After laboring all winter to plant seeds, persuade them to sprout, and then nurture them into lush green plants, Carley Hodges could only look around the Eastside Technical Center greenhouse last week and marvel.
"It was a lot of work and it was stressful at times," said Hodges, 17, a senior. "But now it really is amazing to look around at these plants and think that we actually grew all of them."
Hodges and fellow agriculture students at Eastside did grow all of them. And now they're offering them to the public at the school's annual spring plant sale, which begins Monday.
Todd Harp, who teaches agriculture at Eastside, says that 12,000 to 15,000 plants — two greenhouses full — will be available. They include hanging baskets of Boston ferns and black-eyed Susans; packs of impatiens, begonias, and marigolds; pots of zinnias, geraniums and verbena; and packs of tomatoes, bell peppers, cabbage and other vegetables. And that's only a sampling.
Prices range from $12 for hanging baskets to $2 and $3 for packs and pots.
In addition to the plants, Eastside will be selling baby Koi fish, colorful additions for any back-yard pond, which the students raised from fry donated by Kentucky State University.
Proceeds will go to the FFA chapter at Eastside.
The plant sale has been a fund-raiser for the FFA chapter for about 20 years, according to Harp. In addition to raising money, it gives Eastside students a chance to practice what they've learned.
For example, John Cockriel, 17, a junior, was the student greenhouse manager this year, responsible for keeping all the plants watered, fed and trimmed.
Senior Courtney Demoss, another student who worked on the project, said that growing all the plants was fun, even though gardening really is not her thing.
Harp says that if this spring's sale goes well, it could raise $4,000 to $5,000.
And the sale could be even bigger next year, when the agriculture program moves from Eastside to Fayette County Public Schools' new 80-acre Locust Trace Agri-Science Center on Newtown Pike. Scheduled to open in August, the center will be a real working farm where students can get hands-on experience in many aspects of agriculture.
Cockriel will be attending Locust Trace next year and says he can hardly wait. He plans to study agriculture in college and wants to teach at Locust Trace someday.
"I think it's going to be a fantastic place," he said. "I drive past sometimes, just to look at it."
Now, though, he and his fellow agriculture students are hoping that all the green they've raised during the winter will produce some long green for their FFA program.