The Golden Leaf Foundation awarded a $1 million grant on April 7 to fund a new greenhouse for Blue Ridge Community College’s horticulture program. The new structure will enable students to maintain automated growing systems and teach skills valuable to area growers and agribusinesses.
The grant was one of 14 awarded by the Golden Leaf Board of Directors totaling over $10.1 million for community-based projects in Western North Carolina. These grants will support workforce preparedness, job creation, economic investment and the agriculture industry in Henderson, Transylvania, Buncombe, Cherokee, Graham, Haywood, Jackson and Madison counties.
“I am so pleased and excited about the opportunities this greenhouse will provide our students,” said Blue Ridge horticulture instructor Rachel Meriwether. “With the new greenhouse, we will be able to expand our conservatory and indoor plant program, as well as do more experimental jobs in the original greenhouse.”
Meriwether described the current greenhouse as a wonderful structure, but one the program is quickly outgrowing. The grant will add a state-of-the-art second greenhouse to the college where students will learn all about the green industry. In addition to growing plants, they will learn about marketing, budgeting, seasonal timing, year-round pest control, and more.
Lisa Adkins, Blue Ridge Vice President for Advancement, explained how the grant will support the College’s efforts to create a workforce training pipeline that supports the rapidly expanding grower industry in Henderson County. "The number of new, commercial growers in the region is increasing, and current growers are expanding their operations,” she said. “Golden Leaf and Blue Ridge will not only provide trained professionals to fill these jobs, but also provide continuing education to help current employees advance their careers.”
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