Crowds down but more plants sold by FFA

Arlington High School Future Farmers of America Vice President Kolton Ford and member Kaitlyn Meissner tend to their plants during their May 10 sale in the AHS greenhouse. - Kirk Boxleitner
Arlington High School Future Farmers of America Vice President Kolton Ford and member Kaitlyn Meissner tend to their plants during their May 10 sale in the AHS greenhouse.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

ARLINGTON — The Arlington High School greenhouse drew a smaller crowd from May 8-10, for the Future Farmers of America’s annual plant sale, but organizers estimate they sold a greater percentage of plants.

“We started with a smaller inventory this year,” said FFA adviser Tracy Brown, who estimated they only had 10 baskets, a dozen geraniums and various other veggie starts left over.

“We’ll donate some of our unsold inventory to Post Middle School for the Post/Darrington dance, some to Silvana for landscaping the Silvana Fair, and some to Quilceda Meadows, which is a home for disabled adults, for their community garden and landscaping projects,” she added.

This year’s plant sale generated approximately $4,000, which Brown deemed slightly down from previous sales.

“Our promotion was not as good as it has been in the past,” Brown said. “We also didn’t have an art festival to pair up with this time, which usually doubles our advertising, and the weather didn’t exactly cooperate either.”

The proceeds will go toward the travel costs of the AHS FFA’s Nursery, Landscape and Floriculture Teams for next year’s contests. They travel to four or five contests each year, including the State FFA Convention. Funds help pay for the students’ meals, buses and hotel rooms.

Although there were fewer attendees, those who did show up made the plant sale’s baskets and zonal geraniums high-demand items.

“They loved the scented geraniums as well,” Brown said. “It’s easy to tell the scent of lemon or orange fizz, but it’s more of a challenge to describe lady plymouth or oak leaf.”

Some of the plants’ labels got mixed up, so that some tomatoes and peppers weren’t labeled according to their types, but Brown thanked those customers who were brave enough to buy the “mystery veggies.”

For next year’s sale, Brown plans to offer more houseplant and basket starts, and possibly even a make-your-own-basket option, so that customers can pick and choose which plants they want. In the meantime, the AHS FFA teams will be wrapping up their three days at the State FFA Convention in Pullman on Saturday, May 17, on the Washington State University campus.

“We’ll stay in the dorms and eat in the dining centers, just like the college kids do,” said Brown, who’s accompanying 13 students as they compete in the categories of Parliamentary Procedure, Food Science, First Year Greenhand, Prepared Public Speaking, Extemporaneous Speaking, State Talent and State Delegate.

On the first weekend in June, four AHS FFA members will exhibit and sell their hogs during the Puget Sound Junior Livestock Show, before other Arlington students exhibit their animals at the Silvana, Stanwood-Camano, Skagit and Evergreen state fairs.

“I think FFA gives the community a sense of what our kids can accomplish,” Brown said. “I’ve heard from multiple people who have bought our plants at these sales, telling me how great those plants do all summer, as they grow and flower. That’s why those customers come back. It’s for a great product and a great cause. I really appreciate all the support we get from the community.”

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