“I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day’s work.”
– Frank Lloyd Wright
This quote resonates with me. I have always been drawn to nature and the outdoors, and I love that my job as a gardener lets me work in nature a good part of the time.
Pursuing a career in the landscape industry opens up the whole outdoors to those of us who want an office with blue skies and great views. Check out the National Association of Landscape Professionals career website to learn more about the options available if you want a career that can make a difference in this growing industry.
Inspiring Gardener: Nicole Burke of Rooted Garden
I first connected with Nicole Burke on Instagram. Her positive energy is contagious. She is passionate about gardening and helping others learn to garden. Nicole’s social media following and influence have grown as that positive energy gives others the confidence to start their own garden.
Nicole Burke’s company Rooted Garden designs, installs, and maintains beautiful kitchen gardens for both residential and commercial clients in the Houston Area.
The mission of Rooted Garden “is to make the kitchen garden an ordinary part of life again by inspiring, educating, and providing exceptional materials and services.”
Nicole recently spoke with me about her business, and she shared the following:
How Nicole developed and started Rooted Garden
“I was enjoying my own backyard garden and started to receive requests from friends to help them begin and succeed on their own. My first thought was to sell products from my own garden, similar to a CSA, and actually named my business, ‘Rooted Garden Goods,’ to start. But, when talking with a friend, she encouraged me to focus more on sharing knowledge and helping others build gardens rather than simply sharing the ‘goods’ from my own. That was a lightbulb moment for me and helped me see that this could be a scalable business. At the time, I had no idea that this was an actual industry I was entering. So, I literally built the whole thing from scratch, starting first by helping DIY clients with coaching and materials, and eventually moving to full-scale, high level installations.”
Within one year, my business hit 6 figures and I was floored. What started as a thought to sell some bags of lettuce from my garden boxes turned into a true career that could fund my four children's activities, grow my retirement, and even purchase a new van (to carry all those plants, of course!).”
Why Nicole loves her job
“Hands down, my favorite part is receiving excited texts and photos from clients as they have new experiences in their gardens. Watching someone pull a carrot for the first time, see their first tomato grow, or make a dish from their harvest makes all the dirty work worth it. I’ve always had the desire to be an entrepreneur and have, I guess, been looking for that ‘lightbulb idea’ for years. The thing was, I knew I couldn’t grow a business if it wasn’t something I truly believed in. But kitchen gardens are one of those things that I can wholeheartedly endorse. Every single piece of this industry is good.”
- “The raised beds are beautiful, built locally, by artistic individuals who love their craft and are dedicated to making high quality products.
- The soil is made locally by hard-working men and women, reusing our city’s waste and turning it into life-giving compost.
- The plants are grown within 100 miles of the gardens by hard-working gardeners and farmers, some of whom are refugees making a new life here in the city.
- The gardens themselves help clients relax, enjoy their property more, and experience the miracle of watching seed become food.
- The harvests are natural and organic, with no harmful sprays or fertilizers, and they taste delicious. The gardens revive clients’ awe of each season’s unique flavors and the importance of eating locally.”
“I care about the process and the people working with me as much as I care about the final product. And the fact that this good work benefits both the clients and the individuals that work with Rooted Garden truly gets me out of bed each morning and makes all the pioneering work worth it.”
What Nicole has learned along the way
“The biggest lesson I’ve learned is the power of positive thinking in business. Every day brings new challenges and the organic garden is truly a dynamic thing. If I had a few dollars for every challenge we’ve faced, I would be a very rich woman. Though it sounds so cliche, I truly believe in the superpower of optimism. Believing that there’s a solution, believing that there’s a way, believing that you can handle the task at hand, these are the few skills you really need to succeed in any industry.”
“When I began Rooted Garden, most people looked at me sideways and as each new opportunity has presented itself, I've only had a few people in my corner cheering for me. But, I've been careful to listen most to that positive inner voice and push forward. And that has made all the difference.”
The hardest part of Nicole's job with Rooted Garden
“The hardest part of this job is the fact that almost every space needs customized plans and attention. Each client’s yard has a particular set of circumstances that needs a specific size, style and space for the garden. There’s a reason most food is not grown organically – it’s challenging. There are pests and slow growth and all sorts of trials.”
“My mom’s an interior designer and we’ve laughed together, noting that for her industry, the clients never call because the drapes are wilting or are covered in aphids. But the opposite is true for me. Organic gardens are dynamic and serving clients in response to that constant change is a true challenge. But, we are slowly developing systems that can handle these difficulties and we’re becoming a stronger company as a result.”
Nicole’s vision for the future of Rooted Garden
“As a result of Rooted Garden’s success, I began a new company last year called, Gardenary. Gardenary’s vision is to take the mission of Rooted Garden and spread it to other areas of the country and world through courses, ebooks, and training. Through Gardenary, I’ve begun the Kitchen Garden Coach Society, which trains other kitchen gardeners to build their own businesses just as I have. With over 35 gardeners in training and hundreds on the waiting list, it’s clear that this industry is on the rise. My vision for Rooted Garden is to be a national, if not worldwide, leader in this industry and an integral player in the local foods movement.”
"By the time my children are adults (about ten years from now), I want kitchen gardens to be a normal thing in every landscape again. And I know that Rooted Garden will be a vital part of that cultural shift. I'm humbled and honored to be part of this revolution.”
Are you feeling inspired? I know I am! Nicole’s vision and passion has helped her not only grow her garden but a thriving business as well. Nicole’s career and lifestyle is possible by pursuing a career in the landscape industry. Check out the National Association of Landscape Professionals career website to learn more about the options available in this growing field.