Greenhouse at Ben Steele Middle School holds inaugural plant sale

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photo courtesy of John Urbaska

When middle school teacher, John Urbaska, accepted the Tech Ed and Engineering program position at Ben Steele Middle School, it was a no-brainer that he would seek to bring components of the successful World of Works greenhouse program that he and Kris Cummings had built at Will James Middle School to the new halls (and grounds) of Ben Steele Middle School. Fortunately, shares Urbaska, Superintendent Terry Bouck and Lew Anderson agreed, which allowed them to move forward with purchasing a state of the art 30’ by 60’ greenhouse. Urbaska notes that getting this program up and running has been a monumental feat for the new school, yet the hard work of many has made it seem like this school has been operational for years.

Bringing the greenhouse program to Ben Steele Middle School was vital to Urbaska because “Not only does it provide an amazing opportunity to kids- learning horticulture; including germination, propagation and sales, it is crucial in maintaining our program as a self-sustaining entity, and allowing us to purchase the equipment, software and materials necessary to maintain the high standards we’ve always set with our tech ed and engineering program.”

Getting the greenhouse up and running

photo courtesy of John Urbaska

It all began in August 2017 when Urbaska spent that month constructing the greenhouse with a small crew. By September, things were in place to begin growing poinsettias for the holidays. With record poinsettia sales in 2017 they are anticipating an amazing Spring Sale on May 19. “The kids,” says Urbaska, “have worked their tails off and are so excited to be part of something so educational and rewarding.”

Working in the greenhouse – one facet of the “many cool things taking place” – is typically limited to 8th grade students, this year, however, there have been some “amazing 7th grade students also taking part,” explains Urbaska. The students begin with cuttings, seeds and plugs in January, and maintain their growth through May. Students are responsible for watering, insect control, fertilization, pot and basket creations, etc…

The 2018 Plant Sale

Students will be running the show at the sale. You can expect knowledgeable helpers who will be able to give you information about the varieties and help you haul out the beautiful plants you’ve purchased.

You will be able to choose from 300 hanging baskets, more than 50 varieties of annual bedding plants and flowers, tomatoes, hot peppers, and more than 100 prearranged potted planters. There are also fresh herb window boxes, perennial grasses and hydrangeas. You’ll also want to consider the student-made projects, which include barnwood coolers and handmade planter boxes.

Ben Steele Middle School Plant Sale
Saturday, May 19 @ 8am-4pm
(Flowers may be purchased throughout the following week during school hours)

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