Saturday, January 23, 2021

We're looking for experienced greenhouse grower who is eager to keep learning

Take part in this expanding community-oriented farm

The following greenhouse/landscape design training turns into a paid opportunity potentially within two months depending on the participant’s level of experience and skill. The site of the program is M R Gardens, a sustainable nursery in the Oakley community of Asheville, NC. Please read this description to get a full picture of our business and the rationale for pairing nursery education with the job application process. Additionally this article explains how even experienced growers can gain from our educational programs.

If you're only interested in the training rather than the potential for income or a long-term position, go ahead and get in touch with us to see if our aspirations align.

We are seeking applicants who have at least some experience managing a small commercial nursery. We anticipate they'll oversee our greenhouse operation once their training is complete.

It’s recommended applicants have:

  • Worked in greenhouses for three years or more;
  • A familiarity with and commitment to organic greenhouse practices;
  • An interest in Southeastern native perennials;
  • An appreciation that there’s always more to learn in the field of growing;
  • A broad perspective that lends an ability to interact well with all types of people;
  • A knack for coordinating the logistics that go into running a small operation;
  • An eye for aesthetics in a naturalized landscape;
  • The flexibility to change course in the midst of an evolving business;
  • A grounded excitement for plant work, and a strong grasp of what’s realistic.

Our main greenhouse in July
Photos of M R Gardens on this page by Vickie Burick Photography

The main skill is coordination—keeping your eye on the ball as various people come in and out of the greenhouse, whether that be clients, students, helpers or others involved in building the business. While you won't be expected to take on these tasks until you have graduated from the training, it's good if you have a natural knack for management. You also need to get to know each of the plants’ requirements well—particularly their timing. In the meantime, you can refer to the spreadsheets we’ve created throughout the years, which includes dates of stratification and seeding, germination tips and other helpful information. Record-keeping is an important part of this job, as is keeping track of plant orders and reserving plants that have been pre-ordered. 

Be sure this description fits you, but also know you have others’ help in carrying out the tasks listed. After graduating from your training, it will likely land in your hands to make sure that the greenhouse stays at desirable conditions—which means opening and closing the vents at specific times depending on the outside environment. You won’t be the sole person involved in this task, but you need to be able to direct others to do so.

Our activities vary depending on the season, and we can construct a program that fits your schedule. The more you can participate, the more you get out of the program, but 2 to 5 hour per week is typically sufficient at the start of the training. We mostly focus on the greenhouse February through May, and the rest of the year, there are opportunities to develop landscape design clients. It helps if you already have a bit of design experience, but currently we are mainly focused on 250 square foot (or less) designs for clients who need help arranging plants from our nursery. We can teach you how to do so as long as you are very familiar with how each species has unique needs and aesthetic elements. If you already are a landscape designer, you'll likely appreciate the opportunity to be able to grow your own plants for your clients' designs.


Our first step in this process is surveying potential applicants. Our hope is to train someone to stay on board here so that they can have the experience of running a small nursery without taking on the full risk of owning a business. That said, the training can take many forms depending on your situation. Send your resume and an explanation of your interest to If it seems like a potential fit, we’ll discuss your availability, required hours, tuition and potential income. Cost of tuition varies depending on the skills and experience of the applicant, and we can assist you in running a crowd-sourcing campaign for the tuition if needed. Note that if you are chosen for an interview, the application process includes three 2-hour sessions in the greenhouse, and we also ask for a $50 application fee.

We anticipate your time here to be quite enjoyable—people love being at our farm. We care about our team—throughout the apprentice program, students and program leaders check in with each other for at least 15 minutes each month to make sure that all parties feel like their expectations are being met.

Thanks for considering this rare opportunity to be able to learn directly from a native plant grower.