Back in the office after my seasonal layoff, I am preparing for another busy year at the farm. Last year was certainly interesting in a variety of ways. Adjusting to a global pandemic certainly kept us all on our toes. The crisis had an interesting effect on our industry and that really got me thinking about a lot of things. During the growing season, I honestly didn't have time to think. Now that I've had time to reflect, it seems appropriate to share a little positivity.
Last year was the busiest year we have ever had at this location. All of us struggled to keep up with the unexpected demand. We went from fearing that we might have to shut down to worrying about how we were going to keep up. I don't think anyone in the plant and landscape business was prepared for what we encountered. I find that really intriguing and encouraging.
After the first shutdown, I think people were just looking for things to do at home. Vacation plans were put off and home improvement projects were prioritized. As more and more people started working from home, neighbors began to notice each others eccentricities. "Karen" had to look at "Bob's" pile of junk every day from her office window. That pile of perfectly useful things that Bob accumulated began to occupy more and more space in Karen's brain. Karen's chi was all out of whack and something had to be done. Pretty soon, a perimeter hedge of tall Arborvitaes appeared in the space between adjacent yards. Bob appreciated the noise barrier that the new evergreens provided between his tender ears and Karen's four, screaming kids. Bob was so delighted with Karen's efforts that he reimbursed her for some of her planting expenses. I think you get my theoretical drift.
But what did those investments really do? They made Karen and Bob's homes and yards more enjoyable for them to spend time in. Oxygen producing entities were contributed to the suburban environment. Karen gained a new, relaxing hobby by adding more living things that require care to her landscape. Bob and Karen's relationship is better than ever before. Do I have a "Bob" in "Karen" in mind as I spin this yarn? Well, no; but these scenarios are very familiar to me.
COVID has had some desirable side effects, despite all of the horrible statistics and numbers we hear on the news every day. Many people re-established their bonds with the great outdoors. Families planted and gardened together. New generations learned from older ones. People became conscious of the need to become more self sufficient and started growing more of their own food. Everyone had to look at their immediate surroundings with fresh eyes and renewed gratitude. Life slowed down to a snails pace for some and accelerated to somewhat stressful levels for others, but everyone was forced to look at life in a slightly different way.
What I hope lasts, is our increased appreciation for home and family. I have my husband, my cats and a few close neighbors in my COVID mix. We celebrated the holidays with enthusiasm and hope and lots of goodies. However, I haven't been able to see my octogenarian parents since last Christmas. I miss them terribly and can't wait for our reunion. I have a new great nephew whom I have yet to meet. Boy will that be a special moment! I hope we never lose this increased appreciation for the special people in our lives.
Hopefully, all of the people who found or renewed their passion for the outdoors stay connected to it. Being actively involved with the environment fosters respect for our lands and waters. That's precisely what we need to keep our planet healthy. I can't imagine not being moved by the views I've seen on my hikes and camping trips. For those who experienced that feeling for the first time (or the first time in a long time) I hope it was memorable and magical.
eEveryone is always so damn busy these days. I remember when the internet was new and everyone thought we would have so much more disposable time and freedom. Boy were we wrong! All that new technology really did was make it possible for us to work anywhere, anytime. While slowing down has been a bit uncomfortable for some, others have finally had time to relax and enjoy life. Kids and parents have been able to make lasting memories of camping in the backyard and planting apple trees together. That's so much more meaningful than texting each other memes from different areas of the living room.
The last thing that I hope we hold onto from these "unprecedented times" is our renewed focus on mental health. All of our scrambling and obsessing seldom brings joy. There is something to be said for living in the moment and that moment can't always be fleeting. As things slowly return to our "new normal", I hope we can hold onto some of the lessons we've learned from this spherical foe. Roses were put here for us to smell and we must smell them as often as possible while we are able to do so. What's more important than that?
My name is Connie Kratzke. I have worked with Kahnke Brothers for 16 years. During this period, I have done everything from watering the plants to designing our website. My role at the nursery involves selling stock, managing inventory, marketing plants and overseeing the production of shrubs and perennials. Sometimes I sit at a desk and other times I can be found in a Bobcat. During my career here, I have become a MNLA Certified Professional. I am also an at large member of the Minnesota Grown Promotion Group/Minnesota Grown Advisory Committee. Currently, I serve as City Arborist for Silver Lake, Minnesota, and a member of their planning commission. My focus is on helping our clients succeed with their landscaping efforts. Education is a huge factor influencing that success. Keeping it real is my strategy. Through sharing my experiences at the nursery and at home, I hope to debunk myths and eliminate concerns. At the same time, I want people to be aware of what doesn't work. Living things are somewhat unpredictable, but they all have basic needs. Understanding how to fill those needs while simultaneously achieving landscape goals is a process that I want to share with as many people as possible, because I truly enjoy it.
May - November
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