Planted between two greenhouses near WDC Middle/Highschool is the long awaited produce stand. June 4 is opening day for the season and greenhouse coordinator, Caroline Venis was busy tending to a line of customers eager to inspect tomatoes and cucumbers. Venis has been growing for years and the small stand provides produce to the community with some items sprouting sooner for here.
Venis opens the stand early in June and closes down in the last week of August. She explained that she tries to avoid having the stand open during school hours. The produce stand is open every Tuesday from 9 a.m. to noon, with Venis openly displaying her freshly picked produce on the stand counter.
"I love my job, I have the best job in the world," said Venis as she ecstatically described her craft. The longtime gardner explained her intricate setup and how she often gets certain vegetables sooner because of her specially equipped greenhouse. Her deep winter tunnel, burns national gas to keep things nice and warm over the winter. This allows her to plant tomatoes and cucumbers early and harvest them earlier in the season. The availability of tomatoes and cucumbers so early makes her stand quite popular. Additionally she grows lettuce, spinach, kale, cabbage, pumpkins and a variety of flowers.
Venis works with students regularly throughout the year in preparation for the stand. Students during free hour or independent study come out and help Venis plant, weed, and tend to the many planters in the greenhouses. Venis uses her plants as device for community and student interaction. Outside of her high tunnel greenhouse is a special plot for pumpkins. Venis plans to grow huge competition pumpkins. These pumpkins are a fun assignment for students, in the fall when they are removed from the ground, students will have the chance to guess their size.
Another special project involves cabbage plants. Venis will give the plants to some younger students with them being responsible for their care. Watering and tending to them will be entirely their job. In the summer the students are instructed to send a photo to Venis and she will select the best one to be entered into a drawing for $1,000.
Venis also helps with summer recreation activities. With many people choosing athletics, some are drawn to the dirt and turf. Summer recreational students are given free reign to grow whatever they want. They utilize large planters just a few feet away from the green houses. Venis is at the ready to impart her gardening knowledge on the aspiring gardeners.
Venis has a busy month ahead of her. Business is somewhat frantic in June and she often sells out of produce within a couple hours. Customers should come early to get their pick of freshly harvested vegetables.