Students’ State Fair garden earns Commissioner’s Award

Date posted: January 3, 2012

State Fair gardenPhoto courtesy of Barbara FairAlbert Cooper, a senior horticultural science student, looks over the State Fair garden installed by Barbara Fair's horticulture class. The garden was recognized with the Commissioner's Award.

What started as a learning opportunity for a landscape class at N.C. State University resulted in some new, permanent landscape features for the State Fair’s garden area. The effort also received the Commissioner’s Award for the fair’s garden area this year.

Barbara Fair’s class on trees and garden maintenance learned in September that class members would be allowed two plots in the garden to develop. The class designed a waterfall and stream from an existing water feature, installed patio pavers, a retaining wall and night lighting.

The fair’s garden area is a popular destination, with gardening demonstrations and competitive events. At night, the competition gardens come alive with creative lighting features.

During the month of September – in preparation for the State Fair in October – the class spent three to four weeks at the fairgrounds installing the garden features and plants. The project counted as the class lab for this semester.

Fair says it this was the first time that one of her classes has worked on a garden at the fair. Some of the garden features will remain as permanent fixtures in the fair’s garden area.

“We were there for a month, once a week for four weeks,” Fair said. “They did a great job. I think they had fun doing it.”

And what did they learn? Class members say they learned how to work with limited resources. Many of the plant materials were donated, limiting the plant choices. They said they also learned how to dig a proper hole and how to work as a team.

“You can’t replace that type of hands-on experience in a classroom,” Fair said, adding that class members learned a sense of civic duty and team work through their efforts

-N. Hampton

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