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Horticulture students use their knowledge and resources to help those in need

Horticulture Students Help Grow Food


West Grove, PA – Students in the horticulture program at the Chester County Technical College High School (TCHS) are using the knowledge they have gained in their career and technical program to help the Chester County Food Bank feed the county’s hungry.


When donations weren’t enough to meet the demand for food, the Chester County Food Bank knew they had to find other sources to meet the county’s growing need. Their solution: grow the food. Students in the horticulture program at TCHS knew they could help and volunteered for the food bank’s Raised Bed Garden Project.

“Within the past year and a half, we have seen a 54% increase in demand for food,” said Mary Kay Peterson, coordinator of the Raised Bed Garden Project. “We have experienced tremendous support from the community in our attempts to grow organic produce to help those in need.”

As a volunteer site, horticulture students at TCHS constructed raised beds with lumber and soil provided by the food bank. Students will now grow and maintain crops to be donated to the food bank.

“We were able to use what we know to start off the vegetables in our program’s greenhouse, and will continue to care for the crops in the raised beds,” said Harrison Fritz, 10th grade horticulture student from Octorara Area High School. “It’s good to use what we know to help those in need, especially in such tough times.”

Horticulture students took part in the project as part of the program’s commitment to community service. Students in the program have access to cutting-edge facilities designed to enhance their interests and skills, including a state-of-the-art greenhouse, a plant tissue culture lab, and various industry technologies.

A portion of food from the raised beds, which can yield up to ten pounds of produce each week, will be donated to families of students in the Chester County Intermediate Unit’s Migrant Education program. The program will also help maintain the vegetable gardens at the school over the summer.

“This is a positive experience for everyone involved – from those in need who will receive the food, to the students who benefit by the educational experience, as well as learning the importance of community service,” said Heidi Militana, horticulture program instructor.

The Technical College High School is a joint venture of the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) and Delaware County Community College (DCCC). As Pennsylvania’s first hybrid career and technical high school/community college, TCHS offers career and technical programs for high school students; and, DCCC offers associate degree programs to college students. As a public high school, TCHS is free to high school students.

The most unique aspect of the school is that it offers dual-enrollment classes for high school students that blend career and technical programs with associate degree college courses. Students in dual-enrollment programs can graduate from high school with up to 16 college credits.

For more information on the horticulture program or any program at TCHS, or to apply online, please visit http://www.technicalcollegehighschool.org.


Photo Caption: Students in the horticulture program at the Chester County Technical College High School (TCHS) are using the knowledge they have gained in their career and technical program to help the Chester County Food Bank feed the county’s hungry. Pictured here are some of those involved in that project (from left to right): Seated - Alan Contini, Avon Grove School District; Heidi Militana, horticulture program instructor; and Lionel Baxter, Coatesville Area School District. Standing - Len Dwinell, Chester County Food Bank; Nicole Flahart, Oxford Area School District; Harrison Fritz, Octorara Area School District; Alexis Moore, West Chester Area School District; and Mary Kay Peterson, Chester County Food Bank.