Becoming A Garden Mentor: Giving Back By Garden Coaching

Becoming A Garden Mentor: Giving Back By Garden Coaching

By: Nikki Tilley, Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden
Image by DragonImages

Are you interested in sharing your garden skills while giving back to your community? Gardeners are some of the most giving people out there. In fact, most of us were born to nurture. Think of all those young plants we’ve grown from seeds on into maturity, caring for them meticulously along the way. You can put these natural care-giving tools and knowledge to good use by taking it one step further – by cultivating, or mentoring, another gardener.

What is a Garden Mentor?

A garden mentor, or coach, is a basic term for someone that helps educate another gardener, young or old, on how to become better gardeners. They are there to point you in the right direction, show you how to get started, what to plant, and how to care for the garden.

You may wonder how this differs from landscape designers and if becoming a garden mentor is the same thing. Rest assured, they are completely different.

What Do Garden Mentors Do?

With garden coaching, you’re provided with one-on-one mentorship and guidance on how to accomplish particular gardening tasks. You receive help from someone who is experienced and knowledgeable about garden plants, including those well suited to your particular climate, and tips on how to plant and care for them.

Garden mentors encourage fellow gardeners to get their hands dirty by allowing them to do all the work while cheering them on and “coaching” them through.

Landscaping professionals, on the other hand, are specifically hired to do landscape work in the garden. You may have some input into what work is to be done but do not actually perform these tasks yourself.

How to be a Garden Mentor

Most people looking to pursue garden coaching have extensive knowledge in gardening – they may have studied horticulture or landscape design, or may even be a Master Gardener. While formal education isn’t always required, garden mentors should, at the very least, have experience working within the horticultural field in some aspect.

This could include landscape architecture, garden design, greenhouse management, garden retail or the like. You should also have a passion for plants and a desire to share your interest with others.

Garden coaching is a great way to help anyone new to gardening learn the basics. But even experienced gardeners can benefit from valuable feedback on new garden projects or ideas. After all, fellow gardeners are often happy to help out and enjoy pointing others in the right direction.

Most garden coaches come to the client and are far less expensive than hiring a landscaper. They also have the added benefit of passing along their expertise. It’s a good field to get into but you don’t necessarily have to charge for this service. There are a number of ways you could volunteer your time to mentor another budding garden, especially a child.

You could become involved with local school gardens and mentor children just starting out. Join or start a community garden and teach others how to grow and care for their plants. If you’d prefer not to travel, you could join gardening communities online providing mentorship to others and sharing your knowledge with answers to questions and tips for gardeners.

Oftentimes, community mentorship programs are available for those interested in applying, each with their own set of requirements. Check with your local extension office, garden club, botanical garden or Master Gardeners’ chapter to find more information.

Becoming a garden mentor starts with experience but ends with a sense of satisfaction.

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