Almost no one gets into the green industry because they want to be rich. There are many other careers where making a lot of money is more likely, and with a whole lot less effort.
No, most get into growing and selling plants because they have a passion. A passion for plants, a passion for the open and nurturing community they discover within the industry, or a passion for contributing in a substantial way to the local economy and culture.
Yet we have an annual work rhythm that I think threatens to steal the joy we find in our industry.
Spring is an exciting, fast-paced endurance test. Summer is the equivalent of the slow jog after a run, a time to slow down but not give up. Those with a year-round business gear back up in fall with festivals and holiday events and sales.
Only in the coldest months of January to March is there an opportunity to step back, detach from the business for a while, and then come back with renewed energy.
More and more people, however, are looking at the dismal finances from those months, and are doing what they can to make those months more profitable.
The most successful stories I’ve heard so far have been those who have winter farmers’ markets or who launched some other type of food-related business.
That’s a smart business move. But I don’t think adding more work, even profitable work, to the only time of year when you can recharge is wise. Unless, that is, you shift how you work the rest of the year, as well.
Frankly, I’ve always thought working seven days a week, 12 hours a day throughout the spring undermined the future of our industry. Who can sustain that pace? And why would their children ever want to be part of that kind of crazy life?
I get it. I’ve got workoholic tendencies, myself. But I also know that if I force myself to leave work at a reasonable time, if I resist doing work on my days off, I love my work a lot more.
Sure, there are unavoidable times when I have to work 14 hour days (OK, sometimes longer). But if I let myself slip into an unreasonable work pattern, I begin flirting with burnout. And once you reach that point, it’s a long road back to loving what you do, if you ever come back.
So take the time to share ideas with your peers, to plan strategies where you work less for a bigger payoff, sell more plants, and ultimately, keep your passion for growing and selling plants burning for years to come.