Gardener, plant coach, and “plantrepreneur” Nick Cutsumpas, aka Farmer Nick (@farmernick), is on a mission to get people to see houseplants as a gateway to world change. What started as a part-time passion has bloomed to a full-grown lifestyle geared towards sustainability.
Nick believes that minimizing one’s environmental footprint is best achieved through baby steps. “Plants are stepping stones towards sustainability,” Nick tells In The Know. “If I can convince you to put a houseplant on your desk, I’m convinced I can get you to care about the big plant we all live on, and it just starts with creating empathy and a connection.”
Once people have a connection to their plants at home, Nick believes it will be that much easier to create a connection to the world at large, and inspire sustainable actions that help the environment. “If you have a plant that you can empathize with and care for and learn to nurture, you’re gonna view your connection to the outside world in a whole different way, and it leads to more behavior change, whether that’s shopping at the farmer’s market, or cutting down on single-use plastics, or even going vegan,” says Nick.
Beyond houseplants, Nick is a huge proponent of urban farming, which is the practice of cultivating, harvesting, and distributing food in or around a metropolitan area. One urban farm that he’s involved with is ALMA Backyard Farms, which is a suite of urban farms in California rooted in restorative justice.
“The fact that they can grow healthy, delicious food that is affordable for the community in an area that they may not have access to the same quality of produce you might get at a conventional grocery store is game changing,” says Nick of ALMA.
Above harvesting and distributing high-quality food, ALMA is a safe green space for families to come and visit with their kids, and is heavily involved in social activism by hiring formerly incarcerated individuals for job training and working on the farm in order to give them solid experience when re-entering the workforce.
At the end of the day, Nick is happiest when making a positive impact through plants. “The culture around making a positive impact and doing something good for the environment and the people in that environment, there is truly nothing better,” he says.
“Motivate yourself, inspire others,” says Nick of his go-to motto. “Because truthfully, I’m in a position of privilege and if I’m not using the benefits that come with my privilege to do something positive, then I feel like I’ve wasted my time.”
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