December 16, 2015

Planters and poinsettias make perfect Christmas presents

Between September and December each year, horticulture students at CAFRE combine their creative and business skills to produce a range of perfect Christmas gift solutions.

Whether it is a traditional poinsettia grown at within the Horticulture Centre, an outdoor planter designed and planted by the students or an added value gift such as a gift wrapped winter hellebore, the students ensure there is something suitable for everyone..

Poinsettia were first introduced to the USA from Mexico in 1825 and today they are the highest selling potted flowering plant in the world.  In the US alone 34 million plants are sold each year.  In the Horticulture Centre at Greenmount a range of high quality poinsettias are grown  as student projects. This year Dean McCoy,and Berta Cunha of the Crops and Horticulture Team also grew some larger specimen plants as a demonstration to the industry.  Level 3 Horticulture students under the supervision of horticulture lecturer David Dowd sold their produce in the Fairhill Shopping Centre Ballymena, whilst the Foundation Degree students ensured NICS staff got a personal delivery service in Mallusk, Loughry Campus, Dundonald House, Causeway Exchange and of course  Greenmount.

Such student projects help develop not alone students crop husbandry skills but in addition skills in production planning, customer liaison, customer service, and team working.

Caroline Cushenan, a first year student on the Foundation Degree advises all customers to keep poinsettias well wrapped up against the cold as they are transported home and then to find a brightly lit spot out of draughts to ensure they continue to display  well into the New Year. She also advises that they should be watered very sparingly from the base and then misted daily or stood on a pebble tray to keep the air around them humid.

Head of Horticulture Education, Paul Mooney is very supportive of these learning by doing projects,   “It is vital that while studying at CAFRE, students gain the production management, marketing and customer care skills that are so essential for success in today’s  horticulture industry. During our education programmes students also take an active part in planning and constructing show gardens and growing and selling plants for both Garden Show Ireland in Antrim and Balmoral Show at the Maze.

CAFRE Director John Fay collecting his order from Horticulture Foundation Degree Students Sinead Duncan, Neale Ingram and James Crawford.

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