It’s just about that time to get down in the dirt and prepare your gardens as the warm season is creeping up on us.

Teens and Greens at the Franklin County Career and Technology Center is officially open for business.

The Teens and Greens greenhouse program began around 2002 as a way to teach horticulture students how gardening works while providing the community with beautiful flowers, vegetables and herbs.

The greenhouse is open for two seasons out of the year.

From November to December, they sell holiday items such as poinsettias. The shop opens back up in mid-April, depending on when Easter lands and how the weather permits. This season lasts until the end of the school year.

Available to customers are a variety of vegetables, including tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, squash and eggplants, and many different herbs including basil, sage, cilantro and rosemary.

They also sell a nice variety of seasonal flowers, hanging baskets, perennials and annuals.

For the spring season, students begin to transplant seeds in mid-February, around Valentine’s Day.

During school hours, two or three students help out in the greenhouse, and also volunteer on the weekends, always with an adult supervisor present.

Students Dakota Arana and Wyatt Graham shared their thoughts about being involved with the beauty of gardening.

“I really like working with the flowers,” said Dakota, of Shippensburg. “There’s a lot of different types that I like. I’m really glad I got involved in this. It’s fun. We’ve learned about organization and working with people and working together. The teachers are great and Mr. Perry is an amazing guy.”

“As much as I love plants, it’s neat to take care of them and to watch them thrive and grow,” Wyatt noted. “When we plant them as seedlings, it’s interesting to see what they turn out as. A lot of kids these days don’t really know much about how to take care of plants and what plants can do for our lives. So, getting involved with horticulture, you can learn what they do and how important it is to take care of them. It’s a really calming experience and it’s warm, too. When it’s really cold outside, it’s nice to come in here because of the heat for the plants. It’s also really nice being around the smells of the herbs and perennials.”

With their joy and knowledge of gardening, both Dakota and Wyatt plan on expanding it into their careers.

Dakota said he would like to work in a greenhouse in the future.

Wyatt said, “I really would like to work with more greenhouses, and not just annually, but greenhouses that are open all year round. I’d just like to do any stuff that works with plants.”

Mr. Dave Perry is the horticulture and landscaping instructor at Franklin County Career and Technology Center. 

Perry explained what the program provides for students to take with them in their future careers.

“Students will get basic knowledge on how soils and fertilizers work and how they affect plants,” he said. “They work on how the seed plants germinate and grow, and go through that process. We talk about the greenhouse structures themselves. They get educated on all the different parts and components to a greenhouse. It gets into a little bit of botany because of the understanding of the make-up of plants, how they work, how they grow, what causes them to flower earlier than other plants and they learn about the light requirements. With the greenhouse aspect of it, it enters into the whole world of customer service. So, not only have they been transplanting, growing, watering, fertilizing and caring for them, but they will get to market it and display it. They will also be helping run the cash register and counting change, and feeling out the questions of the customers. It takes it through the whole process from seeding, out the door and into the customers’ hands.

Last year, the shop took COVID-19 guidelines seriously and created an online ordering option for customers, and volunteers would set orders outside to be ready for pickup.

“We were open last year, but myself and some volunteers from school kept the program going,” Perry said. “We set it up as online where there was a listing of plants and people would email us, and we would pull the orders and set them up outside, so it was contactless. This year, we’re still following COVID guidelines where everyone will be masked coming in and out of the building because the students will be involved with the business this year. With the ease of the restrictions, there’s still the use of masks, but no one will be around any specific customer for any length of time. They are going to be the ones coming in, setting the plants up, doing the watering and things of that nature.”

Perry noted there will not be the option to order online this year, but he plans for a smooth season.

“I anticipate it will go fine,” he said. “We’ve had a good outpouring reach from the community and we continue to increase our volumes. I would say some volumes may be down somewhat this year just because of the unease of the COVID situation. There’s still a great selection of plant material available between now and the end of the school year. The market is really strong right now. I’ve been having phone calls since about the end of March about when we’ll be opening up, and that is too early to plant. I know everyone tries to be the first one to have their vegetable garden planted and you just have to be careful of frost.” 

Teens and Greens is located at 3015 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg.

Their hours are:

-- Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

-- Thursday and Friday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

-- Saturday: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

-- Sunday: Closed

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