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US (PA): Mercer County Community College Horticulture program wins gold at 2023 Philadelphia flower show with sustainable show-stopping display

Mercer County Community College (MCCC) continued its winning streak this year at the Philadelphia Flower Show, taking home the gold medal in the “Education” category for its “Majestic” display at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

“This is our third gold medal since 2017,” said Professor Amy Ricco, coordinator of the college’s Horticulture, Science, and Sustainability program.

MCCC horticulture students also took home two additional medals and an honorable mention — breaking the college’s previous record.

MCCC was the only New Jersey institution represented in the education category. The students competed against colleges such as Temple University, University of Delaware, and Delaware Valley University and secondary schools such as W.B. High School of Agricultural Sciences and Lakeside School Greenhouse.

“Our competitors have landscape architecture programs, which makes for tough competition,” explained Ricco.

In addition to the prized gold medal in the education category, MCCC received the Chicago Horticultural Society Flower Show Medal, which goes to an educational exhibit showing outstanding horticultural skill and knowledge in a nationally recognized flower show. Further, the group also received the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) Gold Medal Award, which acknowledges the best use of PHS Gold Medal Plants, and an Honorable Mention for the PHS Gardening for the Greater Good Educational Award.

“For the PHS Gold Medal Award, we were in competition against every other major exhibitor, including those outside of the education division,” said Ricco.

Mercer County Community College has been a competitor in the Philadelphia Flower Show for nearly a decade. This year’s motif was a noted shift from prior years.

“We went for something more simplistic and sustainable,”  said Ricco.

The stunning display was composed of smart plant choices using native plant species. Centered around the color purple, flower show visitors were greeted with elegant signage explaining the plantings as they meandered along a purple stepping-stone walk through a serene garden filled with flowering plants, greenery, tall trees, and a contained waterfall.

“I am proud of the students and faculty within the Horticulture Program,” said Ricco. “We worked hard, and I had a good feeling about our display when we left the Pennsylvania Convention Center Thursday night, but you never know for sure until after the judging is over,” she said.

Ricco made clear that the college’s participation in the show is an enormous group undertaking. Ricco and the students worked with horticulture adjunct professor David DeFrange and enlisted with campus staff and the college’s Graphic Design Club under the guidance of faculty members Mauro Zamora and Tina LaPlaca.

A $10,000 grant from the Mercer County Community College Foundation, along with support from the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society and Mercer County Community College, provided the resources to make the college’s groundbreaking award-winning display.

For more information:
PHS Philadelphia Flower Show

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