Saddleback College virtual plant sale grows scholarships for students

An assortment of plants inside the greenhouse. Tina Maldini/Courtesy 

The horticulture and landscape design department host their first virtual plant sale this semester, which begins on Nov. 23 at 9 a.m. and ends on Nov. 30 at noon. The event is a fundraiser for student scholarships awarded at the end of the spring semester. Green thumb connoisseurs and new plant parents can schedule their no-contact curbside pick-up at the Saddleback College greenhouse on Dec. 7-10, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

According to Ken Lee, a department co-chair, the plant sale is an essential part of the Saddleback community for a long time. Lee explained how the idea of a virtual event came to fruition.

“The whole event started with blessing from the Chancellor and President, who thought it would be a wonderful idea, emphasizing Saddleback Community well-being through plants and gardening,” said Lee in an email. “The entire process has been pleasant and joyful.”

With the community’s help, the horticulture and landscape design department will raise approximately $10,000 and provide scholarships for up to ten students. Aside from the restrictions from the pandemic, Lee expressed his thoughts towards the protocols and class enrollment.

“For the class and protocol-wise, we are doing fantastic,” Lee said. “Actually, the enrollment went up during the pandemic, and the program has been performing really, really well.”

The fundraiser is usually held every semester, but last spring the plant sale was delayed due to the pandemic. Robert Farnsworth, a department co-chair, gave insight on how the plants from last semester will be included in the virtual event.

“Some of them have matured further,” Farnsworth said. “We’ve got specimens that are larger now, but I don’t want to convey that it’s just leftovers. It’s actually even better that they [the plants] have been brought another season in the greenhouse.”

An assortment of plants outside the greenhouse. Tina Maldini/Courtesy 

Tina Maldini, the greenhouse technician, maintains the greenhouse plants and prepares them for sale. While students are learning about the process online, Maldini has been taking care of the plants throughout the pandemic and preparing them for sale.

“We’ll have a lot of the plants that we had ready for spring that we are just going to be selling now,” Maldini said. “A lot of the one-gallon, different shrubs and flowering plants, but we are not going to have the typical annuals that we have, usually in the smaller containers, because we don’t have the student help to do larger production.”

The plant sale will be scaled-down compared to the previous semesters since all orders will be processed online. This will make it easier for customers to place their orders online and for the staff to have the plants ready for pick-up.