share-your-story

Seven years ago I was a waitress at a restaurant. I had a degree and probably could have gotten a “regular” job, but I couldn’t stomach working 8-5 every day and only having two weeks of vacation per year. Life is too short to sit in an office all day, blowing my money at the restaurant because I’m too tired to cook, and biding time until the weekend.

What I really loved to do was to garden. I would work hard in my garden all day long and then try to scrub the dirt out from beneath my fingernails before I went to work for the evening. I loved creating beautiful gardens where there was once only grass. I loved being outside in the fresh air and sunshine. And I loved eating the wonderful produce from my garden.

After a while it became apparent that work was getting in the way of my gardening and of me enjoying cooking and eating my own vegetables. Furthermore, while I loved the place where I worked, it wasn’t very fulfilling for me to serve food night after night. I felt like I had more to contribute to the world. I was also about ready to start a family and couldn’t bear the thought of leaving a new baby to go to work.

So I made up my mind to create a business out of my passion for gardening. I didn’t think I could grow enough food to sell, and doing gardens for other people would be slow and take me out of mine, so I decided that teaching would be the most effective way to earn money and help others grow food.

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At first, I really resisted teaching. I didn’t think I knew enough and I was super nervous to get up in front of people. What if people asked me questions I didn’t know? I wasn’t even sure people would pay for gardening knowledge.

For a few years I tried teaching workshops. It was really challenging to be constantly advertising and then people would sign up but not come! There was only a short window in the spring when people seemed to be looking for gardening workshops. Additionally, I found that most people were having the most basic challenges with their gardens.

What they really needed was a start-to-finish garden course. They needed all the information on how to start and plan their garden, how to keep it up, and how to get the most out of it. So I designed a six-month-long course that met every-other week. This gave me enough time to teach them all the lessons as well as for them to implement them. I made it hands-on in the garden so that people could see what was going on and experience it for themselves.

It was slow to start. I had only 6 people the first year. But every one of them finished the course and loved it. I started developing handouts to give out at each class. The following year I had a full class and then I had 3 full classes!

I loved it! I found teaching to be really rewarding. The students were really enthusiastic about what they were learning, and their gardens were amazing! It was wonderful to get to know my students and for them to get to know each other. I taught in the evenings when my husband could be with the kids or took the kids with me.

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On top of it all, I was earning really good money for the time I was putting in as well as growing food for my family. I was able to quit my job, I didn’t have to pay for child care, and I got to spend idyllic days in the garden with my kids. I wasn’t rich in money, but I was rich in time and great food, and experiences.

 

It worked so well for me that I thought other people would love it too. I decided to turn my curriculum into a blueprint for others to have their own business. There must be other passionate gardeners out there who want to earn extra money teaching gardening.

I have a vision of a network of teachers across the nation and around the world, helping people grow their own healthy, affordable produce. I see gardens in every yard, garden classes as common as fitness classes, and people everywhere going crazy about growing food.

Do you see it too?

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