Volunteers Rescue Shasta College

Volunteers Rescue Shasta College

Volunteers rescue Shasta College’s 10k veggie seedlings from going to waste.

  • Original Article: https://www.redding.com/story/news/2020/04/09/shasta-college-redding-nonprofit-providence-international-plant-sale/2974735001/

The coronavirus pandemic has essentially shut down Redding, including the campus of Shasta College and its horticulture department.

But the college’s annual spring plant sale is getting ready to start under a partnership between the college and Redding nonprofit Providence International.

Close to 20,000 plants were being nurtured in two greenhouses on the Shasta College campus, getting ready for the popular annual sale that typically raises thousands of dollars to support the college’s horticulture program.

Being left untended was particularly dire for the 10,000 vegetable plants sitting inside the greenhouses while the entire campus remains closed to students, professors — and certainly members of the community who otherwise would buy the seedlings.

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“We couldn’t sell them, couldn’t move them or anything,” said Shasta College horticulture instructor Leimone Waite. “Our concern was if you don’t plant your vegetables now, it’s sort of too late. You want to get them in (the ground) in the next month or so or you’ve missed your window. The plants will get too big in the pot.”

She added, “At this point, we’re just looking to not have to throw the plants away and for them to go to gardens, so people can grow some food.”

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Fortunately, a local nonprofit that the college donates seedlings to each year came to the rescue.

If the college could get its plants moved to Providence International’s locations, the nonprofit said it would get the plants sold and give the college some of the proceeds.

A past plant sale takes place on Shasta College campus. (Photo: Shasta College horticulture instructor Leimone Waite)

A past plant sale takes place on Shasta College campus.

Robert Hancock, the nonprofit’s founder, said the initial call from Shasta College was to offer the seedlings to his program for free.

“But we wanted to help them,” said Hancock, whose group operates a horticulture-related job training and placement programs for ex-offenders and people in recovery.

“They’ve got quite a bit of money that they’ve put into all this and a lot of effort and hard work. We just didn’t feel right about them (not) getting something back for their effort,” said Hancock.

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About seven volunteers, including Shasta College trustee and real estate broker Scott Swendiman, will spend Friday and Saturday loading up the 20,000 plants into donated trucks. Then, they’ll transport them all to Providence’s greenhouses, located on its locations on Railroad Avenue in Redding and just south of the city off Knighton Road and Interstate 5.

Arrangements are also being made to transport some of the college’s plants to a nursery in Dunsmuir and a nonprofit in Red Bluff that will also sell them.

Once online sales are enabled, buyers will be scheduled intermittently to come in to pick up their purchases in keeping with social distancing mandates.

Providence will soon place a buy button on its website for people interested in purchasing the plants, which include tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, melons, cucumbers, basil, dill, strawberries and potatoes, as well as flowers and native plants.

In the meantime, people with questions should contact the group at 530-215-1032 or send an email listing their name, phone number and email to office@providencegardensofhope.org. Anyone who emails that address will get an email back only after the ordering system goes online, a Providence spokesman said.

Michele Chandler covers city government and housing issues for the Redding Record Searchlight/USA Today Network. Follow her on Twitter at @MChandler_RS, call her at 530-225-8344 or email her at michele.chandler@redding.com. Please support our entire newsroom’s commitment to public service journalism by subscribing today