Name: Natalie Carver, 28
Position: Cannabis coach at Buds Organic
Salary: $35,000-42,000, depending on the number of clients and garden visits made per year.
What she does in an era of handcrafted everything, Natalie Carver is helping D.C. residents DIY their marijuana. Her small team at Buds Organic installs indoor cannabis gardens at clients’ homes and teaches people how to maintain and home-grow their own pot.
Carver’s work starts with a consultation with a client to see the space, evaluate their budget and discuss their intentions for growing. She also analyzes a client’s footprint, meaning how much space is available in a client’s home vs. how large they want their garden to be.
“That’s just the groundwork of putting in a garden,” Carver says. The process continues with routine garden visits, where Carver checks in on the plant to make sure it’s getting the nutrients it needs to survive from the soil it’s planted in, and if not, troubleshooting.
Carver grows with organic “super soil” that she makes herself from a compost that includes kelp, seaweed, guano, alfalfa meal and more.
“[We] treat this as a business, and not as a stoner hobby,” she says.
Though clients’ needs vary – medicinal vs. recreational – Carver says she has never had a job that’s as much “pure fun” as this one.
“It’s really such a beautiful process,” she says. “[You’re] starting with a seed [and] four months later you have a smokable flower.”
How she got the job: Carver studied anthropology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. It was in Canada where she first started farming and learned about the world of cannabis. She says she fell in love with plants’ natural growth cycles and the “seasonality of the work.”
“It’s never what I thought I’d be getting into,” Carver says.
Carver is also a local vegetable farmer, and many of the skills she uses in her work with Buds Organic are transferable from her gardening.
“A lot of gardening skills are powers of observing,” Carver says. “The goal is to make a more beautiful, more perfect plant – that’s what I strive for.”
Carver says even though there is still a lot of stigma around marijuana, she is optimistic. She says the most misunderstood part of her job is her target demographic. A lot of people think her job is to go to group houses and help people find weed. But most of her client base is young, employed and about to start a family.
“What I do like about this job is it’s as much a people job as it is a growing job,” she says. “[The clients] trust me, and it’s a neat relationship.”
Who would want this job: For starters, Carver says a good cannabis coach has to have a deep knowledge of weed. That doesn’t mean where to buy it, or how to roll it: It means someone who knows the strains of the plant and how to keep a plant healthy.
“They have to be into cannabis,” she says.
Potential employees should be entrepreneurial, charismatic, punctual and observant. These attributes come into play during those personalized home visits.
How you can get the job: Carver gets emails every week asking if she’s hiring. Though she is still managing her client base and not actively seeking new employees, she says that if there are good people out there, she wants to meet them.
“The people who are applying [say] they’ve been growing for years,” she says. “Which means they’ve been growing illegally, but that’s besides the point.”
Buds Organic operates “totally legally,” meaning that Carver does not provide seeds or plants to clients. (Under D.C.’s Initiative 71, anyone who is at least 21 years old can possess a maximum of 2 ounces of marijuana, cultivate a maximum of six marijuana plants in their residence and use marijuana on private property.)
Carver wants to help people grow their own cannabis for the same reason she wants people to grow their own food: It all comes back to thinking local.
“I see growing cannabis as part of this local web that I think people are really buying into and supporting,” she says. “My purpose in this is to make people, consumers of cannabis, into their own producers, and I want to stay true to that. That’s what brings me satisfaction. That’s why I do this.”