April 15, 2005 | By: Aimee Heald-Nielson

A greenhouse in eastern Kentucky is providing a way for youth and adults to learn about growing plants.

Richard Helton, horticulture technician for University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Cooperative Service in Martin County, works closely with local growers to teach them greenhouse basics.

“We start seeds early in the winter time,” he said. “Most of the flowers you see in your landscape, we start in January or February then transplant them in March and April so they are ready to sell by Mother’s Day in May.”

Roger Mollette, Martin County Extension agent for agriculture and Natural Resources said the greenhouse was purchased with taxpayer dollars so they have tried to find ways to help the community in return.

“This year we turned it into an incubator,” he said. “We have a family here in Martin County that has a small greenhouse operation and they have not been real successful at it. We invited them to work here under Richard Helton’s supervision this year and hopefully they will learn some techniques they can use to have a better greenhouse at home.”

Recently fourth-graders from Warfield Elementary came to the greenhouse in Inez where Helton, Mollette and Martin County Extension agent for 4-H youth development Joe Maynard helped them plant marigolds to give to their moms on Mother’s Day.

“It’s a really good educational resource,” Maynard said. “We had a follow-up exercise where they learned the life cycle of a plant, the difference between monocots and dicots, and all the parts of a plant. These things are actually in their core curriculum content for testing in April, so it’s a way to prepare them for that as well.”

Another use for the greenhouse is reproducing heirloom vegetable plants. The seeds are cultivated inside the greenhouse and then planted outside in a small garden plot before they are distributed at a plant trade day in May.

“The last few years, there has been a huge move toward heirlooms because of the taste,” Mollette said. “Some people say they have disease and pest problems, but they’ve been with us for hundreds of years and have survived so we want to make sure we preserve the heritage of plants in the county.”

Plants from the greenhouse also are grown for beautification projects in Inez and Warfield.

“We’re really trying to bring the results from the greenhouse back to the community,” he said.


Writer: Aimee Heald-Nielson 859-257-4736, ext. 267

Contact: Roger Mollette 606-298-7742