Baby plants grown for community

PENNY WARDLE
Last updated 15:33 15/11/2012

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Native seedlings for planting out around Marlborough are growing in a Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology plant nursery opened in Blenheim last night.

Horticulture tutor Don Cross said people studying towards a two-year Certificate in Horticulture were already using the nursery to grow seeds and propagate plants.

Year two students would learn to collect and sow native plants, prick them out, grow them and then plant them, Mr Cross said.

Each student would grow 300 native seedlings which they can either plant at a site of their choice or into the proposed natural burial site at Fairhall Cemetery, he said. Species were selected from the Marlborough District Council's Tui to Town list of plants which attracted native birds and insects.

Tutorial assistant Sandy McLauchlan said students were also encouraged to start their own projects. Already growing out in the propagation house are juvenile Christmas trees, vegetable seedlings and young plants that will create a sound barrier at the Eastern States Speedway near Blenheim.

The certificate was a part-time course involving up to eight hours of online study plus two evening sessions a week. Many of the students, aged from 20 to 80, fitted the study around fulltime jobs.

Mr Cross said the nursery and potting area were being used to educate not just students but the wider community. The Nativity scout group and St John cadets have visited and learnt propagation skills there.

Another link with the community was providing vegetable seedlings for the community gardens next door.

Certificate in horticulture patron and respected horticulturist Ralph Ballinger officially opened the nursery. Mr Ballinger and his late wife Pat donated the land where the institute sits and took an ongoing interest in horticultural education.

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- The Marlborough Express

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