Despite COVID restrictions, the spring plant sale has continued to be a big success in recent years. With a greenhouse full of many different flowers and vegetables, it can be hard to keep up with growing and maintaining them. Mrs. Brunton’s Greenhouse Management class works in the greenhouse almost every day of the semester after the first plants arrive to ensure they will continue their success with the plant sale. The plant sale is the largest fundraiser for the FFA, but it’s not only about raising money. It also teaches the importance of business: customer service, marketing, product analysis, and product selection. 

Mrs. Brunton organizes the ordering of plants for fifteen schools, including Potosi. “I am a bit of a control freak, and the first year I was here our order got messed up when another teacher did the ordering. So when that teacher left, I offered to take over the ordering process,” said Brunton. By ordering these plants in bulk with the other schools, we save a lot of money that we can put towards more plants. The students are responsible for separating the tags and plants in order for each school to pick them up. Anybody can take Greenhouse Management, but you are recommended to take Plant Science first to learn about the plants that are grown and how to care for them.

The first plants arrived on February 1st, which is the smallest shipment that they receive. These plants are the ones that are slow growers and need longer to get to the size they can be sold at. Students work to transplant those plants into bigger pots over the next couple of days, while also making sure the plants ordered by other schools stay alive. Once the plants are transplanted, the students must water them and pick off dead flowers and leaves continuously to help them grow. 

The second shipment of plants will arrive on March 8th. This order will be about double the size and amount of plants as the first order was. With so many schools involved in the ordering process, it made sense to split the large second order in half based on the growing times needed for the plants. Once it arrives, the plants will be separated by each of the fifteen schools that ordered with us. The Greenhouse Management class must then keep all of the plants alive until each school can pick them up. They are also responsible for transplanting our plants into the correct pots, and they will start planting hanging baskets. Once everything is planted into the correct pot or basket, the class is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the plants until the sale in May. 

The third shipment of plants will arrive on March 22nd. Mrs. Brunton will be gone that week, so her student teacher, Mr. Hilby, and I, her tutor will be in charge of separating the plants by school, and assisting the students in transplanting our plants. “I feel comfortable leaving them with sorting the shipment because it is a smaller shipment, and both will have experience sorting things from the first two shipments,” said Brunton. In years past, they have never done a third shipment of plants, but it should work out better for growing them and for the organization in the greenhouse. 

Mrs. Brunton tries to change the color combinations of the hanging baskets so there is a different variety each year. This year’s options have some of the most variations we have ever had in our sale, such as new colors and full petunia baskets. “I am going to do both an online and an in-person sale; that way people that can’t make it the day of the sale will still be able to get the plants they want,” said Brunton. We started to offer a credit card checkout during the sale last year, which went very smoothly. We have had great success using an online sale format during COVID, and doing the sale in-person, so it will be interesting to see how a combination of both turns out. 

The sale will take place on Saturday, May 6th. More information on the sale will be available soon on the Potosi FFA’s Facebook page.