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If there’s one thing we love to see, it’s our educational grants in action, educating and inspiring students.

In 2022, AFE gave researchers at Mississippi State University an educational grant of $5,500 to start a cut flower garden on campus. This funding helped purchase perennial plants, gardening tools, and materials to create raised gardens with an irrigation system.

MSU began work on the garden last Spring. Since then, they have installed 24 raised flower beds, established a drip irrigation system, placed weed barriers, and set up compost bins. In addition, they grew and evaluated 23 varieties of specialty-cut annual flowers as part of an experiment through the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers

As the flowers grow, the MSU faculty have grown their educational curriculum to match. In the upcoming semesters, two upper-level floral design courses, Wedding Floral Design and Floral Design II, will complete hands-on projects that directly utilize the cut flower garden.

“The cut flower garden will allow students a more hands-on approach to learning best practices for growing and collecting cut floral material from nature and fill an educational gap currently lacking in the degree curriculum,” Dr. Cole Etherage, Assistant Professor of Floral Management at MSU, said.

The faculty plans to incorporate the garden into even more courses over time. Currently, they are planning a 10-week Floral Management course that students can take over the Summer that teaches everything from how to establish a cut flower garden, growing and maintaining it from seed to harvest, post-harvest care and handling for flowers, and even designing with the flowers. 

In the future, the faculty hopes to use more funding to expand the garden by planting more perennial shrub varieties, incorporating additional raised flower beds, participating in testing for new specialty cut flower varieties, and installing a rainwater collection system.

This is exactly the kind of work we at the Endowment strive to empower and encourage. If you would like to help us as we continue funding educational programs like this one, please consider a contribution to AFE

In everything we do, we aim to inspire and educate the next generation about the vast opportunities in the floral industry–and, hopefully, spark a passion for flowers. 

Scroll down to see more photos from the cut flower garden!

 

 

 

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