12/15/11 — Schools' poinsettia production down

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Schools' poinsettia production down

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on December 15, 2011 1:46 PM

For years, greenhouses at area high schools have been a popular place to buy poinsettias at Christmas time.

Not this year.

Eastern Wayne High School is already sold out of the limited supply they had available and other high schools simply didn't produce as many as in years past, officials said.

Horticulture programs have been developed at five area high schools over the years, allowing students to conduct fall and spring plant sales, as well as a thriving poinsettia business in December.

The programs have been successful, not only in introducing students to the agricultural aspect but in enlisting support from the community.

Southern Wayne has had a greenhouse since February 1996. Only Eastern Wayne had a larger one and offered a greater quantity of plants for sale each year. One year, three classes at Eastern Wayne produced 1,900 poinsettia plants for sale.

Rosewood introduced its greenhouse more than 10 years ago, and Spring Creek and Charles B. Aycock have also added programs.

Growing poinsettias is a very involved process, though, and students often had to begin working on the projects as soon as the school year began. That particular plant can also be expensive to produce.

"There's a low return on the investment," said Erlene Brogden, lead teacher for the Wayne County Public Schools work-based learning program. "They're very, very costly to grow, branches break very easily."

Budgets for the local programs have remained the same, but individual schools have had to decide which plants to sell and over time elected to produce less costly items.

"Eastern Wayne was the only one that did the poinsettia sale this year," she said.

Fall and spring plant sales will continue, she noted.

And when that time arrives, officials hope the community will again turn out and purchase the student-produced products.

"We, the schools, the agriculture programs, we appreciate the public's support," said Mrs. Brogden. "It just helps the program."