The West Michigan Home & Garden Show at Devos Place opened on a cold, clear Thursday. Inside was a much warmer welcome – spring had arrived.
Students from Kent Career Tech Center were putting finishing touches on a lush landscape display in the middle of the atrium. “It’s sort of a high profile spot,” said Heather Pratt, the Sustainable Agriscience teacher at the Tech Center. “Most people here are selling products. We just want to show ours off.”
The Tech Center students put together a water feature and garden display, with a bridge connecting two stone walkways over a pond with stone fountains. An array of the students’ plants and flowers filled the platform structure.
Ezra Chauvlin, a senior at the Tech Center, said the display was only a snapshot of what they do in class. Summarizing the Agriscience program, he said “We work in a greenhouse on sustainability projects.” The class, he said, is organized into small groups that share the tasks Pratt assigns them. In addition to flowers, they grow basil, tomatoes, potatoes and even a banana tree. They do several wholesales throughout the year, including a poinsettia sale during Christmas and a spring plant sale in May.
“The Home & Garden Show provides an excellent opportunity to showcase the students’ work,” said Pratt. Pratt, who has spent much time in a greenhouse, said the Agriscience program introduced students to a variety of careers. She said somewhere between 40 and 50 percent of the Tech Center’s Agriscience students find careers in a related field, many she had not considered before teaching Agriscience.
“The fun part is seeing students doing things like tree care or golf courses and thinking, ‘I could do that,'” she said.
Pratt said she felt proud seeing her students’ faces at the Home & Garden Show, marveling at their work. She enjoys the final product, as well as the process that she and her students undergo to make it happen.
In the greenhouse where they spend class, Pratt said, “It feels like spring or summer all year.”