By Candy Woodall
The York Dispatch, Pa.
She’s saving up for her first dump truck.
“I want to have pink dump trucks all over York County,” said Valerie Mace, owner of Garden Girls of PA in West York.
She will use the trucks to haul soil, mulch and more to a growing number of landscaping jobs throughout the region.
In its third year, the company employs about 20 women, who range in age from 21 to 36. Three of them handle most of day-to-day operations, and the other 17 assist or volunteer with landscaping work, Mace said.
The women build retaining walls, mulch, garden and do other landscaping work during the warmer months, and in the winter they plow snow.
Mace said she’s still not making much, but the company has made progress.
“I started the business with $1,500 from my income tax return and bought a beat-up F-150. It broke down every week, but we made it work,” she said.
But it was a turning point for the 31-year-old mother of three boys.
“I worked in the bar industry and got tired of being pushed around by men and looked down on by women. I was in a place in my life I just didn’t like,” Mace said.
Her passion: She thought about what she loved to do and went back to her roots — literally.
Planting gardens and being outside are a passion for the young woman who grew up on a 101-acre farm in Hanover.
“I started mowing on the side, and the business grew from there,” Mace said.
Garden Girls has often been hired by older women in the area who are no longer physically able to plant their gardens and pull weeds, she said.
Mace dreams of being able to earn enough money to help those women and other seniors in the area.
She also wants to open a Garden Girls daycare.
“My girls and I are all moms, and we’ve all had trouble finding sitters or have had trouble paying them. We know what that’s like. It would be nice to have a facility where kids could go and plant their own garden and make lunches from that garden,” Mace said.
For the kids: She came a step closer to that dream when she and her co-workers purchased a van, which is used for taking the kids on field trips.
“That’s what I want — to make sure the kids are having a good life, even if I have to work through most of it,” Mace said.
She and her team work 10-hour days, five days a week, and she also works as a bartender at a local golf course.
“It’s amazing. It’s hard. I would love for Garden Girls to be my primary job, my only job. As of now, I’m working all weekend, every weekend. You do what you have to do to grow a business,” she said.