Joy To The World was the top song, All in the Family was the most-watched show on television, and Walt Disney World opened in Orlando, FL.
The year was 1971 and at Spartanburg Community College, Jimmy Painter started a new program of study focused on agriculture and primarily, peach production.
SCC’s School of Horticulture celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, having evolved into a diverse program for the study of horticulture and agriculture. It offers the only Associates degree in horticulture in the Upstate and gives students a hands-on teaching environment at one of five recognized arboretums in Spartanburg County.
“Our program started with agriculture, mainly focusing on peach production, and now we’ve brought it back to be more of a sustainable approach, a more intensive agricultural approach, more farm-to-table,” said SCC Horticulture Program Director Jason Bagwell. “In 50 years, obviously, there’s been a lot of work done. We’ve been able to have a major impact not only on the industry, but on the local community, as well.”
The impact of the SCC Horticulture program is felt across the state, the country and even internationally, with SCC graduates landing jobs in landscape management, turf and sports turf management, and the greenhouse and nursery industry.
“We actually had a graduate go to China and work at a tree farm, and we’ve had several go out west to work in the cannabis industry,” said instructor Jay Moore. “What we’ve seen more of recently is students going to work at botanical gardens, so that’s been a fun one to watch. We’ve exposed them to the collection we have here on our arboretum, and they’ve gone to work at other arboretums across the Southeast and across the country.”
The longevity of SCC’s Horticulture program has allowed the creation and maturation of plant collections and facilities that make SCC a top-notch teaching environment, said Dr. Kevin Parris, SCC Arboretum Director.
“To see collections of plants that are placed for educational purposes is very difficult to duplicate and we’re lucky to have the history we’ve had to be able to provide that,” Parris said.
SCC’s Horticulture program boasts four greenhouses, a nursery production area, several unique ornamental gardens such as the Plant Zoo Garden and International Peace Garden, an outdoor lab complex, and SCC’s Center for Sustainable Agriculture.
“We have plants that, based on their origin, represent all the countries of the world,” Bagwell said.
The SCC Giles Campus at I-85 and New Cut Road also is one of five recognized arboretums in Spartanburg County, along with USC Upstate, Hatcher Garden & Woodland Preserve, Wofford College and the Milliken campus.
“We’re really lucky in Spartanburg County to have a focus on landscaping, gardening, and just the care of trees in our community,” Parris said. “People come from far and wide to visit, and we’re lucky to be part of that camaraderie in Spartanburg County.”
The public is invited to visit the gardens on SCC’s Giles Campus, with weekdays when school is in session being the best time. Group tours also can be scheduled.
Members of the community also are invited to attend Arboretum Adventures on Sept. 23. The event will feature a presentation by Patrick Cullina, an award-winning horticulturist, landscape designer, photographer and lecturer.
Cullina is probably best known for his work on the New York High Line, a 1.45-mile elevated linear park, greenway and rail trail created on a former New York Central Railroad spur on the west side of Manhattan in New York City. In Spartanburg, he will speak on the importance of plant collections to the learning experience and how they can create dynamic landscapes.
Now in its tenth year, Arboretum Adventures is presented by the SCC School of Horticulture and the Spartanburg Community College Foundation and raises funds for the Jimmy Painter Horticulture Scholarship.
Go HERE for more information and to purchase tickets for Arboretum Adventures 2021: Lesson from the Garden.