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I want to work with plants.

 
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I made a mistake and invested in a career that no longer appeals to me. I went to culinary school and after working in kitchens for over 10 years I realized I do not want the life of a chef. I am not opposed to working for my money, but they seem to want to stick you on salary and work you 50-70 hours a week. The only way to make real money is to be a complete slave to the kitchen. So I got out, the past few years have been me having a job that was simply "not cooking" which is horrible, but I had no real direction. Last year I discovered permaculture and I am totally in love. I am working on my own garden and loving it. I am fascinated by soil, microbes, and fungus. I have realized it wasn't just the kitchen that I hated - it was all the mass produced garbage we were pumping out. Even when I worked fine dining I had to justify a ridiculous food price because something was local and organic? Meaning we did less to it, it came from somewhere close and it is somehow more expensive? This is not what I signed up for.

Now to my point and I hope I posted this in the right forum. I want your advice on where I should look for work. Obviously I would love to get down and dirty and go WOOFing to get experience by I have a child on the way, and half my money goes towards student loans. I need to make at least 2K a month and regrettably I have no professional gardening experience. Where should I start? Sorry again if this is the wrong place to post this, I'm not sure where else would be appropriate.
 
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Dougan Nash wrote: Even when I worked fine dining I had to justify a ridiculous food price because something was local and organic? Meaning we did less to it, it came from somewhere close and it is somehow more expensive? This is not what I signed up for.



Ah, but now you know how the restaurant business works and how to supply them. What can you grow that will be in high demand and pay you for the time you put into it? I've sold to ethnic restaurants, partly because their needs are often overlooked by Big Ag. Ideally, it would be a crop that you can keep producing year round, with adequate winter protection. Fresh herbs and greens are things where if you have a quality product, you will have ready buyers.
 
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Location: Sacramento, CA
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Read the above post over and over.

Then start saving for a house if you don't already have one. Use Zillow to search for houses with large lots, its amazing what you can find sometimes.

Start gardening wherever you are, garden your neighbors yard or that vacant lot down the street.

And you are not going to find many real farmers who are going to see 50-70 hours a week as onerous, farming takes a lot of work, especially if you add in animals.

Another thought is keep your day job and start finding some places to do some underground, flashmob style guerrilla dinners. Check out Meetup.com and if you do own a house, start renting out a room on airbnb.com
 
Dougan Nash
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I guess I should have been more clear in what I was asking. I am looking for a new career involving plants and was asking for career suggestions. The end goal isn't always to be a farmer here and if it was, it will be some time before I am self-employed. My debt sucks, and I won't go into it but my wife and I make X and our loans take X/2. There is no way to get rid of student loans aside from paying them off and thanks to criminal interest rates- that goal seems impossible as well. Having said that I think buying a house with a large lot, or furthering my debt at all would be a horrible financial move. I just want career suggestions, thank you.
 
pollinator
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Location: 18 acres & heart in zone 4 (central MN). Current abode: Knoxville (zone 6 /7)
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John Elliott wrote:
Ah, but now you know how the restaurant business works and how to supply them. What can you grow that will be in high demand and pay you for the time you put into it? I've sold to ethnic restaurants, partly because their needs are often overlooked by Big Ag. Ideally, it would be a crop that you can keep producing year round, with adequate winter protection. Fresh herbs and greens are things where if you have a quality product, you will have ready buyers.



I think John has a good point. You know restaurants, you presumably have a network and acquaintances in the business. It seems like this is something to build on as you shift. You probably have a much better idea than many permaculture people who the chefs in your area are, what they want and how they want it. If you don't want to do all growing yourself, I bet over time there may be room for an expert consultant on selling to restaurants for growers and on sourcing food for restaurants. With some experience as a grower and getting to know growers, you might be that expert. That would take time to develop, but it seems like career shifts aren't usually quick and easy.

The debt issue is a tough one. You might want to look into Dave Ramsey. Not that I agree with everything he says but he has a solid approach to dealing with debt. You can get his main ideas for free on the internet or in one of his books from the library.
 
chip sanft
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Location: 18 acres & heart in zone 4 (central MN). Current abode: Knoxville (zone 6 /7)
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Dougan Nash wrote:I guess I should have been more clear in what I was asking. I am looking for a new career involving plants and was asking for career suggestions.


Jobs other than grower... Ideas: Florist. Herbalist. Chem-free landscaping services. Arborist. Coop grocery staff / management. But even the most conservative -- perhaps landscaping, many otherwise sane people seem willing to pay for someone else to manage the lawn -- isn't going to generate a quick career, I don't think. It'll take time and determination.
 
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