Front Range Community College Blog

New Greenhouse Supports Horticulture Programs

A new building at the Westminster Campus has students asking a question that gets to the root of the horticulture programs at FRCC: “When do we get to go into the greenhouse?”

The 2,000-square-foot greenhouse had its maiden voyage during the middle portion of the fall 2015 semester. Now, with thoughts on spring and the planting that goes with the season, the greenhouse is ready for full use.

Hands-on training makes you job-ready

If you want hands-on experience for an industry that has more jobs than people to fill those jobs, consider either of FRCC’s degree programs – Horticulture and Landscape Technologies or Horticulture Business Management.

Horticulture and Landscape Technologies is an Associate of Applied Science degree that prepares you for a wide variety of careers. After completing a core of classes, you choose a specialization area and certificate, which includes an internship.

Horticulture Business Management is an Associate of Science degree that prepares you to transfer to Colorado State University for a Bachelor of Science degree in Horticulture with a Horticulture Business Management concentration.

Versatile facilities for horticulture classes

Our new facilities are versatile enough to span all that we offer.

The hands-on starts in the classes conducted in the headhouse. “Headhouse” is an unusual name if you’re not familiar with the horticulture industry, but that’s what the room attached to the head of a greenhouse (or a series of adjacent greenhouses) is called. Our headhouse is lab space for any class we teach. We can perform soils labs or plant propagation in the headhouse and not worry about mud pies splashing down, if we were in a standard classroom.

The greenhouse itself was constructed and is laid out just as a commercial greenhouse would be, from fans to fog nozzles, from sprinklers to drip irrigation. As students choose their projects, the 12 benches in the greenhouse will be filled with their plants. In the Introduction to Horticulture class, for example, students run an experiment with eight similar plants, with four plants given a certain course of treatment and the other four treated in a different manner.

Farm-to-table demand grows

House plants, bedding plants, and agricultural plants all can be accommodated. Vegetable production is an expanding industry, and Urban Agriculture is trendy. One reason is that foodies are demanding more farm-to-table products, and restaurants and grocery stores are responding. The restaurants and grocery stores have their own demands: They want a consistent, tasty product. Most urban farms have at least a small greenhouse on the site. We have an Urban Agriculture certificate to prepare you for this emerging industry.

Outside the facility is a garden area and an irrigation site – our outdoor laboratories.

‘Green industry’ has plenty of opportunity

Opportunities in the “green industry” are expansive. One challenge in the industry, however, is to find qualified, motivated employees who have touched plants and know what to do with them. How to water and fertilize plants is a skill backed up by knowledge and experience. Another big need? Finding bilingual English/Spanish speakers with horticulture and supervisory skills.

Industry and hobbyists alike support us

The challenge of finding workers is one reason we have support from industry and others. Our new facilities were supported by grants from the Colorado Garden Foundation, the Boettcher Foundation, and the Colorado Horticulture Research and Education Foundation. Even home-based gardeners realize the importance of the industry and our contributions to it. We received a grant from the Happy Transplants Garden Club to buy needed equipment.

Horticulture careers

You can go into floral design, landscape design, landscape construction, turf management, irrigation contracting and management, or nursery and greenhouse management.

You can work for someone else or you can start your own business. Small business management is part of our curriculum. If you are the entrepreneurial sort, we’re happy point you in the direction of the Small Business Development Center on campus.

Avatar for Ray Daugherty

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ray Daugherty is program coordinator and faculty in the Horticulture and Landscape Program at Front Range Community College’s Westminster Campus. Ray was voted the 2012 Master Teacher by his colleagues and students. This self-confessed “plant nerd” is a lifelong Colorado gardener and holds a B.S. in landscape horticulture from Colorado State University. Ray joined the Front Range faculty in 1998.