Fallbrook FFA plant project given first-place award

Fallbrook High environmental horticulture students created this fair project, titled "Recycling is Our Cup of Tea", which won a first place ribbon at the San Diego County Fair.  Lucette Moramarco photo
Fallbrook High environmental horticulture students created this fair project, titled “Recycling is Our Cup of Tea”, which won a first place ribbon at the San Diego County Fair. Lucette Moramarco photo

Joe Naiman
Village News Correspondent

Fallbrook High School’s Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter was awarded a first-place ribbon for its plant project in the youth landscape exhibit at the San Diego County Fair.

“The kids were happy and they had a lot of fun putting it in,” said Fallbrook High School agriculture teacher Scott Duffin, who is in charge of plants for the school’s agriculture program and associated FFA chapter.

Duffin teaches an environmental horticulture class, and his 32 students participated in the fair project which was titled “Recycling is Our Cup of Tea.”

“They planned it from the get-go,” said Duffin. “The kids planned it, the whole landscape, according to the fair theme, and we worked on it as a class.”

This year’s San Diego County Fair theme is “Mad about the Fair,” which celebrates Alice in Wonderland, so the tea party and mushrooms in the design were coordinated with the theme. The decorated vegetation was complemented by actual mushrooms themselves planted by Duffin’s students.

The students began their work approximately eight weeks before the June 3 start of the fair, and the project was constructed in approximately 1 1/2 months.

“They had to take care of [the project] every day,” said Duffin.

The tops of the designed larger mushrooms were made out of recycled plywood. The students planted sphagnum moss on the plywood, covered it with chicken wire, and planted succulents.

The tea cup was made from cut propane tank ends with the base having originally been a tire wheel. The mushroom flooring and stems had previously been wood wire spools. Janikowski Construction donated the propane tank, the tire wheel, and wooden wire spools. Mariscal Cactus and Succulents was also a donor to the FFA project.

The tea cup was filled with lemon ball sedum, which is also known as Green Tea. The exhibit also used sunburst aeonium, lily pad aeonium, live forever, lipstick echeveria, hen and chicks, queen palm, Mauna Loa echeveria, Perle von Nurnberg echeveria, afterglow echeveria, red African milk bush, Black Knight echeveria, and pony tail palm. Black wood chips and brown mulch complemented the surface of the display.

“We were very proud of it,” said Duffin. “They learned a lot from it, too.”

The display also included 14 photographs of the students working on the project.

The first-place award was the third in a row for the Fallbrook FFA plant project at the fair. “It’s a great way to finish off the year – with a blue ribbon,” said Duffin.

The students will remove the display after the end of the fair and will create succulent bowls using some of the plants. Those succulent bowls will be sold at the FFA’s succulent plant sale this fall.

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