After listening to Sara Morrison of the Backyard Grocery give her presentation on seed starting Saturday, I had a chance to ask her about her business. She is one of a growing number of “garden coaches,” people who help others start or maintain their gardens. Coaches are not landscape designers, though most have a flair for design. And, they aren’t gardeners-for-hire either, though some do hands-on work for clients who do not have time for it. Some, like Sara, concentrate on vegetable gardens, while others work in ornamental gardens.
Most coaches act as mentors and advisers to their clients — sort of like the wise neighbor we would all like to have. In addition, some provide tools, raised beds, plants and other garden necessities. Apparently, the business is growing. Sara started her business last spring and expected to have about five clients (she has a full-time job as well) but ended up with 30! Most of those clients will be back this year, too. She says arrangements with coaches vary. For some clients, she has a weekly appointment to look over the garden, “kind of like a piano lesson.” Others get help setting up the garden and buy plants from Sara; others she assists by providing information on harvesting and preserving food. Most coaches also do other garden-related work, such as teaching classes, blogging, or writing about gardening.
The field appears to be growing nationally as well. Last spring, Organic Gardening published an article on coaching; there is a garden coaches blog, which includes a list of garden coaches, including one from Minnesota. For more about garden coaching, check out articles here and here.