Erin Minter: Growing concern

Chilliwack's Erin Minter, 34, as featured in The Chilliwack Progress Forty Under 40.

Erin Minter.

Erin Minter is growing the family gardening business for a new generation more at home with tweeting than weeding, but at the same time she’s keeping the older generation satisfied.

And when the energetic 34-year-old isn’t tending the marketing-side of Minter Country Gardens, she’s serving this community as a search and rescue volunteer.

“It’s nice to see people are getting back into the garden,” Minter says.

“You can see it starting to come back,” she says excitedly, like a gardener talking about the first signs of spring.

“People are gardening more,” she goes on. “They’re getting their kids out into the garden. They’re doing things from seeds.”

Minter’s challenge is to use the emerging marketing tool of social media to “reach out” to that young audience, but at the same time deliver the quality and service the older generation expects.

They still come to the family store, Minter says, “but now you’ve got this new generation of gardeners who haven’t really done it before, and they’re starting from scratch — so, it’s what’s cool and new and funky and reliable for them to get into gardening and starting to like it. While keeping that connection with the older generation that knows what they’re doing.”

“They’re still out there and wanting to experiment a little bit, too,” she says.

“It’s cool. It’s kind of like, it’s both ends of the spectrum right now, because there’s so much opportunity.”

By that, Minter means the development of new low-maintenance plants, virtually guaranteed not to turn-off novice gardeners by stubbornly wilting, and horticultural advances that make gardening fit more easily into modern lifestyles.

Minter went to university with archeology on her mind, but switched to commerce and was soon working as an industrial management consultant.

But the corporate world didn’t suit her — and Chilliwack beckoned.

In a smaller-size business, Minter explains, she can apply what she has learned in a very hands-on way.

“It’s not huge corporate bucks,” she says. “You can jump right in and do it, make sure that things happen.”

Much like growing your own tomato plant.

Minter says gardening was “obviously” part of the Minter family lifestyle, and it still fascinates her.

“I remember having a garden when I was little,” she says. “I still have one, too. The first tomato that ripens every year is like, ‘Oh, my God! Come and look at my tomato!’”

“It doesn’t matter, every year, it’s always the same, it’s always fun.”

But with so many demands on her time, Minter says she can also totally relate to the frustrations of that new generation of gardeners.

“If you have blight, I can understand what you’re talking about,” she says.