By MATT CRANE
The Mississippi State University Horticulture Club is doing its part to beautify the Starkville community with new plants for the fall season.
The club held a fall plant sale Friday featuring mums, pumpkins, pansies, kale, swiss chard and satsuma trees.
Club President Marianne Spitchley said the club's main objective is to start plants mostly from seeds and raise them in the greenhouses on campus, providing a wonderful hands-on educational experience.
"Our plant sales help so much because the money we raise allows us to go on trips and attend conferences around the country," she said. "This year we'll be going to a conference in Miami to further our education."
Spitchley said the selection featured at the plant sale is perfect for the fall season.
"They are fall plants, meaning they can withstand the upcoming temperature changes, and they are perfect for bedding plants or container gardening," she said. "The mums we are selling are always remind me of the opening of the fall season."
Spitchley said the sales, including the upcoming Christmas sale, allow the horticulture students to keep growing plants and learn about the industry of greenhouse crops.
"This year we are going to donate a bunch of poinsettias for the Christmas sale, and whatever is left over will be taken to elderly patients in nursing homes around Starkville," she said. "We're also planning to teach elementary school students by bringing potting soil and actually letting them pot a plant so they can keep them and watch them grow. We're hoping to teach them how the process works."
Greenhouse manager Jacob Higdon said while his job is a full-time commitment, he is grateful for the wonderful learning experience he is receiving, and said selling the plants he helped raise can be a bittersweet experience.
"I'm thankful for the opportunity to be in a position to help out our club in any way," he said. "It's sad to see the plants go, but a wonderful thing to see them grow."
Richard Harkess, faculty advisor for the Horticulture Club, said he is proud of the active club and emphasized the importance of the seasonal sales to each student's education.
"The students benefit by practicing what they learn in class because they are growing most of the plant material themselves," he said. "The sales also serve as an important outreach because we have a fairly significant following, and it's good for the students to interact with the community as well as getting the community out to interact with the campus and our students."
The MSU Horticulture Club's next sale will Friday, Nov. 30 featuring poinsettias for the holiday season.
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