West Windsor, N.J. – The Horticulture program at Mercer County Community College (MCCC) has been on the move this week as faculty, students, alumni and industry volunteers loaded up their truck and headed for the Philadelphia Convention Center. The group has completed the construction and set-up for their display for the renowned Philadelphia Flower Show, whose theme this year is Holland.
The MCCC exhibit, “Postcards from Holland,” features essential elements of Holland’s inspiring natural landscape: a park, a farm, a windmill, and a gorgeous array of flowers and plants. This year marks the fourth consecutive year that MCCC has participated in the show, the only community college to be represented.
“We have been working on our display for many months and have hundreds of plants, flowers and materials to load, transport and plant in our exhibit space over a four-day period,” said MCCC Professor Amy Ricco, Coordinator of the Ornamental Horticulture and Plant Science programs. She adds that the volunteers will continue to participate throughout the eight-day show, which runs from March 11 to 19.
Judging for the many displays that will fill the convention center’s exhibit space takes place March 10. In 2016, MCCC won a Silver Award for its “New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail” exhibit in a show that paid tribute to America’s national parks.
Renine Jackson, who has been taking horticulture classes at MCCC as a part-time student for ten years, is experiencing her very first flower show from the presenter’s side. “When you attend the show as a visitor, you don’t imagine all the effort that goes on behind the scenes. It’s hard work, but very satisfying. This is the pinnacle of my time studying at Mercer,” Jackson said.
On the MCCC farm, visitors will be greeted by rows of corn, tomatoes, and lots of tulips. Featured in the park section are rhododendron, witch hazel, roses, and several large trees -- all of which were forced into bloom in Mercer's greenhouse. The farm has a barn populated by two calves and a sheep -- wireframe topiaries stuffed with sphagnum moss, covered with Cryptomeria, and spray painted. The windmill was built in two pieces that have been put together at the Convention Center. The display also has a water feature and vintage bicycles decorated in flowers.
Ricco applauds the various areas of the college that have pitched in on the project. Graphic Design and Illustration students created a series of postcards for distribution that include their work on one side and facts about Holland on the flip side. They also created a series of posters with facts about Holland’s exemplary use of its limited space and resources. The Art Club painted the exterior of the windmill. A Television student produced a two-minute video on sustainability in Holland that loops continuously in the windmill and barn. Staffers from the Facilities Department helped to transport the windmill to Philadelphia, assemble it and get the sails moving.
Ricco notes that the Horticulture program is truly grateful to members of the college community who have provided vital assistance. “We hope all our work will pay off. Our goal is to provide visitors with an memorable and enriching educational experience that will be a delight to the senses,” she said.
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