Zealandia, what an outrageous name! That was my first impression of the big greenhouse wholesale business that now employs me 15 hours a week.
I had wanted to work while in New Zealand. I love plants, and the science of growing them, and it seemed a shame to live in such an agricultural country as NZ and not gain some more work experience while we’re here. After several months of checking unfruitful jobs postings I got bold (oh yes, bold especially for a Harro…the Shaw family must be rubbing off on me) and started to send in my resume blindly to a couple companies. Zealandia called me back, and after several meetings with the owners they decided they could use me….well, at least they made up a job for me, and continue to make it up as we go along.
I’m somewhat of a conundrum to the other Zealandia employees. I’m not doing anything obviously productive such as transplanting plugs, driving a fork-lift, watering plants, or loading orders. I’m a strange American who has been seen wandering around with a pH meter, clip board, and various plastic cups filled with media and water. Occasionally I add a copper ion tester to that outfit. Yesterday during a tea break (they take these religiously here) one of the other guys asked me what I was supposed to be doing. Apparently the rumor mill had me pegged as a student doing a school project….I guess the trays of peat with little labels and a sign saying “please water” does look more like a school experiment than the pH/liming response trial that the boss asked me to conduct. I told him I was doing little projects that Pedro (the boss) didn’t have time to get around to, which is essentially true and more informational than “Plant Technician as part of the operations team,” which is my official job title. In retrospect, I missed a great opportunity to have some harmless fun and see how fast a really juicy rumor could have circulated. But I’m new there, and I’m not quite sure how practical jokes are accepted yet.
I’m looking forward to work tomorrow, visiting the germination/plug growing greenhouse down the road. Pansies germinated during the summer end up with boron deficiency, and one of my jobs is sorting out the cause and solution. That should be an interesting challenge. Thankfully a couple Cornell folks have consented to fielding questions sent even from New Zealand, so my information network is still at least partially intact. Hurray for generosity of university academics!