Pierce College Farm Diminished

It’s the year 2077, and Angela Brahma, a student at StarWorks Academy (formerly known as Pierce College), is upset.
She wanted to take Plant Propagation 101 but, at the last minute, the class was canceled. She was one of seven students who signed up for it. Under the ironclad rule that no class could be held with an enrollment of less than eight, Plant Propagation was relegated to the long list of agriculture and horticulture classes with the status of “postponed until further notice.”
The only other classes offered for people who wished to pursue a career that involved plants were Preserved Flower Arranging 106, Tree Embalming 204 and Permanent Landscaping 309. These classes were heavily enrolled with long waiting lists, although even if they hadn’t been, Angela doubted if she would have signed up. She wanted to get her hands on living plants – if only she could find some!
As early as the 1980s, rudimentary techniques for the preservation of plants had been developed. Chemicals were found that could be sprayed on dried flower arrangements to make them last for years. Palm trees, when treated with a patented chemical compound, become elegantly preserved specimens which, even to plant experts, appear to be fully alive in every respect. The atriums (purists called them “faketriums”) of Las Vegas hotels were soon filled with these trees.
However, it wasn’t until the prolonged drought recently ended – it lasted from 2060 until 2073 – that a quantum leap in plant preservation technology occurred. When the drought began, strict water rationing went into effect and, in many gardens, everything but cactus died. Just when people had all but given up on surrounding themselves ever again with lush, green plants, the breakthrough came. Some organic chemists, inspired by a trip to the pyramids of Egypt, developed a product called “Perma-Sap,” which, when injected into any plant, would freeze growth while preserving the plant’s appearance at the moment of mummification. At last, the dream of many homeowners was realized; you could surround yourself with plants that were always covered with flowers but didn’t make a mess.
Still, the techniques required for plant injection and preservation were sophisticated and the chemicals used somewhat toxic, and a license was required to engage in the commercial practice of plant mummification. StarWorks Academy, which had been an agricultural college at one time, was considered a proper venue to conduct mummification training. This training would be a continuing legacy to the traditions of the college, which once taught people how to grow real plants. It would also be a logical adjunct to the main curriculum of the academy, which prepared students for careers in the film and television industries.
A few old-timers could remember what it was like when the college included vast open spaces that offered bucolic relief from congested city life. Gradually, not too profitable farmland was converted into a hugely profitable theme park and film production facilities, where reality could be convincingly portrayed through computerized imaging, true-to-life set designs, and mummified plants.
At the time, a budget deficit had to be eliminated, and the college had the authority to do almost anything it wanted to in its open space, since it owned the land.
Other profitable ventures included three miniature golf courses and an arcade; roller rink and ice-skating complex; a kiddie land fun fair and petting zoo, together with a choo-choo train that moved you from one end of the campus to the other.
But none of this impressed Angela Brahma. She still wanted to learn how to propagate plants. She had found a dusty volume in the school library that gave you step-by-step instructions on how to grow plants from seeds, bulbs and cuttings. She wanted some hands-on experience in the techniques that were described.
As Angela left the campus that day, she noticed how nicely polished the leaves of every tree appeared, how perfect were their flowers and their bark. It was the same way they looked every day; Perma-Sap was truly incredible.
“I could live with far less perfect trees, with a lot less luster on their leaves,” Angela told herself, “if only I could learn how to plant them.”

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