By Dennis Hackett
WESTFIELD – Following the current social distancing guidelines, the Westfield Technical Academy Horticulture program will host its annual plant sale May 8 – 10.
The sale will take place at the school’s Greylock Street entrance May 8 from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., May 9 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. and May 11 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Horticulture instructor Nate Sperry said planning the sale has been a unique challenge this year.
“It’s been a real challenge, obviously we want to respect the social distancing guidelines and wear the proper [personal protective equipment]. And with respect to timing, it’s been difficult because we weren’t really sure if we were going to be able to have a plant sale,” Sperry said.
During the sale, a wide variety of plants will be available for purchase, including annuals, perennials, hanging plants, and foliage plants.
Sperry said that they will be maintaining the strict social distancing guidelines throughout the sale. “We ask that everyone brings a mask and all of the volunteers will have masks and gloves,” he said. “The sale will take place outside and we will limit the number of people in the sale area at any one time. We’re confident that we will be able to keep everyone safe as they are shopping.”
He added that the staff is willing to accommodate anyone that may have fears about close contact because of COVID-19. “If people are uncomfortable with getting out of their car, we can offer some special services if folks want us to bring plant material to them.”
While the students were a part of the initial steps in the sale, Sperry said they will not be participating in the sale this weekend. “The kids were involved with setting up with planting all the plants and filling all the pots. But since they are not allowed on campus, we have been running it without their input at this point, which is unfortunate. We’re missing the hands-on portion right now and that’s a shame,” he said.
Sperry also said that they will only be accepting cash and check payments during the sale.
He added that he is hoping that the weather this weekend does not deter people from coming out to the sale.
“Right now, the weather is not looking all that great and so it’s hard to sell plants when the weather isn’t very nice. So, I’m hoping people overlook the weather if it is poor and come support Westfield Public Schools and our students,” he said.
While the sale may look a little different this year, Sperry said he hopes the community still comes out to support the students. “I always look forward to seeing the community come to our plant sale and support us,” he said. “It means a lot to the students and it shows that there is value in what they are learning and their work.”