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Two Hagerstown greenhouses give young people start in business

April 28, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN -- Blake Wolfe wants to own and operate a bakery one day.

Barbie Peace hopes to create her own line of sneakers.

Before those dreams can come true, both Washington County Technical High School seniors say they are getting their first start in business by working in their school's greenhouse. It opened about two weeks ago, but Blake and Barbie have been preparing for the annual plant sale since the beginning of the school year.

About 40 Technical High School students participate, said Steve Frame, who teaches entrepreneurship courses and manages the greenhouse.

The Washington County Job Development Center Program at Marshall Street School in Hagerstown also is operating a greenhouse for the second year, said horticulture teacher Justin Fahrney.

The Technical High School and Job Development Center greenhouses are now open to the public. Both have thousands of plants, flowers and vegetables.

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Frame said he has close to 16,000 plants in the school's greenhouse, which is now in its fourth year.

Ryan Ennis, a Technical High School senior, said students began planting in late January and early February.

"We learn how to run and operate a business," he said. "It's what we have to do in the real world."

Andrew Davis, also a Technical High School senior, said last week that he was spending his class time helping customers in the greenhouse. One customer was looking for a specific type of tomato they did not carry, he said.

Andrew said the greenhouse has about 15 types of tomatoes.

"The students have worked so hard here," said Steve Frame's mother, Barb Frame, who helps the students each year.

Blake said she was surprised by the amount of work that goes into operating the greenhouse.

"It's not just plant a seed and watch it grow," she said.

Frame said the money made each year at the greenhouse is used to purchase the seeds to grow plants the following year.

"I like it ... like being outside working with the plants," said Keith Moats, a Technical High School senior.

Keith said he hopes to start his own carpentry business one day, and said he will use what he has learned in the greenhouse in his own business.

"It takes a lot of work, prep time and money," said senior Jeremy Johnson.

Fahrney said the greenhouse at the Job Development Program gives students the experience of caring for living things. It also provides a skill that the students can apply after they graduate, he said.

"There's some of the programs that these students will go to after they leave here ... some of them are working in greenhouses," Fahrney said. "It gives them something different that some of the kids have never experienced."

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