Floral Design Tricks for an Ag Class on a Tight Budget
Don't feel like you have to set up an account with a wholesale florist and use half of your annual budget just to supply your students with floral material. Never be afraid to ask for donations of floral supplies. You'll be surprised what sort of "projects" parents and friends have at their house but just never got around to using and just don't want to throw the supplies away. There are other creative ways to stock your classroom with supplies.
- First off, consider making friends with the local florist. Florists commonly throw away aged and wilted flowers because they aren't fresh enough to use. Invite them to speak in your class, build that relationship, and then see if you can take their cast offs for practice in your floral design class.
- I've also seen some pins from Ag teachers on Pinterest where they used different types of candy taped to sticks. That helps reinforce texture, balance, and placement of accent pieces without using real flowers. Once the students get more comfortable with the concepts then you can move onto fresh flowers.
- You may also ask students to bring in silk flowers that are just taking up space in their house. Warning: what you perceive as unused silk flowers and what your students perceive as unused flowers are two entirely different views. Make sure they ask their parents before swiping their mother's favorite centerpiece from the coffee table and bringing it in for use in class.
- #3 is also true for vases. Many moms have a collection of vases they just can bring themselves to throw away. Tap into that reservoir of free vases as long as the students ask before bringing them in.
- Around my school Leyland Cypress, Blue Rug Juniper, and white pines were not safe, ever. The greenery is great just don't strip the trees bare. Find additional sources around town to support your projects.
- Dollar stores occasionally have really great prices on silk flowers so keep an eye on those stores as well. Same goes for candles.
- I've visited my share of yard sales. Again, look for silk flowers, mugs, vases, and accent pieces at very cheap prices.
- A middle school chapter in our state had a small floral "shop" that their 8th graders operated. Do your best to include the principal in on your plans if you choose this as a class project. His or her endorsement goes a long way with the faculty and staff. Create a theme for each month of the school year. The faculty & staff who participate pay a nominal amount of money and receive a themed arrangement each month from the start of school through summer break. The students were required to learn the proper sales techniques ( not "Do ya wanna buy some flowers from the Ag class?") and how to approach faculty and staff with the product/service. At least one or two of the months incorporate a unique mug, cup, or jar from the customer that the arrangement will go in. Using customer supplied materials helps keep the cost down. You can read an earlier blog How to Create a Small Business with an Ag Class with more tips and ideas on how to get your business up and running.
- Powerade, Coke, and Pepsi double glass door refrigerators make great floral coolers without paying for a floral cooler. Check with your principal and coaching staff and see if they have one that works but they don't trust enough to keep in the concession stand. Check with your parents, local business owners, and farmers. You never know who has one of these because "it's still good" and they just didn't want to throw it away.
- Once your students prove their skill as floral designers, then approach faculty, staff, and administrators about preparing arrangements for awards banquets or other large gatherings. You can have the students create a full presentation with samples of table centerpieces or vase arrangements that pair with the colors and theme of event. For example: spring sports banquet would have school colors and sport themed accent pieces.
This should be a great start to get you up and running. If you teach floral design, then you are already creative so just use that creativity to locate free/cheap materials that will benefit your students and your chapter. Creating students with high level skills in floral design is based largely on experience. Do everything you can, in every way you can to get your students creating a arrangements for all types of settings and you'll be amazed at what they can accomplish.
We do have study materials for chapters who compete in Floriculture or Floral Design CDE's. Click over to both of these and find some CDE materials your students can use to train up for the next CDE.