By Dean Whittaker

There is a season for most things. Currently, it is the season of cultivating and planting. Gardening is a great metaphor for what we do in economic development and throughout life.

Much of gardening requires preparing the soil, making sure it has all the things the plant is going to need including nutrients, air, water, and most of all, sunlight. Water transports the nutrients from the soil to the cells of the plant through the leaves, carbon dioxide combines with hydrogen and releases oxygen, and sunlight makes it all happen. What an amazing system to which we are all connected.

We need to plant the seed just right as to location, depth, and time. Knowing when, where, and how to plant is an art, as is economic development. In addition to growing plants from seeds, we can also transplant plants grown in other locations.

Who would have thought the role the bees and butterflies play by pollinating the flowers would be so vital? These almost unseen supporting actors make things possible just like the behind-the-scenes people in your organization. Last summer, when my cucumbers didn’t materialize, I learned that the local bee population had dramatically declined. Thanks to a newly formed bee keepers group, the population is bouncing back.

Growing your economy has many of the same needs as plants; good infrastructure of utilities to support sites; workforce development to prepare the skills that will be needed; and continuous care and nurturing to create the social, political, and economic environment to support a health economy.

As the gardener, you bring the intellectual and emotional energy. You have the “know how” to bring the pieces together to produce the desired outcome at just the right time. You bring the patience to shape the conversation, the skill to find the resources, and the passion to see things through. Many lives have been impacted because of the work you do. Happy gardening and thank you!