The Lazy Urban Gardener’s Safety Net

Reader Contribution by Gretchen Anderson
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I’ll admit it; the veggies I intended to start back in February are still in their packets next to the starting tray that’s never been opened. A busy schedule and procrastination got the better of me. Now, the calendar is creeping up on June and the last average frost date has passed. As an urban gardener, I’m ashamed of myself. I have nothing to transplant.

In past years, to correct this colossal case of procrastination, I’ve headed to my local garden store and purchased starts from corporate greenhouses. But, what if one could buy starts locally and help out a good cause at the same time? This is where a local high school comes in. The local high school where I live holds a robust plant sale every spring. For months leading up to the sale, the high school botany class students tend to hundreds of flowering and edible plants. 

“It’s a huge success,” says Molly Bell, instructor. “Through this sale, we raise the funds that support the class and this program — and it is self sustaining.” For the past decade, Eagle High School, in Eagle, Idaho has held an annual Botany Plant Sale right before school ends and summer break begins. The plant sale brings in nearly $5,000. That allows Bell a little wriggle room in her budget. It covers everything from potting soil to seeds — and all things in between.

The class works in two greenhouses and a traditional classroom. The students, who for some are after an “easy science credit” quickly learn there’s a lot more to this type of botany program. “The kids not only learn the science end of this course, but they also learn about marketing, advertising, accounting and customer service,” adds Bell. Students, such as Austin Diffey and Katarina Labrador (shown at right), help work the sale and manage the plant display. 


I arrived early on the first day of the sale. I was able to pick up some rare tomato starts — ones I’ve never before tried. I also found some very healthy pepper plants and added a half dozen of them to my order. The absolute best part of my visit is that I found spaghetti squash plants. I’ve wanted to try growing these for quite some time, as my family eats a lot of this type of squash. I rounded out my order with cucumbers, herbs and several flowering hanging baskets that were full of blooms and cost me only $12 each. I even picked up a beautiful succulent wreath the kids had made, and gave it to my mother-in-law for Mother’s Day. What a find! I was so giddy over the various plants — you would have thought I’d grown them myself.

So if you find yourself in a similar quandary, call your local high school and see if they have a horticulture safety net for you! You will help yourself and help fund programs for future gardeners.