I have finally found my niche and have made a decision. I've decided to become a Garden Coach. What exactly is a garden coach? It is not really difficult to define, but it is difficult for folks to understand. I am providing you with a link to a Garden Coaching blog by Susan Harris. Susan also had an article in this month's issue of Organic Gardening that describes more about what garden coaches do. But I am going to relay a short story to you (with permission of course) about garden coaches. I had the opportunity to visit with Skeeter, her husband the Saint, and Skeeter's parents recently. We met at a local German restaurant and shared some chit chat over schnitzel. When I told them all I was going to come out as a 'Garden Coach', Skeeter asked, "Now what is a garden coach?". Her mother, so charmingly looked across the table at Skeeter and said, "Someone who teaches you to garden, duh." I simply loved it! I sure wish she would join me at my presentation tomorrow night. I am scheduled to talk to about 75 local folks at the Master Gardener Mini Course. It is at this presentation I will be announcing my new vocation. Not new really, but now professional. I am sure I will get many questions so Skeeter's mother's response was right on!
I equate my chosen avocation to that of a house inspector-but I'll take it a bit further. You know how you wish to buy a new house and the realtor advises you get a home inspection? In fact, oftentimes now a days, home sales are contingent on the results of the home inspection. You hire some guy with a truck and a ladder, maybe a safety suit and a tape measure, and you pay him (usually a him) an exorbitant amount of money to come to your house where he spends about two hours inspecting your home, its exterior and interior elements. He flushes toilets, checks the heating and cooling system and so on. Then he heads back to his house and types up a report (if you are lucky he types it!), puts it in an envelope and sends it to you-the prospective home buyer. You read it and then try to decipher it's contents.
"Okay, my stove was manufactured in 1978 by Whirlpool and is a model 567, check. My heating temperature is right on, check. My exterior door casing is rotted, check-oops-gotta get that fixed."
You understand right? I do, I've paid for several home inspections and find the information most helpful; especially since the whole house is new to me. Most of the time it is money well spent. Well I will be running my garden coach business in a similar manner.
There will of course be a fee for my services, most likely a package deal just like home inspectors provide. I will come to your home and 'inspect' everything close up. I will not do this alone though, I will expect clients to walk with me and I will guide, advise, and evaluate as I walk through your garden. This initial session will last approximately 1.5-2 hours. All the while I'll be taking notes, pictures and most likely measurements. See the similarity to a home inspector here? I will then convene back to my home and type up my findings in an easy to read and understand report format. I will also include recommendations based on the client's needs, desires, and realistic capabilities. How will I determine these needs, desires, and capabilities?
It is pretty easy when doing any type of inspection or on site visit to determine quite quickly what type of homeowner the person is like. Is the homeowner diligent with cutting and trimming their lawn? Or is long, weedy and spotty at best? Are there existing plants? And if so, what condition are they in? Well trimmed, or yellowed and dying? I can determine fairly quickly the capabilities with an on site visit, but I also have to match that bit of the puzzle up with the homeowners desires. Just because they might not be the best gardeners, is there a real desire there? Perhaps the homeowner is new to the home and the garden is left over from the previous homeowner? Maybe even the homeowner is handicapped and will need methods of maintaining the garden that he or she can handle? These questions and more will be answered when a client contracts me for services and I send him or her an in depth survey to fill out. The survey will need to be completed prior to any on site visit so as to aid me in understanding the client. What happens next?
Once the survey is completed, the on site visit is completed, the report is typed up and finalized, I will, at the client's request, deliver the report to the client in their garden-resulting in another visit to the garden. Hey, we all know gardens change very rapidly-I can't tell you how much changes in my garden from the morning to the night-tons! So I can get another eyes on look at the client's garden and see if some of the measures we talked about in the initial consultation have made a difference. Once the report is delivered, I will be available for follow up sessions at a later date.
I expect I will be most busy during the spring and fall seasons, but gardening here in Tennessee can go on all year long. Winter or summer sessions for garden coach services are not out of the question.
I have taken the necessary steps to be approved to operate my business from home, I have the website, email, business license and business cards. I am also registered on a worldwide directory of garden coaches and am ready for business. My shingle is hung-finally!
I hope that in some small way, I can help spread my love of gardening around my community so that everyone can enjoy what nature has to offer. Garden coaching is a start for me, albeit a small start.
Contact information for me as a professional garden coach is pretty easy. Obviously you can contact me here. In fact, the blog and my business website will be linked. With over 600 posts with lots of good information and helpful to do lists for local folks, I hope everyone will use this blog for gardening information they can easily implement on their own. It is what it is here for-in addition to helping me to learn more about gardening, and of course enabling gardeners to connect with one another.
I have also set up my profile on Susan Harris' premiere garden coaching website. You can find me here. In case you forget how to get there, just pull up the Garden Coach Directory, search by state, pull up Tennessee, and there I am!
Additionally, I do have a professional email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. My business website is: www.coachinthegarden.com. Do check it out-now and each time you feel like it! I made it quite easy to remember and of course, you can see my motto there....
in the garden....
One more note, my co-posters and close friends and family were informed of my plan a few months ago. In case you are worried, this blog will not change. We have been posting for a very long time and I think readers have come to expect certain things from it, we will not waver from our commitment to this blog. Thanks to my co-posters encouragement and help on here, we will still post daily. Though I expect I will become more busy than I have been so we'll see how that affects my blogging. I will also be adding a link to the sidebar for the convenience of any readers who wish to access me professionally when they find they need garden coaching services.
I also must say a big hearty thank you to Helen Yoest of Gardening with Confidence. Without her encouragement and a big nudge for me to 'hang out my shingle', I might not have taken this huge step. I am grateful to her and to anyone who has ever read this blog and encouraged me in some small way in my gardening endeavors that means you!