With 2018 rapidly approaching, this is the perfect time to reflect on my accomplishments during the past year, as well as set goals for the new year. I have divided this topic into a two-part series of posts: (i) Achievements of 2017; and (ii) Goals for 2018. This post will focus on my achievements in 2017. I will cover my goals for 2018 in a separate post to follow this one.
There are some years where you feel that you haven’t really achieved that much. 2017 definitely hasn’t been one of those years! One of the partners at my previous law firm Bell Gully told me that she is really impressed by how I’ve managed to pack so much into a relatively short space of time. Looking back, I can’t believe what I’ve managed to accomplish. I can only hope that 2018 is even more productive than this year!
Here are what I consider my top five achievements of 2017:
1. I started my own business
In May 2017, I launched my own start up, Anita’s Garden. As discussed in a previous blog post, my business grew organically from a hobby and I left my career as a commercial lawyer to pursue Anita’s Garden full-time.
I spent a two-week holiday at our bach in Tauranga Bay creating a website by myself on Weebly, no mean feat for someone who is completely hopeless with technology! A month later, I began writing a gardening blog that remains active to the present day. Soon afterwards, I set up various social media platforms to help promote my business. I created a Facebook page and set up accounts on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat. In spring, I started writing a gardening newsletter filled with information about what to do around the garden and advice about how to grow different vegetables, flowers and herbs. I am pleased to have a growing database of readers.
In October, I opened my boutique plant nursery to the public and made a range of plants available for sale, including vegetable and flower seedlings I had propagated by seed, herbs, perennials, roses and fruit trees. I also received several requests for mail orders, which I successfully processed and arrived in excellent condition on the overnight courier service.
In addition to retail sales, I have also supplied a number of services to the public. I led my first tour of the garden for a walking group from a local church, conducted a gardening workshop for the children of a law school friend that are being home schooled and supplied flowers for a tangi (funeral) in Northland.
Finally, I discovered Vistaprint, who supply business owners with fantastic marketing materials. I have designed my own business cards, brochures, calendars and t-shirts (which form part of my work uniform).
2. I became a brand ambassador
In addition to setting up my own business, I also became a brand ambassador for a number of leading New Zealand gardening businesses. You can read more about my thoughts on being a brand ambassador in this blog post. Building on our pre-existing relationship over the years since I started gardening, the idea is to work closely with one another and promote each other’s businesses.
3. I finally got a smartphone (and learnt how to use it!)
I actually wanted to put this at the #1 spot! It marks a huge milestone in both my professional and personal life. For years, I have resisted getting a smartphone, much to the chagrin of family and friends, who always complained that they could never reach me. In April 2017, this all changed when I got myself a smartphone. Why did I live in the dark ages for such a long time? The real reason was simply that I felt that I had enough to do each day without the constant interruption of checking a gadget every few minutes because I received an email, text or phone call. In my former career as a lawyer, we were expected to carry a blackberry with us at all times (and respond to it!), including over the weekends and during holidays. I hated seeing that flashing red light notifying me that I had received a message. I could never quite relax in my free time and I vowed that if I ever left the legal profession, I would go completely incommunicado. Sans smartphone, I managed to zone out and accomplished quite a bit over the years, including creating our garden from scratch. However, setting up my own business changed things. All of a sudden, people had to be able to contact me to line up appointments to visit the nursery otherwise I wouldn’t have any customers! I have to admit that my phone is probably my most indispensable business tool. I use it all the time to communicate with customers, take photos of the garden and remain active on my social media accounts, which is essential in order to market my business effectively. Now that I have a smartphone, I honestly don’t know what I’d do without it!
4. Addition of a mini-orchard to Anita’s Garden
2017 was also the year that we started to add fruit trees to Anita’s Garden. Up until this point, the garden contained only roses, vegetables and flowers. In March, two American wwoofers helped me plant a dwarf banana tree called Misi Luki in our garden. In April, I planted eight blueberry plants in containers and planted a further three different Feijoa varieties into the ground. In winter, I planted a range of dwarf deciduous fruit trees in containers, including eight different apple varieties, five different peach varieties and three different nectarine varieties. We also have an apricot tree, a pear tree, two guavas and two fig trees. I also planted a raspberry, a boysenberry, a blackberry and a hybrid berry against our trellis at the back of our house. The raspberry and boysenberry have been cropping prolifically since November. The blueberries and dwarf fruit trees are absolutely laden with fruit, which is very exciting! In October, I planted a dwarf avocado tree called Cleopatra, which is an exciting addition to the market. I can’t wait to start reporting on its progress in years to come. My customers to the plant nursery were so impressed by our mini-orchard and I became inundated with requests for fruit trees. I managed to source two lots of fruit trees which I made available for sale and hope to continue to supply them to customers in future.
Click here to view the entire range of fruit trees in our home garden.
5. We became woofing hosts
Towards the end of January, mum and I hosted our first wwoofers. You can read more about the Wwoof scheme in my previous blog post on this subject. Wwoofers are travellers with working holiday visas that receive accommodation and meals in exchange for some assistance around the garden. The scheme has enabled us to meet some lovely people from all around the world. We really enjoy educating others about organic and sustainable growing practices. We have found that wwoofers have, in turn, taught us a lot about gardening as well.