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A green Frontier

Frontier FFA is selling garden ready plants this week

Photo by Janelle Patterson Frontier Local students Gracie Mendenhall, left, and Amara Geese, stop to smell budding flowers in their school greenhouse Tuesday.

NEW MATAMORAS — Green thumbs abound for teens of Frontier Local Schools.

“When Mr. Bohlen joined our staff alongside Mr. Curtis who had already been on our staff, it was one of their goals to get that greenhouse back going again,” said Frontier Local Schools Superintendent Beth Brown.

And to work they went.

If you go

¯ Frontier FFA is selling remaining flowering plants and vegetable plants ready for gardens during school hours this week and with limited hours thereafter.

¯ Today students/instructors intend to remain open for sale of the plants until 5 p.m.

¯ Plants are also on sale during school hours Thursday and Friday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Source: Kurt Bohlen and Erin Curtis, agricultural science teachers at Frontier Local Schools.

“Three years ago we kind of revamped the greenhouse because it was rundown,” explained Agriculture Science Teacher Erin Curtis. “Kurt (Bohlen) and I both remember when Mr. (Erwin) Barry was here and he had an excellent program there.”

The pair focused on the basics, at first, putting a new poly roof on top of the steel frame that was built in 2001, when Bohlen was still a student of the program.

Then last year, students were just planting seeds in germinator trays when coronavirus hit Ohio.

“Last year, when we first put those plants on sale it just — poof,” Curtis described, hands completing the motion. “I think there was (some) panic that people weren’t going to be able to get food and some people were saying they were planting gardens that hadn’t planted gardens for years. They bought flats of tomatoes, not knowing what they really needed.”

This year, interest grew in the Frontier FFA program, with students taking every advantage to get outside and work with their hands away from the confines of a cinderblock classroom and computer screen.

“This was our first year actually doing all of the work because last year we were quarantined and couldn’t finish,” said Amara Geese, 14, of Newport. “I’m surprised by how many plants we actually got and how fast they grew, it seemed like we planted them as seeds one day, and then the next there were leaves.”

Bohlen said the program is an introduction into the agriculture fields which many of the Frontier students may pursue following graduation.

“I think a lot of them will end up in an ag-related job of some sort,” he explained. “Most won’t have that opportunity (to work directly on a farm) but they’ll end up in the ag-field. Whether that’s welding or even construction.”

The teacher pair have taught germination technique, allowing students the full experience of trial and error, following planning for hanging baskets of flowers, and troubleshooting when a plant doesn’t sprout.

“Some of us have gotten to sell them, we’ve watered them, wrote the name tags for all of them,” said Gracie Mendenhall, 14, of Newport. “When we first started selling I thought, ‘there’s no way we’re getting all of these out of here,’ then three weeks later (the baskets) are gone.”

But the “soft skills” are also a highlight of the greenery produced just outside the school’s shop.

“Cooperating with each other … one group would be putting potting soil in the germinator seed trays and one group would be actually planting the seeds,” Curtis described. “Then we’ve had a couple of girls in the ninth period they were pretty much the watering crew most of the year.”

“Then we had others come out and actually work the sales,” added Bohlen. “Some work with customers when they come in.”

Garden flowers and varieties of tomatoes, lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, eggplant and peppers still fill the greenhouse and are ready for sale to support the school’s FFA programming and as coronavirus restrictions loosen, trips and educational extracurricular trips.

“What’s neat is here they get to be kids, they get into it out here,” smiled Bohlen. “The more we can get out here the better. Do something with our hands. You’d be surprised, we’re going to try to sell what’s here but they’re already asking if what’s not sold, can they take it home? ‘I want to take it home and plant a garden. We’ve started something again here.”

Plants are for sale this week, including until 5 p.m. today, during school hours Thursday and Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Six-packs of vegetable plants are $3 each or $30 for a flat and flowers are in four-packs and are $2 per pack or $15 for a flat.

Contact Frontier High School for more information at 740-865-3442.

Janelle Patterson may be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.

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