Summer plant sale underway


The Daily Mining Gazette

Copper Country ISD students’ summer plant sale is up and running. The sale will be today from 12:00 p.m. to 3 p.m. The ISD students and their teachers have held this sale every year since their greenhouse was built in 2019.

They are set up right next to the greenhouse which is located at the Copper Country Intermediate School District building on Hecla St. in Hancock.

“These students have grown all of the plants from seeds,” Coordinator and Autism specialist Karyn Juntunen explained.

Their latest project has been filling up their raised beds. “Some of them are seeds and some are transplants that were grown by the Michigan State Extension farm and we were a part of that seed exchange. So that’s gonna be growing all summer and then I have volunteers who work here at the ISD building all summer,” she said.

They try to be as resourceful as possible in their gardening practices, so they only water with rainwater that they collect in barrels on site. This can be tricky during dryer months, but they have managed to stick to this goal.

The greenhouse is currently home to many different plants for sale such as zinnias, basil, tomatoes, and many more.

Going into its fourth summer season, the greenhouse is still in great condition and has even had some recent renovations within it.

“One of our community partners is Sleeman’s, so they had helped me to get the ventilation right too. We had so many local companies helping us to get this going,” Juntunen said.

They have been utilizing a unique method of gardening by using waterbeds, which are essentially exactly what they sound like – Water-filled permeable tarp beds with a felt layer in between. This allows for the plants to be self-watering when placed on top of the bed and has been extremely beneficial for root growth.

“A very big problem with school gardens is that someone always has to water on the weekends and this kinda solved that problem,” she added.

They explained that a goal of theirs was to expand on their root vegetables since tomatoes and lettuce are not ideal during the fall harvest. This explains their infamous ‘pasty garden’, which is filled with potatoes, carrots, rutabaga, and onions.

“Part of my program is cooking, so we made pasties in the Fall with all of our ingredients. However, I did have to explain to my students that we did not grow the meat,” she chuckled with her students. But we did use locally sourced meat, which was delicious”

The students benefit from this in multiple ways as well. First off, 100 percent of the money from their plant sales goes toward their program. Additionally, “Our students have a payment system with time cards so that they go out to eat once a month and they have to use that money they earned and then order and do all of their budgeting too. So it really is a small part of a big process within our program,” she explained.

The ISD students have expressed their interest in gardening as well as helping others, so this is a complete combination of just that.

“They’re learning customer service skills, speech, math, science, sustainability, and even how to deal with crop failure at times when we’ve had really hot days in that greenhouse,” she said.

This demonstrates the benefits of hands-on learning and place-based education.

“We’ve been doing this for years as special educators,” Juntunen explained. Now, general education educators and universities are adapting these learning techniques more often today.

Their mission at CCISD is to create an impact on their students’ lives while helping the community at the same time. She said, “We wanted to teach them something that was important to our area, our culture, and our environment.”


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