Plant Sale Grows Kids

By Eve Pranis

Sure, bake sales can help you raise money for your classroom gardening supplies, but consider the opportunities for learning, class pride, and individual growth as students plan and implement a schoolwide plant sale. Tie it in with Mothers' Day, and you've got another base covered.

Foresa Coe's "exceptional" nine to thirteen year olds in Wentworth, NC, cut their plant business start-up costs to zero by using recycled school milk cartons, popsicle stick labels, and donated soil and houseplants. They rooted hundreds of cuttings during the winter in preparation for a Mothers' Day plant sale. After plastering the school with creative posters annnouncing the upcoming sale, each student learned enough about one plant to show and describe a sample to another class. The student presenters explained the details of the sale and had each class make an appointment to shop. "It was amazing how the whole project and students' enthusiasm mushroomed," reports Theresa. "I even had students with severe speech problems giving plant sale speeches in front of 30 kids."

After projecting sales based on school enrollment, the students realized that their 300 plants might not fill the demand. A local nursery sold them garden seedlings wholesale which students marked up for resale. During the three-day plant sale, the young entrepreneurs dressed up, provided customers with information on plant care, collected money and made change, and beamed with pride.

The hard-earned $400 profit which was used for school landscaping projects, gardening tools, and a pizza party was not the only gain, reports Foresa. "They were thrilled with the respect earned from the other kids, they gained social skills, math and business skills and, of course, an understanding of the needs of living things." Her advice to other teachers contemplating a similar project: be prepared for enthusiastic shoppers and for the project to go over even better than you'd dreamed. The first day of school this year Foresa's students were already eager to know: "when are we going to start planning the plant sale?"

While Foresa's students chose houseplants for their sale, we've heard of other class plant sales featuring such offerings as: potted herbs, marigolds, zinnias, pansies, vegetable seedlings, and bulbs.

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