Words like "beautiful" and "favorite" were echoed by dozens of visitors walking by one landscaping display in particular at the Pennsylvania Farm Show on Tuesday.
The "Edible Landscaping" display created by students in the Horticulture Two class at Northern High School won the Best Overall Design award at the Farm Show.
The award qualifies the display for the Big E Competition in Springfield, Mass., in September. Organizers of the Big E Competition will select six displays from across the country to be entered in the contest.
Students also won first place in the plant material and non-living plant material categories for their display. The one category they did not place in was for blueprint design, which they won last year.
The landscape design contest included displays from 11 school districts in the state.
Northern High School teacher Carol Richwine had her students begin gathering plants from the school's greenhouse and gardens in October to represent the school's "Farm-to-School" effort. Students continued to work on the display over their holiday break, said Richwine. Their commitment to volunteering outside of class time is what brought them such success, and otherwise they would have been missing too many hours at school, she said.
It took two days to set everything up, and they finished by 3 p.m. on Friday, in time for the 4 p.m. deadline before the displays would be judged, said Richwine. They are judged by Black Landscaping, based in Cumberland County.
Swiss chard, curly kale, blueberries, huckleberries, and strawberries from the high school's courtyard filled the display along with carrots, spinach, basil, and blooming spring shrubs transplanted from the school greenhouse.
Every student first had to come up with a design for the space, said Richwine. As a class they looked at the common factors in each design and brainstormed ways to put them together, she said.
"It's best when everyone is a part of it," Richwine said.
Two drafting students took the horticulture students' hand-drawn design and created an autocad framed landscape print.
Brandon Seamans, a senior wood shop student, did the bulk of the work to create the wooden arbor at the center of the display.
"It's real life experience," said Richwine. "We will do most of the teaching afterward."
The display will remain at the farm show until Richwine and her students tear it down on Saturday night.
This is Northern High School's second year entering the contest, said Richwine. Schools must submit a plant list and final plan by Dec. 1 to enter, and must stick to that plan for their display.
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