Flowers bloom at the ARC horticulture department with future plans for a new greenhouse

Four of the 60-year old greenhouses are being replaced on campus.


Fresh tomatoes will be grown in Greenhouse 2 at the horticulture department of American River College. (Photo by Jeralynn Querubin)

The greenhouses of the horticulture department are going to experience big renovations in the future. Students and faculty will be able to make use of one new greenhouse instead of the four 60-year old ones that they have.

The horticulture department just got approved for a brand new greenhouse. They will be converting the four that they have right now to one big one. 

What is horticulture? In simple terms it is the practice of plant cultivation. However, behind that definition it is much more than that. Professor of Floral Design at American River College, Suzanne O’Brien, goes more in depth on the importance of plant care.

“Horticulture is the entire industry that grows plants mostly ornamental. It includes nursery production, interior plants, cut flowers, it also includes floral design,” O’Brien said. 

On campus the ARC horticulture department currently has four greenhouses that are 60 years old. However, there has not been a lot of maintenance done to them since the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Marianne Sala, instructional assistant in the horticulture department, has worked at ARC for 14 years. She helps maintain the greenhouses and nurses the plants and flowers.

“My mom had house plants. I always really noticed all the plants, and I was attracted to what they looked like, the different textures and the aesthetic of them,” Sala said.

Sala and the rest of the staff in the department were unable to work on the greenhouses due to the pandemic. Most of the horticulture classes were online and students couldn’t go on campus to do any planting or watering. 

“When we were told that we had to walk away, and just let everything die, one of my student assistants at the time, Julie, she and I just looked at each other and we started to cry,” Sala said.

Now that classes are going back fully in-person or hybrid, things are looking better for the department. With Sala and several student workers back on campus, plants are growing and flowers are blossoming. 

“If we didn’t have plants–you know the trees that grow, the flowers that bloom, our world would be so boring if it was concrete,” O’Brien said.

The horticulture department just got approved for a brand new greenhouse. They will be converting the four that they have right now to one big one. 

Matt Aiello, student worker, has been working to improve the greenhouses with Sala. 

“This area is something I really enjoy because it’s super calm and there’s not a lot of noise pollution,” Aiello said. “It’s really pretty, especially since everything is going to start blooming soon.”

Aiello started working last fall for work experience. He is wrapping up on his last semester of classes before he completes his horticulture degree.

Right now, the landscape maintenance class is doing clean up projects on campus and soon students from the floral classes will hold a plant and flower sale on April 22 in the Technical Education area at ARC.