“Everybody went home with something green,” Tancredi said — not just referring to those who bought plants. Money raised by the sale helps support the Willamette Chapter’s educational scholarship fund, which benefits agricultural organizations such as Future Farmers of America, Chemekata Community College, and the chapter’s scholarship through the OAN Foundation.
Tancredi estimated about 20 member growers donated plants. “We got a lot of color this year — azaleas and rhodies in bloom, which always sell well. We also ordered 35 flowering baskets through Chemeketa Community College’s two-year horticultural program,” which trains entry-level nursery workers.
Over the past four years, the Willamette Chapter has donated in excess of $12,000 toward renovation expenses of Chemeketa’s aging greenhouses. Gail Gredler, horticultural instructor at Chemeketa, said the most recent donation of $5,000 will be used this summer for installing an automatic sprinkler system. “Up until now we have been hand-watering the 3,000-square-foot greenhouse and hoop house, which you can imagine is quite a chore,” Gredler said.
|Students from the Future Farmers of America’s Gervais High School Chapter assisted at the Willamette Chapter’s annual Plant Sale.|
Also benefiting from the event were several students from the Future Farmers of America’s (FFA) Gervais High School Chapter, who volunteered their time at the event and got experience in the presentation and sale of plant materials. “It’s great exposure for them to the horticultural industry,” Tancredi said, noting that funds donated to FFA are applied toward the purchase of pruning shears, benches, irrigation systems and other horticultural tools.
The gifts kept on giving, as unsold plant materials — many of the less showy plants, such as arbor vitae, junipers, green shrubs and bushes — were donated to Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore in Portland, which helps build affordable housing in the Portland/Vancouver area.