Author Topic: Gardener as a career?  (Read 2701 times)

Silverwood

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Gardener as a career?
« on: October 16, 2015, 08:19:28 PM »
Right now I'm applying to be a master gardener and am looking at taking some online courses.   I didn't even realize there were courses you could take! Basically I would like to work in a greenhouse. I believe that everyone should have access to delicious organic fresh  vegetables and not have it cost an arm and a leg haha I'd be interested in learning more about hydroponics and aquaponics and plain old gardening. More than I can learn from youtube and any experiments that I do myself.

What kind of job could I get with this knowledge?  Is there  a better place to live? Is there a specific  course I should look into? I know most answers will be States specific  but that's ok. I'd be willing to move, if that's possible. From what I understand  moving to the states from Canada is difficult. I just know our growing season is very short in Mb.

Kriegsspiel

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Re: Gardener as a career?
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2015, 08:59:49 PM »
Look at Britain (they have a history of great gardeners), or Hobbiton.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Gardener as a career?
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2015, 12:54:16 PM »
I question the value of master gardener courses, at least because most of the people I've met who have that certification are pretty lousy gardeners.

Growing food is a learn by doing process. There's no substitute for getting experience season by season.

1. Research the farms in your areas with CSAs or who sell at farmer's markets and ask if they are hiring for next season.

2. If you want to get into edible landscape design, that's more of a permaculture design course than master gardener course.

Unless you work your ass off, get lucky, and put up a fair amount of risk it's not a particularly remunerative career. I find gardening quite rewarding but relying on it for primary income would add a lot of stress. Farming is incredibly risky, though there are a lot of business models that mitigate this to a degree (SPIN farming or market gardening).

I can happily try pointing you to resources with more detail.

backyardfeast

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Re: Gardener as a career?
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2015, 01:40:06 PM »
OP, I'm not sure what opportunities there are in MB, but there are lots of landscaping businesses here on Vancouver Island (where the growing season is long and gardens are maintained year round).  It's seasonal work, but if you're mustachian and were able to get a good client base going, I would think you'd be able to do pretty well. 

I think there is a growing niche in helping people to set up vegetable gardens too (at least I'm hoping long term I might have a kind of homestead-set-up-consulting business), as part of a landscaping business.  There's also working in nurseries (again, here on VI, we have a number of excellent nurseries that operate year round and do workshops throughout the year, though of course winter is slower).

There are also lots of urban farmers; I'm sure there are some everywhere; in fact, I think SPIN farming was developed by a couple in Winnipeg or Saskatoon?  Out here there are also NGO food security groups starting and maintaining community gardens, and working on a variety of other projects to get fresh food to people who can't afford it.  There might be groups in your area too, or you could start one?

The other career I think looks really amazing is horticultural therapy.  I don't know if you've heard of this or have opportunities where you are, but this is a diploma program that then enables you to work with people with a variety of special needs using gardening to help them learn life skills and integrate into mainstream society.  In my area, google Providence Farm for an example.

I think the MG gardener program also asks you to put in a certain number of volunteer hours; that might give you a better idea of what opportunities are available in your area?  On the mainland and the island we have a variety of botanical gardens, experimental farms, large seed companies, small local seed companies, etc that might all be also worth exploring.

Although you might end up needing more than a MG certificate for a long term career in some of these areas, if you find the right network there are a lot of opportunities to learn on the job and develop a career over time.  If you're interested in larger-scale growing, there are likely farm internships that might be worth pursuing too.

Good luck!

Trudie

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Re: Gardener as a career?
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2015, 04:33:06 PM »
I'm a lapsed Master Gardener -- took the course and got a few things out of it, but I got tired of volunteering my time to it.  Community groups would call us up and want us to weed or do maintenance (to avoid the costs of paying labor).  I realized it was getting out of hand when I didn't have time to do my own stuff at home.  Also, you can't use the Master Gardener title to market your skills professionally.

I agree with the comments above about exploring Britain.  There is a tradition of gardening as a profession there.  I know the Royal Horticultural Society has courses.

There's not much pay for it in the U.S.  I've thought of hort as a second semi-retirement career, and if I were to do it I would go to a community college or vo-tech school and get a certificate or two year degree.  I would then choose certifications through a state landscape professionals association.  And then I would find someone to apprentice with.

Still, with that said -- gardening can be incredibly rewarding.  The community gardens movement is fascinating and exciting to me.

daverobev

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Re: Gardener as a career?
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2015, 07:42:37 PM »
I'd agree with others - look into interning at an organic farm. Then start your own.

Lots of stuff near me here, near the ON/QC border. Maybe 2 dozen small organic operations around Ottawa?

South Ontario is the 'best' for growing food but, of course, that won't be truly local. Best east of BC I guess, in Canada. Lots of wine grapes, tomatoes etc.