Middle Georgia's green thumbs readying their gardens for spring have a chance to load up on plants while supporting a great cause.
Dr. Sharon Mozley-Standridge, Middle Georgia State College associate professor of biology, and her Science Club students will be selling a wide variety of plants on Thursday, April 3, to help fund an amazing greenhouse on the Cochran Campus.
The sale is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in front of the Cochran Campus's Dillard Hall. Prices are $1 to $5 (cash only) per plant. All the plants were cultivated in the greenhouse, which is located next to Dillard Hall. The sale is open to the general public.
The Cochran Campus greenhouse was developed some years ago by Dr. Franz Eitel, a now-retired biology professor and horticulturist, but it had not been used in a couple of years when Dr. Mozley-Standridge joined the biology faculty in 2006. As a University of Georgia grad student, Mozley-Standridge had helped out with sales put on by the Plant Biology Graduate Student Association. She wanted to duplicate the idea on the Cochran Campus to help generate interest in using the greenhouse.
"My interest in restoring the greenhouse was so we could use it for teaching, service and research," she said. "But I was also interested in seeing if we could generate awareness through a campus fundraiser that would get students involved in working in the greenhouse and working with plants."
With the encouragement of Dr. John Pasto, her academic division chair at the time, Mozley-Standridge began marshaling forces to restore the greenhouse. Olusean Ajayi, a student in the college’s GAMES (Georgia Academy of Aviation, Mathematics, Engineering and Science) program, and Mozley-Standridge's husband, Zach, participated in the cleanup.
"The maintenance staff on the Cochran Campus has also greatly supported the greenhouse, including renovating the inside several years ago," Mozley-Standridge said. "The benches still look new! They also continue to help keep up the windows, electricity and water, for which I am extremely grateful. My husband also designed and installed an overhead PVC timer-controlled watering system that helps keep everything properly watered even when I have to go out of town."
The first plant sale took place in 2007. Two years later, the annual sale became the primary fundraiser for the Cochran Campus Science Club.
These days, the greenhouse is home to a plant teaching collection, plants cultivated for the annual sale and a pond with goldfish that is part of an aquaponics setup. Aquaponics is a system of aquaculture in which the waste produced by farmed fish or other aquatic animals supplies nutrients for plants grown hydroponically, which in turn purify the water (Oxford Dictionary).
Mozley-Standridge said the greenhouse is used for a variety of lab activities and experimentation.
"We started growing pineapples after a student wondered if you could grow pineapples in Georgia," she said. "We got a pineapple from the local Piggly Wiggly and now we are growing the fifth generation of Piggly Wiggly pineapples, which are sweet but not too acidic. The greenhouse is also home to a collection of wildlife such as frogs, chameleons and insects.”
For more information about the plant sale, email firstname.lastname@example.org.Plants for sale include:
1 – Coleus Rainbow Variety
2 – Habanero Peppers
3 – California Peppers
4 – Ring-O-Fire Peppers
5 – Tomato Juliet Variety – Red Mini-Roma tomatoes
6 – Big Boy Tomatoes – Medium to Large Red Tomatoes
7 – Swiss Chard
8 – Eggplant – Black Beauty Variety
9 – Basil – Italian Variety
10 – Parsley
11 – Marigolds – Multiple colors
12 – Zinnia
13 – Early Girl Tomatoes – Red medium
14 – Cherry Tomatoes
15 – Big Rainbow Tomatoes – Orange
16 - Black Krim Tomatoes – Dark Red/Chocolate
17 – Raddish
18 – Coleus
19 – Bibb Lettuce