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Are you handicapped and making money in horticulture?

Posted by bejoy2 Z8, Seattle, WA (My Page) on
Wed, Nov 8, 06 at 14:03

Does anyone know someone who makes money (whether employed full-time or part-time, or self-employed, or just making money on the side) in the horticulture field from a wheelchair, or who has severe lower back problems? These people could be working as nursery managers, landscapers, floral designers, county extension agents, etc... .

The reason I ask is that 20 years ago, while in the Air Force, I suffered a back injury that was not treated. They gave me Motrin and sent me home. Now I have osteoarthritis in my lower back. I am trying to get my VA Advisor to approve rehab training for me that includes getting an Associate's Degree in Horticulture. He has consistently told me that I will never be able to work full-time again, so I started looking for something that I could do part-time. When I proposed this course, he balked. He said he didn't think I could do the job, and doesn't seem to be aware of the accomodations that can be made for people with physical disabilities. I know of one man at my local farmer's market who makes sedum wreaths and sells herbs, and he is in a wheelchair, but I would love to have more examples from all over the country to show my advisor.

I have told him that a job that requires some physical effort has is better for my health than a sedentary job, so if anyone has information to support that position, I would love to hear from them.

Since I already grow plants for trade right here in GardenWeb's Pacific Northwest Forum, I know that I could do it for money, too, if I found the right opportunity in a nursery, or maybe I could even start my own business. I've traded plants with a nursery down the street, so I know there is a market for my plants.

I would sincerely appreciate any information I could use to support my attempt to gain useful employment in this area.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Are you handicapped and making money in horticulture?

Good luck! I'm a para since 1949, and I've worked a few jobs and raised 4 kids on a farm. If I'd taken the path people urged when I was younger, I'd never have done what I loved doing - teaching. I taught French and Gifted/Talented in jr and sr. high school.

I know you're right about keeping moving and using what you've got. Why should arranging and creating for horticulture industries be out of the question?

I can't give you the life experience story you need, but you're on the right track!


RE: Are you handicapped and making money in horticulture?

I'm handicapped and pull myself around in a little red wagon to garden. I raised so many tomatoes I had to give them away by leaving bags of them on people's doorsteps.
No money, but a staggering number of tomatoes.

You should be able to raise plants in pots on tables, another thing I do.

RE: Are you handicapped and making money in horticulture?

I do not know this person myself. But when I was living in Wisconsin there was a person in a wheelchair that sold bedding plants and hanging baskets from the driveway in Waterford Wisconsin. I think there was a little 'stink' about it at first, the person lives on a main street there and I think parking/traffic was some kind of issue--I am not up on the details--my inlaws lived in that town so I only observed some of that. In anycase, they must have made some agreement cuz I noticed that they were back up in business again the next spring. Looked like a pretty good little business. I would say Go for it! If you can get whatever legal requirements there are dealt with you should be able to make a good income. Also there is a webite I think called 'backyard nursery' that has help for that sort of thing. Good luck! Mary

RE: Are you handicapped and making money in horticulture?

  • Posted by bejoy2 Z8, Seattle, WA (My Page) on
    Wed, Nov 29, 06 at 14:12

Thanks to everyone who sent me messages of encouragement. I am heartened to hear your stories of how you overcame obstacles to do what you love to do. The physical limitations we face are often less of a challenge than the limitations that others try to impose upon us through their ignorance, laziness, or intolerance.
I will pursue the horticulture degree. I figure I can at least work at a local nursery behind the counter, selling plants and answering customers' questions. And I will continue to work in my garden.

RE: Are you handicapped and making money in horticulture?

  • Posted by yama 7b Ga (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 18, 07 at 8:22

Hi bejoy.
I think you can grow plants and able to sell.
Some plants are small and easy to propagate.
weed and seedling of ordanary plants can be use. If you can grow hard to "find plant" or small plants, seedlig, liner and make bonsai, basket planter etc and sell it to flower shop or garden center. If you can go to school to learn foudation of botany,chemstroy and have some hand on experience.
recently, I stared to grow so called kokedame/ moss ball,moss globe and bonsai with moss , weed or any seedling I can find or I grow.
physical limitation should not/ will not stop your dream.
If you need to know resources, Please let's me to know.

RE: Are you handicapped and making money in horticulture?

I would contact the author of Square Foot Gardening and ask Mel. I'm sure he has had some contacts with those who are handicapped in some way and still make a living from it.

He actually has a new book called Cash With Square Foot Gardening. So, maybe somebody out there that he knows is doing it from a wheelchair.

But this is what I do know from working in the greenhouse/nursery industry.

In FL, they don't hire a lot of full time employees, they hire self-contractors. Now they still get paid for whatever they do, but they aren't getting W-2's. They are responsible for their own taxes, insurance, etc.

I'm going to have to do the same thing you are. Which means that for heavy lifting and such, I'm going to have to hire some self-contracted labor occassionally. I'm also going to have to be very organized so that I can use those temps when I need them on specific days instead of having them come in on a daily basis for just a short period of time.

Hiring through a temp agency is expensive because temp agencies usually guarantee a full days pay even if they only work for 4 hrs.

Hope that helps,


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