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Westmoreland County Community College horticulture students to sell fruits of labor

| Monday, April 22, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
Horticulture students (left) Lori Waryanka and Michele Gregorich tag plants in the Westmoreland County Community College greenhouse to prepare for a vegetable and flower plant sale. The fruits of the students labor will be sold 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on April 25 in the greenhouse located near Science Hall on the Youngwood campus.

Horticulture students at Westmoreland County Community College this semester carefully tended row upon row of greenhouse-grown geraniums, petunias, tomatoes, basil, cabbages, melons, dahlias and succulents.

On Thursday, the public can buy the fruits of their labor at an annual fundraiser that benefits scholarships, student field trips and a school horticulture club, said Xuri Zhang, professor for the greenhouse production course.

“They grow everything from seeds or cuttings,” Zhang said. “Our students are very enthusiastic and conscientious.”

Zhang, a teacher at the school since 1991, said the college offers a program in floriculture, the study of greenhouse production and management.

In its horticulture program, the college offers programs such as floriculture, landscape design and turfgrass management.

Bob Phillips, a student in the class, is a construction worker who plans to own his own greenhouse selling organic vegetables.

“This is my passion,” he said. “I love the color, the flowers, the smells. ... Watching the buds come out of the plants.”

Phillips of Avonmore intends to grow warm- and cold-weather crops along with herbs.

“All things that restaurants like to have fresh in the winter,” he said.

Student Jacob Lewis of New Florence is working toward an associate degree in floriculture with hopes of teaching someday.

Lewis said he “developed a true passion for this area of study.”

“It's a wonderful class,” Lewis said. “Of all the classes I've taken so far, it's been the most rewarding.”He and his classmates, he said, just helped the plants along.

“You look at these things like they're miracles,” Lewis said about the plants.

The college will offer courses this summer, too, he said.

Lewis said he hopes the college's programming will expand to sustainable horticulture.

“It's an asset to the region,” Lewis said about the horticulture courses. “It's an asset to the commonwealth.”

Rossilynne Skena is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6646 or rskena@tribweb.com.

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