OCC Poinsettia 2019

The annual poinsettia sale has been cancelled this year due to COVID-19 impacts. The 2019 crop, pictured here, raised thousands of dollars for the OCC Horticulture Department. 

Orange Coast College’s Horticulture Department will not host its annual poinsettia sale this year for the first time in 44 years. 

Due to COVID-19 and no students being allowed on campus, the department was not able to grow the crop.

Typically, the poinsettias are grown each year by horticulture instructor Joseph Stead and students enrolled in Greenhouse and Nursery Science courses. Poinsettias are the class project for the fall semester, and they normally grow about 10,000 plants. 

Since the class was not offered this semester, the greenhouses remained empty this fall because it must be taken in person.   

Many who have purchased poinsettias in the past are sad to hear that this tradition will not be happening this year. 

“I’ve had phone calls from customers who didn’t get the email or news that we weren’t having the sale and they said how they didn’t get a flyer this year and we had to tell them,” Stead said.

Stead, who has been growing the poinsettias for 25 years, has been the only person maintaining the living lab in the Horticulture Department.

“For me it has been very kind of eerie to be on campus with no students here,” Stead said. “Usually the department is always open and there are students here studying, getting ready for finals right now, and we would always have students here and events. It’s a little ghost town now.”

The spring and winter plant sales have always been a tradition that brings the community together. 

“We have had a sweeping exposure to the community with our plant sales for decades. That’s where I feel is the greatest loss — having students relate to the community residents and the interaction,” said Rick Harlow, horticulture instructor in charge of the sales. 

This also means there will be less funding for student projects since the Horticulture department raises a majority of their funds through both their winter and spring sales. 

The department experienced a loss of almost $60,000 from no sales this year. 

The 2021 spring plant sale is also canceled because the classes will not be offered next semester and students will not be able to grow the plants.

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