Job - Garden Care Professional

David Trammel's picture

As I'm just about to head into semi retirement, as talked about in this recent blog post "Time To Walk The Talk - My Own Personal Collapse" and I'm considering options for a bit of non-conventional income.

I came across this article:

The New Servant Class - “Wealth work” is one of America’s fastest-growing industries. That’s not entirely a good thing.

Which discusses how the well to do salary class is now hiring its own domestic servants, though they don't live in the manor like in "Downton Abbey" yet still cater to the moneyed Elites need to have personal needs meet.

I'm projecting a timetable of a move to my sisters and a moving out of my current Duplex apartment around July 2020. That would be right in the middle of gardening season. I still plan on planting vegetables next year and when I move don't really plan on tearing up my current raised beds just to sod over them.

I wonder if I can't talk the landlord into advertising the current apartment as a "Eco-Apartment"?

(Ok that tag line sucks, lol)

But the idea would be a apartment that has an already established garden where you can walk out and pick fresh veggies AND will be maintained much like your lawn by an outside professional. Maybe get the landlord to raise the asking price on rent by $50 to cover my expenses. I would think that a lot of young couples with children would jump at the idea of having a eco-friendly apartment and not mind the slightly higher cost.

It would be a bit more personal than your lawn care guy in that the person would see me in their back yard 3-4 times a week and meet me a lot but then who is more friendly and non-threatening than an old white guy grandfather type with dirt on their hands holding a big bowl of fresh veggies knocking at your door? I'm already planning on getting my "Master Gardener" certificate from the Botanical Garden next year. And I have the Green Wizards' website as street cred on the sustainable front.

What other "credentials" do you think would be helpful to sell this? And do you think this could be marketed successfully? I could pick and choose my clients and charge an upfront fee to install raised beds using the concrete bricks I favor. Perhaps a deposit on them if the client drops the service or demands I remove them and re-sod the lawn.


Here in Salt Lake, there is/was( I think she is still around) one market gardener that rented the backyards of willing people for a share of the produce. Or perhaps she pays a modest amount to cover the cost of the water. I think there are also non-market gardeners that will set up and maintain a raised bed garden for a fee, but I don't know what that would be.

As far as I know, there are no credentials required, but the Master Gardener cert can't hurt. You could show pictures of your garden as a marketing technique to bring in customers. Maybe an endorsement from your landlord or neighbor (if you shared vegetables with them) would also be useful. A little homemade gate fold brochure with garden pictures that you could pass out to people in your sister's neighborhood might help. Especially with a door to door delivery by you so people can meet the gardener.

Good luck. Sounds like nice work.

SLClaire's picture

Growing for Market has reported on some urban farmers who rent backyard space and pay the backyard owner in a share of the vegetables grown. Might be worth joining for long enough to check out their back issues.

Justin Patrick Moore's picture

It reminds me of a CSA... but with the food being grown on the customers site, instead of you bringing it to them.

My wife is a chef at a private montessori school. She runs the lunch program. The past few years they have also hired a farmer to do a gardening program with the kids (it's a pre-school-6th grade school). Some of that food gets used by my wife to feed the kids -though really the seasonality of it doesn't work out that well. Sure, they could grow some more fall/winter crops, but they haven't gotten there yet.

Doing a gig like this for a private or upscale school might be a way to earn some money too. And perhaps they'd also let you keep some of the produce too as Kay and Claire mentioned. Poor schools might get in on it too, especially further down the staircase -and there a worker might be repaid in kind or with a portion of the crop.

David Trammel's picture

In another thread I mentioned come across a way to manufacture low cost and durable concrete raised bed walls which are modular. Here is a picture of them.

They can be made in just about any length, though the creator does three, 24", 36" and 48". They can be used in any sort of custom setup.

Seems to me to be a great way to further the idea of a garden professional service because you could easily set a raised bed up in a customer's backyard in a short period of time. You could also remove it within a similar short time, though the dirt pile left might be a pain to dig up. Maybe put a clause in your contract that the dirt isn't your problem, lol.

They could be stored in a small space and would not see any rot or warpage like wood panels will sometimes get from moisture over a long time. You could also manufacture unique sizes if you had a particular odd ball backyard. Even a corner L shaped garden too. Notice the longer ones in the background. You could even provide them in colors or decorate the side inserts (say with a Green Wizard logo?). Might even be a side market of delivering the panels and setting the bed up for the customer to manage instead. Maybe a Farmer's market table?

Video is here:

mountainmoma's picture

If you do this out west, the main reason we use raised beds is to keep gophers out, so is there a way to securely attach gopher wire to such ? When using wood, we use galvanized hardware cloth, have the raisde bed fram upside down, lay it across and hammer in staples every 2 inches all the way around the perimeter. Gophers will nose their way in if it is not fully secured, then off course put in place wire side down and fill.