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Maquoketa Valley students Kylynn Clary and Jacob Leytem check out plants at the school’s greenhouse in Delhi, March 29.

After missing the 2020 growing season, Maquoketa Valley’s FFA greenhouse is back, and all indications point to a bigger and better than ever crop of flowers and vegetables growing in the facility for 2021.

“We just opened up the greenhouse again this year. It’s been inactive for two years and we just got it up and running,” explained MV Agricultural Education and FFA instructor Haylee Lau. “The greenhouse is 22 by 48 feet and it’s pretty full of plants right now.”

Take a look inside the greenhouse — located directly behind the high school — and you’ll see quite a variety of greenery.

“We have hanging baskets, vegetables, packs of flowers and we have three hydroponically grown ghost peppers right now,” Lau said. “We have some different succulents and some different house plants that will be for sale.”

It’s been a team effort getting the greenhouse up to speed, according to Lau.

“This is my first year of teaching, so we’re kind of hitting it head-on and taking it big,” she said. “We have six students in the class this semester, and we had eight last semester that are helping us get things up and going.”

Sophomore Erin Knipper enjoys the opportunity to be involved in the project and likes the hands-on aspect of the work.

“This is one of those classes where we can do whatever we want to do,” said Knipper. “We started this semester planting stuff to sell to the community like the flowers we have in there and other vegetables.”

The fruits of the labor will be available to the public when the Maquoketa Valley FFA sponsors a pair of sales.

“The first full week in May we’re doing a plant sale and the first Wednesday, which is May 5, we’ll have a farmers market down at the park in Delhi. The FFA chapter will have some plants out there and the kids will be working it,” Lau said. ”Any money we make goes to the FFA chapter and that helps to send kids to state or national conventions.”

An added bonus to this year’s sale will be the availability of hydro-dipped potted plants.

“We take small white pots and fill a tub of water. Then we spray paint the pots and dip them in water,” said MV student Kylynn Clary. “We keep adding and alternating colors and dipping the pots. It makes a really cool design that’s hard to do with hand painting.”

In addition to offering plants for sale, the FFA chapter works with the Delhi community to add a bit of beauty to the city.

“We do community service projects and we’re partnered with the Delhi Community Garden and start all the plants in our greenhouse,” Lau said. “In May we’ll take the plants and transplant them over to the garden.”