Putting Plants and People Together
Like many fortunate souls, I got into horticulture because I love plants. Enjoying the work definitely makes long days more satisfying. Being excited to bring the benefits of healthy and attractive plants into the lives of the people around me is a great gig each day. Making a living is a wonderful result of getting to do this work each day.
My needs are simple. I am always inquisitive and eager to learn, travel and grow, but this work keeps me right in mid-Michigan most of the year. I don’t own a second home, a timeshare or a boat. I have to have enough to pay the bills, buy plants for my own garden, and eat, but other than the growing cannabis industry, people don’t get into this work of growing or caring for plants to become wealthy.
What do plants really do, anyway? The building blocks of life as humans- oxygen available in the air we breathe- comes courtesy of plants. From the lawn and landscape outside your window, to the Pothos on your desk, plants literally make oxygen, and at the same time, remove toxins and contaminates from the air we breathe.
Trees are especially effective in this process, churning out literally tons of measurable oxygen and processing out tons of CO2. If you have a property with trees, you are helping your whole neighborhood to breathe. Of course, there is the important fact that everything we eat is a plant (or fungus) or an animal that ate plants.
Indoors, we have a wealth of research documenting that plants clear indoor air, reduce absenteeism in workplaces with plants, increased creativity, and sense of well-being and productivity of people in offices, malls, healthcare, manufacturing, living spaces and hospitality.
So why would pricing have to go up? Two main factors are putting pressure on our pricing. Plant supply and demand is out of sync both in the landscape and interiorscape. Landscape trees, especially, were not planted for production at normal levels back during the recession, and some of those items have a 5-7 year lead time to produce. Growers with trees for sale can command higher prices now. In Florida, the hurricane damaged many nursery crops and took some nurseries out of production entirely. Many plants are not available, especially large specimens, and those that are available cost more, a lot more now than last year.
Labor, especially skilled labor, is hard to find and key to retain. We pride ourselves on finding, training and retaining good, skilled, friendly people. That means paying more each year, along with providing benefits and ongoing training to make each employee as skilled, well-integrated and effective as possible. We have added several pieces of equipment, a building, and more vehicles to leverage our skilled labor and maximize our productivity. Even so, we find ourselves below market on our hourly rate and forced to look at pricing after three years at our current rates.
Ironically, as we have been researching the local market, we seem to be among the last to raise our prices. Then again, we do this work because we love putting plants and people together. I remain confident that the value we provide is high, and the care we put into the work is abundant. We love serving you.