Saturday, March 01, 2008

Dancing hummingbirds

I was sitting outside in the sunshine yesterday morning. I realized that spring is finally here. the humming birds (the campus is overflowing with them) sang courting songs to each other then playfully chased their chosen mate around the quad.

I was thinking about my future. My recent illness has forced me to reconsider my goals. Stressful and annoying as it is, it could also be an opportunity.

I'm now limited to what I an do work wise: I cannot spend much time around chemicals, cleaning products or printed materials. If this is permanent or temporary, I don't know. But there are all sorts of things I can do and that I enjoy doing. This might open up all sorts of options that I did not consider before.

So, I was thinking, what would be my ideal job for the summer? I need something that would bring in just a little bit of extra income to support my fibre and yarn addiction. I could apprentice myself to an organic farm (which I would enjoy immensely) or I could learn how to be a technical editor (I'm picky and fastidious enough to be good at it, especially when you consider that one of my favorite activities is to go through a knitting pattern with a calculator to see if they got the math right - yep, I'm just that weird). I suppose I even have a decent skill at writing (even if my blog only displays the most informal and casual of writing styles I know). I would love to do a little bit of each of these things, like a smorgasbord of things to keep me active.

But you know, if I had my druthers, I would do something almost completely different. I have no idea how I would go about marketing this, especially since I wouldn't want to do it for more than a few households; but boy, oh boy, I already know I'm good at it. I know I enjoy it more than anything else (yes, even more than yarn itself). So what is this amazing idea you ask?

Picture this, you have a yard and have always desired to grow your own fresh organic vegetables and fruit. But you are a busy executive, or perhaps you travel a lot. For some reason you haven't the time to create, level on maintain a garden. That's where I'd come in.

I could hire myself out to create and maintain an organic vegetable garden (and/or orchard). I could sit down with the person over a cuppa tea and discuss with them what sort of vegetables they enjoy, then scout out the best location in their yard in accordance with their desires. The initial set up would be the largest expense, but it would depend entirely on how big a garden, the info-structure, &c. they desire. But the maintenance and the labour wouldn't cost much after that. Agree on how often per week they would like their vegetables picked and delivered to their kitchen and if they want to have an automated watering system or to pay me to water by hand (a slightly more eco-friendly approach). Of course, I would attend the compost for them, not to mention all the little details of pest management and propagation. They would get all the fresh vegetables and fruit from their garden with non hassle and all of the 'feel good about yourself for doing a good thing for the environment'. By eating absolutely local food (from your own back yard), you eliminate the damage done by shipping food produce long distance. Work out the money cost and I think it would come out to be about the same price as buying organic produce in the shops.

You see, I'm really good at this sort of thing: setting up and maintaining organic back yard vegetable gardens and small mixed fruit orchards. I have been doing this most of my life. I just don't know if anyone out there would be interested. Is this something I could sell? Would anyone actually be interested in this? What sorts of people would have the income to afford this service? If this sort of person does exist, how do I find them? I wouldn't want a huge number, 2 to 5 households would be a nice, comfortable start. How would I market it to show that it would esthetically pleasing as well as functional? I think it would be important to make the garden look like a beautiful artwork.

Anyway, it's a pipe dream I suppose. It would be easy to implement once I had a client, but I have no idea how to get to that stage.


Marigold said...

What a wonderful idea! I love the gardening, but, i have to admit, i'm not very good at keeping up with the chores.

For advertising, probably the best way would be by word-of-mouth. Tell everybody you know that you're going to be doing this this summer. Tell casual acquaintances, people at organic food stores, post signs at local cafes/bakeries/coffeeshops.

And, if I was thinking about hiring you, I'd want a few examples of your work. Maybe pictures of older gardens that you've created, maybe a detailed plan for an example garden/orchard.

this is really such a cool idea! I wish I could do something similiar. Keep posting what you do with it, please :)

TinkingBell said...

How fabulous - great for you and your client!

Josiane said...

That's a wonderful idea! I'm sure there are quite a few people out there (probably more than you can handle) who would be interested in such a service. I'm sorry I don't have much practical advice on how to find them - besides the usual "think outside of the box" - but getting the word out here is already a start.
Oh, wait, I've got an idea! If there are CSA farmers in your area, contact them asking if they have a waiting list for people they couldn't take in for the coming summer. I, for one, decided a bit too late last year that I wanted to buy a share from the local CSA farmer, and all the available spots had been filled already. I'm sure a few of those waitlisted people would really appreciate your service!
Good luck!