Cannabis coaching is as much a gig about growing as it is about people – and Natalie Carver wouldn’t have it any other way.

For the last year, the long-time organic vegetable farmer has been helping Washington D.C. residents grow their own cannabis at home. As the founder and head coach of Buds Organic – whose mandate is to provide custom gardening installation, maintenance and coaching services to would-be home-growers in D.C. – she visits roughly 12 homes a month (and counting).

“It’s a personal relationship as well as a business relationship,” Carver told Civilized.

“I take a lot of [pleasure] in helping others do what I love to do, rather than just selling them a product… To actually see somebody learn and help them become self-sufficient, I think there’s a lot of joy in that.”

Of course, there’s also a fair amount of education (not to mention elbow grease) involved.

Carver immerses herself in the home-grow process from start to finish, beginning with a consultation to take in a client’s space, evaluate their budget and discuss their cannabis needs. After helping the client set up their new indoor grow environment, Carver returns for routine garden visits to make sure the plant is getting everything it needs.

It’s all to help prospective growers in D.C. - who can possess two ounces of marijuana, cultivate six cannabis plants in their residence and consume on private property if they're at least 21 years of age - navigate what can feel like an impossibly complex task.

“It’s not like growing a houseplant,” said Carver. “It’s a little bit more involved than… just putting a seed in a pot and putting it in your windowsill.”  

The real process may be more exhaustive, but it’s also a lot more rewarding, said Carver. It’s her hope that every successful home-grow is a meaningful experience for both her and her clients.

“A lot of people are not growing because they’re huge [cannabis] consumers. They just want a nice product that they grow themselves,” said Carver, adding that many of her clients are “folks you wouldn’t expect – like people starting a family or retirees wanting a home project.”

“It’s more sentimental and more special to nurture these plants from seeds all the way through the grow cycle. It’s a very grounding process.”  

Seeing the positive effects that the home-grow experience has on her clients – many of whom “just want to know where the things they consume are coming from” – is always a heartening experience for Carver.

“Cannabis from dispensaries can be high-quality but you just don’t know what kind of fertilizers or chemicals were used,” said Carver of the motivation to seek out services like those provided by Buds Organic. “Seeing clients experience those ‘aha moments’, like when the flower starts to form and the trichomes [appear]… those are the little moments that really make the job worthwhile.”