Drew Mathieson Greenhouse at Bidwell Training Center: Where education and the love of plants flourish
By Anna Yoder, Membership Director – North Side/Shore Chamber of Commerce
Photo: Drew Mathieson Greenhouse
If there can be a silver lining to the pandemic, it is my rediscovery of the Drew Mathieson Greenhouse (DMG) at Bidwell Training Center, Western Pennsylvania’s premier educational greenhouse! As the pandemic drags on, I have been desperately looking for a way to be productive (outside of my four walls) and get more involved in the Northside community. My love of plants quickly steered me to seek a volunteer position at the DMG. I had hoped that being around plants (not people) would be an acceptable approach to social distancing. What was I thinking? It’s a pandemic: Few people worked from their offices and most were not looking to add to their current pool of employees. As it turns out, no new volunteers for the greenhouse were being accepted and my hopes to volunteer and experience DMG were dashed.
With the passing of last summer and fall, I had renewed hope that the pandemic would lessen and looked forward to the holiday season. One of my favorite traditions is filling my home with live poinsettias. It was through my search for local poinsettias that I first experienced DMG, yet I was not totally prepared for my surprising discovery.
DMG is, according to its website, “a student-focused educational facility that supports Bidwell Training Center’s Horticulture Technology program.” It is also a plant lover’s paradise, right here on the Northside. If you have ever drooled over the fancy poinsettias seen at botanical gardens and conservatories such as the J’Adore Pink (unique pink color) or Alaska (brightest white) poinsettias, or admired the novelty ones such as Ice Crystal (large rosy red bracts with pale pink to apricot centers spotted with red) or Picasso (cream and red-speckled bicolor plant) and did not know where to purchase them, your search is finally over! DMG is your source not only for fancy and novelty poinsettias, but also for a wide selection of standard red and white varieties—and beautiful poinsettia topiaries too. I was so astonished at the wide selection of poinsettias for sale that my exuberance spilled over into every conversation with friends. I probably wore out my welcome at DMG by making a weekly trip there to buy more plants. (To my delight, many friends took me up on the tip about the poinsettia sale and were thankful they did.) The poinsettia sale began in mid-November, so don’t wait too long to get your favorites! Depending on the time of year, in addition to poinsettias, you will find a variety of locally grown herbs, DMG’s magnificent signature orchids, a variety of gorgeous hydrangeas, and vegetables.
DMG was founded in 2003 by the Manchester Bidwell Corporation and is home to the Bidwell Training Center’s Horticulture Technology program, where students are fully integrated into the operation of the greenhouse. This is a unique applied learning opportunity for the horticultural students who grow the plants that DMG sells.
Although I have not yet had the opportunity to volunteer at DMG, I continue to experience all that DMG has to offer the community as a regular patron during their plant sales and now at their newest community endeavor, their “Lunch and Learn” series. The Lunch and Learn series began in October of this year and was developed to further engage the community. It offers an educational session by a gardening professional along with a super tasty lunch prepared by Bidwell Training Center’s Culinary Arts Program students. These sessions are just as wonderful as the discovery of their plant sales. If you too want to experience all that DMG has to offer, consider stopping by each week during their “Walk-Up Wednesday” plant sales between 8:30 a.m and 12:30 p.m. or sign up for a class in their Lunch and Learn series. All plant purchases from the DMG support Bidwell Training Center’s unique nonprofit educational operating model.
DMG is located at 1600 Metropolitan St. and is operated by the Bidwell Training Center. For more information or to place an order for poinsettias, call 412-231-7200 or email either firstname.lastname@example.org or CKenney@manchesterbidwell.org.
Anna Yoder is the Membership Director of the North Side/Shore Chamber of Commerce. Established in 1897, the Chamber’s mission is to “promote, connect and support the growth and success of businesses.” If you have questions about the Chamber or are interested in becoming a member, contact Anna Yoder at email@example.com.