fall.
"Our goal is to provide the school cafeteria with lettuce, probably green leaf lettuce," Stoddard said.
Currently the plant sale offerings are plentiful: a wide variety of colorful hanging baskets, vegetable starts that include tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and even some popcorn, strawberry plants and a variety of herbs such as cilantro, basil and sage.
North Marion FFA is accepting preorders
3-6 p.m. Friday, April 30
9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, May 1
9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, May 8
North Marion FFA also will have a stand at the Canby Farmers Market on Saturday, April 24.
For information or to shop online, visit https://nmffa.square.site, or visit North Marion FFA on Facebook.
All COVID-19 protocols will be followed.
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