Plant Your Roots in Horticulture
As a Clackamas Community College student do you confidently think you can point out all the buildings for all of the programs we have at school? Here at Clackamas Community College we have a lot of great programs located all around the Oregon City Campus. One of those awesome programs we have here is the Horticulture Department. The Clackamas Print had the chance to interview horticulture instructor Chris Konieczka.
The Clackamas Print: How is the program overall doing being back on campus?
Chris Konieczka: Well, our enrollment is still down relative to 2019. So we see that as a positive thing. And hope that the return to hands on, you know, in person learning helps us bring more people in and get this information skills learning out to people who are looking for it. We’ve been mostly in person since last year in our department. And so now it’s a little bit more than before, but overall, it’s been very well received by students. There are still a couple hybrids and a couple fully remote courses and I think there’s a place for that to continue to happen but, some of the topics in horticulture just have to be done in person.
TCP: Where are these classes located on campus?
Konieczka: All of our classes are in Clairmont Hall, which is the first building from the Beaver Creek Road entrance.
TCP: Is there a farm on campus?
Konieczka: Yeah, the student organic farm is on campus. Between the Douglas Loop Road and Inskeep drive by the community gardens and the welding Hall in the ELC. And yeah, we’ve got a fenced acre market garden over there that serves as the you know, the learning laboratory, and all the organic farming program classes.
TCP: Myself and other students I assume don’t know we have a farm on campus.
Konieczka: Yeah, I think that’s common. The general sections there like DeJardin, [Roger Rook], McLaughlin and stuff don’t know that we’re out here. And likewise, the students that are all horticulture or welding, or apprenticeships in the training center, don’t ever go there either.I think, horticulture students benefit from the financial aid and all of the registration and resources that are there on the other side. And, you know, for the rest of you, I think it’s cool to know what’s out there. We’re kind of hidden behind the trees from the road, even at the farm. And sometimes when we’re selling our produce at the market stand there at the community center. People are like, oh, cool farmers market, but don’t quite understand that it was grown on campus by students as part of an educational experience.
TCP: How are you feeling about being back on campus? What are your feelings about that?
Konieczka: I’m ready for it. I’m excited to be here. You know it doesn’t feel that different. As for my program 2020, there were several classes that were either online or canceled. But then the 2021 academic year, everything was happening here. So there, this isn’t really the beginning of the return for me. But, you know, as an instructor, part of what fuels me is seeing people understand something kind of those moments where they like put it together from the concepts we talked about in class, to the physical doing of something out on the farm. And you can see that there’s, you know, there’s like a fusion, then that results in more understanding. I don’t get that kind of visceral feedback online.
TCP: What is upcoming this year for the horticulture department?
Konieczka: The farmers markets wrapping up, we got two more Wednesdays till the end of October. We usually have our pre Christmas sale from the horticulture club. The horticulture club has several events like that they sell wreaths and holiday type things then they’ve got a rose sale event for Valentine’s Day. And then as the department we have the big Mother’s Day, plant sale and vegetable start sale, which happens the Friday before Mother’s Day. So those are, you know, kind of our major public events. And then we also host a small farms School, which is a big one day educational program for farmers in the area put on by CCC and Oregon State University Extension. That happens in September. It was just on the 12th a month ago. And so that’ll be happening again next September.
TCP: Where are those usually located?
Konieczka: So the farmers market stand is in front of the community center like you saw the horticulture club sales for Christmas and Valentine’s Day are in the community center space, or maybe now in the Welcome Center. And the plant sale is here at the farm.
TCP: Is there a message you want to share?
Konieczka: First thanks for being interested in pursuing this to give us a chance to share something and see a message to leave people with.
I think come out and see, you know, seasonally it changes. We’ve got different display gardens. We’ve got the greenhouses, the vegetable farm. You know, there’s a lot of interesting and cool plants and flowers during different times of the year. We have an arboretum, which is kind of like a tree demonstration library. Between the green one parking lot and the training center. So we’ve got several different interesting trees, some of which are not native here, but they’re interesting specimens. And that’s also the Learning Lab for our Arbor Culture Program. So yes, you know, a lot to come over and check out.
10/10, amazing story and structure. This made me very curious about Horticulture.
Thank you Ethan!