The students in the horticulture program at the Huntingdon Adult Education and Community Centre (HAECC) have been very busy lately. The class will be hosting its annual spring plant sale on May 20 and 21, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the greenhouse.
The plant sale debuted all the way back in 2009, and there are now over 7000 plants to choose from.
When asked if there were new plant varieties available this year, Denise Chavez, who heads the horticulture department and teaches within the program, says, “We have tons of new plants. Every year we try and do 20 or 30 new things we haven’t done before.”
The available plants include annuals, perennials, medicinal plants, tropicals, and edibles. They range from herbs such as mint and basil to squash, tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. Thanks to its heated greenhouse, the department is also able to produce more tropical plants including banana trees, grapefruit trees, and much more.
All funds raised will go back into the program to help support the horticulture department while also helping students to complete their production course.
“What is really special about the program is that this is the only English horticulture program available in Quebec. It is a 10-month course that has a graduation and employment rate of over 90 per cent, which means that students who complete the program find tons of work in this trade, and they take many skills home with them,” says Chavez.
Plants that remain after the sale are donated to places such as primary schools, hospitals, seniors’ residences, and to local farmers. Chavez shares that during the pandemic, plants were gifted to nurses to thank them for their dedication and hard work. She explains that caring for plants is good for mental health and can help to lower stress levels.
Megan Martin, the assistant centre director at HAECC, says that she is very supportive of the program. “It is such a major part of our centre. It spreads so much joy throughout, and we would like to share that joy. After all, the ‘C’ in HAECC stands for ‘Community.’ It is an intricate part of our philosophy.”