What does a…If you look at our job landscape, you will see special functions. A field service engineer, a lab technician or an assembly worker: we obviously need them badly, but for what and why? In this series, someone talks about his or her profession every week. Today: Carmen van Heel (28) from Breda is a vegetable garden coach.
What exactly do you do?
,,As a vegetable garden coach, I do all kinds of things in the field of vegetable gardening. I have my own company, C’est la vie for you, and I teach primary schools, organize vegetable garden workshops, write for a magazine and make videos about vegetable gardening.”
How did you get into this profession?
,,In 2019 things did not go well for me. I was looking for something that brought me positivity. When I received tomato seeds in the letterbox from family in France, I started working with them. I thought it was so special that those seeds produced edible tomatoes. I became more and more interested in vegetable gardening, started sharing my experiences on social media and built a website.”
So now you’re in front of the class?
“Yes, I often fill in as a creative subject teacher at primary schools. On such a day I teach the children everything about vegetable gardening and we actually garden outside, of course. The great thing about children is that they can marvel at anything. I want to make the world a bit healthier and greener, so I mainly focus on them, in the hope that they can make the world a bit more beautiful later on.”
What is your most special moment in this work?
“When I ask the kids at the end of the day what they liked best, the answer is almost always ‘sowing’. But I have now also received twice as an answer ‘that you were there today’. That is very special.”
What is the biggest challenge?
“Unfortunately, I sometimes notice that there can be resistance at schools around the financial picture. Fortunately, there are grants that schools can apply for for these classes. I now often fill in for a day at a school, but I want to enter into long-term processes with schools so that there are greener schools and schoolyards.”
Are there more things you want to achieve in your work?
“Certainly, making people think more consciously about where our food comes from. We have somewhat forgotten what good and healthy food is and above all: that you also have to make an effort for food. There is a lot of ready-to-eat food in the supermarket and at the touch of a button someone is at the door with food. Gardening gives you an idea of the growing process. You learn to care for nature.
We have somewhat forgotten what good and healthy food is and above all: that you also have to make an effort for food
My dream is that everyone has a place to grow their own vegetables. I would like to see gardens less tiled. Remove a few tiles and plant a plant. If you like that, the ball will continue to roll and you will do more. In this way we work together for a greener and healthier world.”
What does your garden look like?
“I have always grown my own vegetables in my backyard. This year I was also allocated a 100 square meter allotment garden, which I am very happy with. I am pre-sowing, so my windowsills are completely full.”
How do you see your own future?
,,I want a all inclusive creating a place where everything I’m doing now comes together. It consists of a large house, which I partly use as a B&B, retreat and workshop location, and a large garden where I can inspire children and adults with vegetable gardening. And of course I serve healthy food from my own garden.”
Do you like to sit with your hands in the green, just like Carmen? Then a job in landscaping might be something for you. There are plenty of ‘green’ vacancies to be found at both contracting companies and municipalities. For example, you can work as a landscaping employee, green maintenance or as a caretaker of green roofs. In any case, you are outside and busy with nature all day long. At Nationale Vacaturebank you will find relevant vacancies in your region.
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