Looking for new greenhouse talent? Focus on the plants

26-04-2021    11:22   |    Greenhouse Grower

The horticulture industry’s struggles with finding talented employees are familiar to many business owners, no matter their company size or location. These challenges also extend to retaining good employees once they do come on board.

Greenhouse Grower Editor Janeen Wright recently offered her thoughts on hiring for experience versus hiring for potential. Her article included examples of industry partnerships, such as the one between Seed Your Future and Society of American Florists, that are designed to prioritize resources to strengthen the industry and ensure a long-term pipeline of green-collar professionals.

When it comes to explaining why someone should come work for you, I offer another suggestion: consider focusing on anything besides the plants you’re growing.

Nature Fresh Farms, which produces greenhouse vegetables in the U.S. and Canada, took this approach in a recent blog on its website that offered advice for those considering a career in agriculture.

“A greenhouse farming operation is also a business, which means it needs a strong team of professionals including growers, accountants, salespeople, IT technicians, shippers, maintenance technicians, office staff, and everything in-between to run smoothly,” the blog post notes. “Many people think the job opportunities available at a farm only involve working with plants, but greenhouse farms today are seeking professionals, general laborers, and skilled laborers with a wide range of skills to join their ranks.”

Seed Your Future’s Careers page goes even deeper, and it’s a resource everyone should check out. The page lists hundreds of horticulture career options, what they involve, and the education required for each. A large percentage of these jobs involve never having to touch a plant. And yet, as the page notes, “Horticulture is the business of managing and using what we grow, while maintaining the health of our soil, air, and water, and the well-being of our children, our communities, and our world. In short, it’s all about plants!”

The topic really hit home for me during my recent conversation with Trevor Terry, Chief Marketing Communications Officer at Kentucky Fresh Harvest, which is emerging as a major player in greenhouse vegetable production. Terry told me he had no formal experience in horticulture, and yet he’s played an integral role in helping the company launch its new brand of Brilliant tomatoes later this year.

Of course, one of the keys to Terry’s growth in the company was his close work with Shubin Saha, the Chief Operating Officer at Kentucky Fresh Harvest, who brought with him years of plant production experience through his time with Extension programs at multiple universities.

The common theme between Terry’s journey and Seed Your Future’s Careers resource page is that plant knowledge still remains the core part of a greenhouse career. However, focusing on the wide range of options available in horticulture, and in your business, might be a good first step to getting people in the front door. After that, the time they spend and learn from experienced horticulturists will be invaluable.

Source and Photo Courtesy of Greenhouse Grower

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