M R Gardens is a sustainable nursery and ecologically landscaped farm in the Oakley community of Asheville, NC. We primarily grow native perennials for sale, as well as complementary plants such as groundcovers and medicinal herbs. We are a community-oriented business, usually selling direct to customers. They can reserve their plants by emailing us, ordering at our online store, or attending one of our periodic plant shows held at the farm. We open ordering ahead of the season so that customers can be sure to get the varieties they'd like. We also offer coaching services in ecological methods to home and professional gardeners, and help clients create landscape designs with the plants from our nursery.

Megan Riley, Owner of M R Gardens. Photos on this page by Vickie Burick Photography.

The two-acre farm has native flower gardens, naturalized slopes, swales to hold rainwater in the landscape, orchards/forest gardens, and vegetable beds, built in a way that encourages beneficial microbes, which are essential for healthy plants. We practice innovative techniques that we've picked up in the last 20+ years from many sources that are ahead of their time.

We offer trainings that often turn into opportunities for income or long-term positions. Because M R Gardens is a small, one-of-a-kind nursery and educational farm, we are seeking creative solutions as we try to keep up with the increasing demand for native plants and garden coaching. Our preference is to hire folks who have participated in our educational programs. While we certainly look forward to hearing what you bring to the table, this business is so unique that it’s rare that previous jobs would prepare someone adequately to immediately work here. Furthermore, the very nature of propagation makes it a multi-year learning process as we often only have two or three chances to get it right in one growing season so there is risk in bringing on newcomers.

Note that running an expanding business while also mentoring new growers is indeed a juggling act for us, so we are looking for flexible, supportive and understanding applicants who already have an adequate amount of professional experience to thrive in a work environment. Education is a key element of M R Gardens and one of the foundations of the business, so we are committed to figuring this out.

Our greenhouse operator and landscape design trainings can last from two months to two years depending on the applicant’s experience, so we may be able to help you with a crowd-sourcing campaign to raise funding for tuition. Since we have been growing high quality, sustainably grown plants for sale since 2011, we have many devoted, long-term customers who are likely willing to contribute to see this business succeed. Cost of tuition varies depending on the skills and experience of the applicant.

Megan Riley is the trainer these programs

Over the years, we have paired complementary services with the nursery so that we can stay committed to our value of sustainability, while also producing high quality plants and creating a rejuvenating workplace. Throughout the last 10 years of incremental growth, the enterprise has remained manageable so that it doesn't becomes a burden. It’s never boring, and minimally stressful—most of the time. It is possible to run a successful business and keep the stress manageable if the grower has a high level of skill in both propagation and management. Our goal is to keep this work enjoyable, even as the business grows, because we believe this care transfers to the plants and to the customers. That does not mean that this work is always relaxing—it takes diligence, focus and commitment on every level, including internal/personal work, to be able to achieve almost any significant goal in life.

Currently we are seeking a greenhouse operator and landscape designer. Our preference is to first train an advanced grower, as described here, but if you are a beginner with a green thumb, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Update July 2022: Most of the inquiries for this training program thus far would probably be best described as being at the intermediate level. They have some propagation experience, but have never managed a greenhouse; are familiar with most of the Southeastern native perennials that we primarily grow; and are proficient with software such as Excel and online platforms such as Square. If this describes you, you're likely a great fit for the program. We expect you'll master our growing and marketing systems fairly quickly. Just know that the training will still likely take at least a year, simply because it takes that long to learn how to properly manage a greenhouse. Every week is different as the plants grow to a different life stage and the greenhouse fills up with plants. If you can contribute more than five hours a week, you'll likely earn back your tuition plus more through a profit share agreement. If you have significant marketing and sales experience, we can usually set up a barter arrangement to offset your tuition at the start of the program.

If it is not possible for you to take a training at this moment but you are eager to work here, we often have openings for garden maintenance at 5 hours a week. This is a good way to get in the door here. Also, check back for announcements about an ecological gardener educator position. We also hire cleaners for our tiny house on Airbnb, and have an opening for a weekend cleaner. Thanks for your consideration!