The Reluctant Gardener Found His Plant Power

The Reluctant Gardener Found His Plant Power

“Like every skill, gardening does not come naturally. It has to be passed on.” - Robin Lane Fox

I wasn’t always an enthusiastic gardener — it was taught to me. This describes my experience perfectly. I grew up in Appleton, Wisconsin, a small city dropped in the middle of rural America. You wouldn’t guess that the city had a population of 70,000 people if you made your way to my home, a renovated one room schoolhouse that is surrounded by farm field. With that amount of space, my family was able to grow squash, tomatoes, pumpkins, and peppers across two large garden plots behind our garage and on the west side of our house. Any excess that we didn’t eat would get stored, canned, and preserved for the winter.

Jacob Horn and his dad Steve installing a small greenhouse at their family home.
Horn_Image1_background.jpg

Now, I’m going to be honest, I know that I grumbled and whined when I had to weed and water the garden, seeing it as a chore. Even though I didn’t know it at the time, my parents were passing along their plant-passion to me. They taught me that this hard work would pay off year after year and I’ve applied that to the rest of my life.

That passion for plants didn’t bloom until college when I stumbled upon the student farming club and found out that I was actually kind of good at digging around in the dirt and growing vegetables that my classmates would eat.

After graduation, I set out to Chicago and found a series of farming jobs. It felt like every year there was a new opportunity to work with plants in the city. I had the opportunity to work for the Chicago Botanic Garden as part of their urban farming initiative, Windy City Harvest. While I pursued my Master’s degree, I taught kids across the city the importance of gardening through the Chicago Park District. Most recently I built and maintained green roofs across the country, growing farms and prairies in the most unexpected places.

Not only was it important for me to spend my time outdoors with plants, but I wanted to teach others that they can find their passion too. Many of those farming jobs were rooted in a mission to get groups of adults and kids excited about growing their own food. Here at Seed Your Future, I’m working to spread my love of plants that I’ve learned from my family and career.

Horn_Image2a.jpg

While I’ve only been on board the Seed Your Future movement since February 2019, I was thrilled to read about the international renown we are growing. The Financial Times published an article refuting the cliché that gardening should be set aside as a hobby to be pursued by those approaching retirement. The author knows that the more children are exposed to gardening, the more they’ll love it and appreciate the role plants play in the health of our planet. I can personally confirm that.

There is a paywall to read the article, but in the article, the author mentions Seed Your Future as well many other plant-based initiatives going on across the globe:

“In Pennsylvania, campaigns to attract young gardeners have become a priority at Longwood Gardens, which is co-operating with the American Society for Horticultural Science. Led by the gardens’ executive director, Paul Redman, Longwood has identified gardening’s needlessly low profile as a career, vital though it is to a country’s maintenance, beauty and productivity. It has collaborated with the ASHS on a Seed Your Future programme, to attract more takers to horticulture as a “green collar” working life.” ( Longwood Gardens and ASHS are both founding partners of the Seed Your Future movement.  Paul Redman serves as the co-chair of the National Leadership Cabinet, along with Anna Ball of the Ball Horticultural Company. Access the article on the Financial Times site.)

Thankfully I’ve found my “green collar” job, and I look forward to helping others find theirs.

- Do you have a plant-journey story to share, or a comment about this BLOG post? We'd love to hear from you!  Share your thoughts here.
-Jacob Horn is Seed Your Future's Program Manager. He focuses on growing support for the movement and engaging advocates in our Mission.  You can reach Jacob at jhorn@SeedYourFuture.org