Rich Peterson has come a long way from bringing excess crops from his home garden to the market. After getting his start at home with the mantra: “If some is good, more is better,” Rich now supports horticulture science students of Yavapai College by bringing the fruits of their labor to market.
For the past two years, he has been representing the Agribusiness & Science Technology Center as a teacher in the greenhouse. Horticulture science students take classes in water management, soils, agriculture business, and community-supported agriculture (CSA). The latter inspired Yavapai College’s booth at the Prescott Farmers Market. Rich always brings a student or two with him to sell at the booth. He believes that by exposing the CSA students to the market, it takes away the intimidation factor.
How can Yavapai College manage to grow and sell tomatoes and peppers in January? Their 10,000 square foot, temperature-controlled greenhouse has 4 bays in which crops usually grown in the summertime can flourish. The greenhouse is governed by a computer that operates heating and cooling systems and monitors humidity.
Students use techniques such as hydroponics, aquaponics using tilapia fish, and several vertical growing methods to maximize use of space. They are responsible for starting seeds, maintenance, marketing, and keeping their plants safe from insects and diseases. They also grow table grapes, grafted apple trees, hanging baskets, and bedding plants — which are sold at their annual plant sale during the first Saturday in May. During the fall semester, the students raise poinsettias then sell them in December.
Rich is happy to talk to anyone about the various degrees, certificates, and community interest classes available at the Chino Valley campus.