Fullerton College horticulture lab technician Ed Kim kept over 4,000 plants alive by himself during the first two months of the pandemic as well as tending to the college’s landscape.
Kim oversees the day to day operations of the horticulture department. Prior to working at Fullerton College, he was a merchandise coordinator and stared at excel spreadsheets most of his workday.
Plants were his hobby until he began working at Fullerton College. Kim described the career change as a gamble that paid off.
Since May, he has added six interns to help manage the plants. They stagger their shifts to minimalize contact with one another, work in separate areas when working the same shifts and are often working hundreds of feet away from each other.
Kim described running the horticulture department during the shutdown as “a little crazy”.
Although the campus is lonely with the lack of students and faculty, Fullerton College has accelerated construction plans for a new greenhouse. It will be larger than the existing one and include high-tech features such as hydroponics, aquaponics and deep-water culture. It also will be wheelchair accessible.
Construction plans are expected to be completed by the end of December. Kim said the new facility will be “really cool.”
Additionally, Fullerton College is in the process of creating an e-commerce website for vegetable and ornamental plant sales. Customers will be able to buy online and pick up their orders in the parking lot without having to get out of their cars.
The horticulture department usually schedules ornamental plant sales in March and October. They expect the website to completed before the spring sale, which will showcase succulents, cacti, vines, California natives, perennials and shrubs.
Fullerton College horticulture grows its plants with few pesticides and lots of care. “Our veggies taste better because of the way we grow them,” Kim said.
Although managing and maintaining the horticulture department has been challenging during the campus shutdown, Kim said, “we’re making the best of it, that’s what we have to do.”