Moving to a Sustainable Career
I'm done with construction safety engineering. I've tried on and off to work in my old field, but as the world slowly collpases I doubt any of that work will be coming back. I am, instead, using my experience as a consultant to start an agriculture/permaculture consulting firm that will help urban and suburban property owners to grow food. To that end I am credentialing myself. I am registered for a $300 class that will get me a Master Gardener certificate and, after some volunteer work and an exam, the title "Master Gardener" from Clemson University, SC's agricultural extension hosting college. I then plan to chip away at a certificate in horticulture from the hub of Southeastern sustainable agriculture: NC State University (they accepted me but it's like $12,000 and I am not going into debt for that.) Once that's done I intend to get LEED Green Associate credentials.
At this point I am monitoring (taking for no credit) NC State Univerity's "Intro to Permaculture" class; I'm up to lecture 18. I'm starting to learn how to use a landscaping 2D drawing program. I chose a free trial of GardenCAD, which will only cost $159 for the software if I choose it and wll at least taeche me the basics of using vectors. I am writing a business plan, and setting up a consultation with my local SCORE office for mentoring. The tentative name of my start-up is "SC Grow Food @Home."
I cannot tell you how energizing it is to be working on something for the new, post-oil economy than from the old economy. I will keep you posted on my progress here from time to time.
This is something you are interested in and I think you will do well with it.
When I was looking for sustainable agriculture classes near where I live I could only find Clemson and a program at UGA in Athens. Both are too far for me to commute every day.
I tried to enter the Master Gardener program here, but it was all about flower gardens. The volunteer/internship would have been park maintenance. Not what I was looking for.
We do love your garden tips that you give us for free, Wendy.
Wishing you the best,
I think you might be able to take the Clemson Master Gardener Class online in GA. It's only $300. We do a lot of vegetable gardens for schools as our volunteer work.
Thank you. I'll check it out.
Congrats on jumping into a new field. This summer I'm also digging into Permaculture with Geoff Lawton's first online course. I've been a hobby gardener for a few years now getting the nack of putting food on tthe table. Now I'm looking at doing a similar idea to yours. I like the master gardener approach, especiallly since the volunteer hours needed also keep you in touch with lots of people you can draw from. This sounds like step two for my plan.
Along with my course I'm reading a book that sets my deeper compass in a similar direction–"Small Is Beautiful" by Schumacher. I highly recommend it.
BTW–thanks for the suggestions on hot climate plants you sent my way last week.
Well, it's been a busy couple of weeks here. I've had some startup expenses, but nowhere near what it would cost to get a college degree. Busienss cards were cheap and now my potential clients have something to take home with them from the Farmer's Market. And I have my first paying client!
Licensing and online credentialing is the way to go for anything that does not require hands-on apprenticeship! I found a much cheaper option for the certificate in hortiulture and landscape design, through a local school called Midlands Technical College. Courses are $169 each, not $1,200 each like NC State, and it's through their business and continuing ed program. The total cost is around $1,500 for my certificate. It's not a degree, it's all practical knowledge. My first class starts Sept 4. (I hope I can figure out how to buy the $15 textbook online, but it's proving to be a pain.) I also paid $300 for the upcoming SC Master Gardener course, which starts later in September.
I filed for a name change for my safety engineering LLC to the new business name, SC Grow Food @ Home, LLC. That cost $110. I'm having a tech-savvy friend make me up some official stationery with a letterhead I can use to ask for coupon codes from various onine retailers of gardening thing, plants, and seeds, and you can bet I will share any discounting information that might be applicalble to the gardeners here at Peak Prosperity.
I've been negotiating with the local library, Lowes and the county to do seminars. The county has already taken me up on doing a seminar in French Double-Digging. Lowes and the library are just waiting for my request on letterhead.
It's great to hear that you're making such forward progress in your career transition. Thanks for sharing your learnings along the way and for serving as an inspiration to the many folks I assume are following your journey, impressed by your courage to pursue the dream of an "authentic career" that you're in full control of.
Good luck landing Lowes and the library. And please continue to keep us all updated!
It's really energizing to work on this, and working toward a goal cuts way back on the sort of trapped feeling his economy lays on us all. Hand-wringing, blame shifting, name calling and despair are not good problem-solving techniques for not having employment. Do something about it, as much as you can, and even if it does not work out, you learn something.
Here is a TED TALK on the subject.
What does he say makes you a success? Passion, hard work, practice, focus, pushing yourself, serving others something of value, have new ideas, being persistent,
- Passion? Yeah. I love where Richard St. John says successfu people are not "workaholics," they love what they do; they're "workafrolics."
- Hard work? "If you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life" only goes so far. Sometimes it's just putting one foot in front of another, or showing up.
- Practice? That's that old learning curve. A baseball player works on his batting, a golfer works on his swing, a knitter, chef, gardener, salesperson or teacher gets better with practice. Why should this world pay you for, "Eh." Usually, they pay you for, "Wow!"
- Pushing yourself? You'd better believe I am pushing myself outside of my comfort zone to go out in 100-degree summer heat to water my garden, or brave mosiquitoes to weed in the cool of the evening or morning. I'm pushing myself to talk to places about seminars and ask suppliers for discounts. It does not come naturally to me, but I want people to be able to feed themselves more reliably. (See passion, above.)
- Serving others something of value? Always good. Just make sure they pay you for it; that's what supporting yourself is all about.
- Have new ideas? Check.
- Persistence? Richard St. John says you have to persist through failure* and "CRAP" – Criticism, Rejection, Assh#les, and Pressure. I had to go through that to become a heavy construction safety engineer so I know that road. (**So I will post about my failures here, too. )
I'm 58. Time to reinvent myself for the new economy. How about you all?
Wow! I too am looking towards permaculture for a new career, although in the Northwest. There are several ways to learn this, but I'm waiting until we move to start courses. Go for it!
I just got back from a long vacation rip to visit friends and relatives in the Northeast USA. On checking my email was surprised by my first two requests for franchises of my business, from Master Gardeners in Pennsylvania. My business model always envisioned franchising as a way to get this information out, and I envisioned trying to get Master Gardeners in other areas and states as my franchisees, but this is much earlier than I expected.
Still, the base model for other states to adapt is done, except for a PowerPoint presentation I am working on. I have the routine of a sales pitch, a logo, and the client visits perfected: basic prep for a visit, the routine of a walk-through, all the supporting documents (regional gardening fact sheet, kitchen garden plant recommendation checklist, edible landscaping plant recommendation checklist), soil sampling procedures and follow-up all good to go – for my region. Now I have to decide on how much to charge for franchises, which will be based on the man hours it takes to adapt the system to a new location/climate and any legal fees to restructure the business' legal entity. I am scheduling a visit with my local SCORE office to talk about such things.
Seize the day.