Photo: 2010 Richland Board of Trustees

Hands On Horticulture

Richland’s Agribusiness/Horticulture program is designed to prepare students for a career in the horticulture industry that includes sustainable agriculture, greenhouse production, landscape design and construction, lawn and tree maintenance and floral design.

What makes Richland’s Agribusiness/Horticulture Program so special?

The Student Farm at Richland

Students literally get their hands dirty at the Student Farm, which is an outdoor classroom for research, demonstration and crop production. The site includes two production greenhouses (2,400 square feet), as well as two hoop houses (960 square feet) which allow for crop production through harsh winters. Resources also include a shrub nursery, an All American Selections Display Garden plus additional flower and perennial gardens (16,000 square feet), 16 farm plots (38,400 square feet.) with fruit trees, brambles, energy grasses and vegetables, a shade structure and student-designed and constructed walks, waterfall, retaining walls, patio and outdoor kitchen.

In the fall of 2011, the program will offer a “Small Farm Equipment” class. This class teaches students how to use a tractor and other implements used in small farm production including a micro bed shaper. Designed to be used on a small farm, the bed shaper creates precisely shaped raised beds, lays drip irrigation and plastic mulch allowing optimal field growing and harvesting conditions.

According to David McLaughlin, Association Professor and Agribusiness & Horticulture Program Director, the bed shaper is cutting-edge technology that is used in other parts of the country where small farms are even more abundant.

“The bed shaper is a very economical piece of machinery,” commented Mr. McLaughlin. “The opportunity to be properly trained and to operate the bed shaper on the student farm is a life-changing skill for the small farmer, no matter where they are geographically. I really don’t know where else you would be able to receive this hands-on training without purchasing the equipment.”

With these abundant resources, the Student Farm provides countless opportunities to explore the entrepreneurial possibilities in the sustainable agriculture and horticultural programs. However, the Student Farm is also a mechanism for learning the agribusiness side of small farm production with the student managed Horticulture Plant Sale and Saturday Produce Market.

Horticulture Plant Sale

The Richland Agribusiness/Horticulture Program is known for its practical demonstration curriculum where students work with fellow classmates to plant, cultivate, and harvest a variety of agriculture and horticulture plant material. The annual Horticulture Plant Sale offers a wide and diverse selection of annuals, perennials, fruits, vegetables, herbs and shrubs. Hundreds of people look forward to and flock to this event which is typically held Mother’s Day weekend.

Saturday Produce Market

Established in 2010, the Saturday Produce Market is entirely student-run and an integral part of Richland Student Farms. From seed to market, the students obtain practical experience in all aspects of operating a community-based small farm business. The market provides area-wide consumers with fresh, locally grown foods while supporting rural and urban independent farmers. The remarkably successful Saturday Produce Market was held each Saturday from June 5 through October 16, with a similar schedule planned for 2011.

“The program is designed for the small farm operator who desires to start small,” noted Mr. McLaughlin. “This is one of the only programs anywhere that teaches you technical skills (small acreage farming) and then provides a mechanism (Saturday Produce Market) in which you sell your product.”

Location, Location, Location

Located in the heart of an agribusiness corridor, Richland Community College is next to a leading biofuels producer, near leaders in food technology and energy mining, and at the center of the nation’s agriculture business and research corridor.

Richland continues to bridge education with business to meet the needs of its students and surrounding communities. Through the combined effort and support of faculty, staff, students and community members, the Richland Agribusiness/Horticulture Program has expanded from a single instructor and a few students to a wide variety of programs. In addition to horticulture, programs include agribusiness, floral design, landscape, turf and greenhouse management, sustainable agriculture, and (dual credit) agriculture biotechnology, biological science and veterinary assistant programs.

Sustainable Agriculture Program

The Sustainable Agriculture curriculum is designed to provide the entrepreneurial and technical skills necessary to manage a profitable, environmentally sound, community-based small farm or agricultural business. Students learn the fundamentals of sustainable agriculture focusing on crop production, sustainable livestock production and farm business. Emphasis is placed on entrepreneurial and practical field training. Students will complete a business plan and an agricultural internship in sustainable farming.

An Invitation

Be sure and visit the annual Horticulture Plant Sale each May as well as the Richland Saturday Produce Market in the summer for locally-grown, quality, fresh produce. If you are interested in learning more about becoming an entrepreneurial small acreage farmer or Richland’s Agribusiness/Horticulture Program, visit, or contact David McLaughlin at 875-7211, Ext. 562 or at