Articles, Blog

Floriculture – Careers in Urban Agriculture

August 27, 2019

Todd Hurt: Hi. We’re here
with Jenny Hardgrave. She’s the owner of Simply
Flowers, Incorporated. Jenny works in the part of
the horticulture industry called floriculture. Jenny, would you describe what a
typical day is like for you in your job. Jenny Hardgrave: During
our busy season, when we’re planting the flowers,
we’d get up, we would load the trucks, get all the flowers ready and
we would come out, pull flowers, prep the beds and
plant the new flowers. Hurt: So, we’re sitting here in
front of Sugarloaf Country Club, obviously one of the most
pristine areas in Atlanta. You can see the mix of
colored plants around. Jenny, where do you get
your inspiration from? Hardgrave: I find inspiration in a lot
of different places. I like looking at what interior designers are doing,
what’s fashionable. I also like to go to nurseries
and see how to put different combinations together and
come up with new ideas. Hardgrave: When I was a little
girl, my dad and I would go to the nursery every Mother’s Day
and we’d pick out flowers for my mom’s planter boxes. I really
loved seeing how much joy that brought to my mom. I figured out
I could make a career of that and bring joy to hundreds, and even thousands,
of people in what I do for a living. Hardgrave: Right now we have ten people
in our staff and we take care of about three hundred properties. Our business is just flowers,but
we also use a lot of other materials. We use mulches. We use fertilizers.
So we’re relying on greenhouses. We’re relying on retail nurseries
as well as relying on the folks who bring in the hard goods
as well as the soft goods. We are an integral part of the
landscape, but we’re a niche market. We have to work closely with the
irrigation specialists and with the landscape specialists to make
sure the entire package is meeting the needs of our client. Hurt: I know you’ve been
past president of Metro Atlanta Landscape and
Turf Association as well as, you’re a member of the Georgia
Green Industry Association. Would you care to comment on
being involved in professional associations and how that has
benefited your business? Hardgrave: Being involved in a
professional association is absolutely key to the success
of any company and I believe any individual in this industry. I started with twelve clients and
now I have over three hundred. Hurt: Would certification such as the Georgia Certified Plant
Professional program go a long way in your book or the Georgia
Certified Landscape Professional? Hardgrave: I think any type of
professional certification makes an employee a better employee.
It shows that people are genuinely interested in the industry.
It shows that people have the dedication to complete a program
that is not easy and it just proves their diligence. Hardgrave: In horticulture,
any classes that you take in horticulture are wonderful, but
when it’s time to get a job, be realistic and be ready to start
in an entry level position. If you start as a supervisor
on a crew, you’re going to learn so much more that is going to
enhance your book learning and it’s going to prepare you for
a management position and even ownership later on. Those entry level positions are
vital for building your workforce. Hurt: Good advice would be to do
some summer internships. Get that experience. Hardgrave: Absolutely. An
internship is also going to tell you if this is the right career
for you. You learn so much during hands-on experience
with horticulture. It also lets your staff know
later that you have done that work and you can
train them better. Hurt: So Jenny, you obviously have
a great taste for color and know how to mix things. Did you…
we’re you an artist in school? Did you enjoy art and how did you
learn to work with the color pallet? Hardgrave: I did a lot of art classes
when I was in junior high and high school. So, I learned
all about the color wheel. I learned how to put color and
textures together and I look at my job as living artwork. Hurt: Fantastic.

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