Q&A: Urban Gardening with @farmernicknyc
Nick Cutsumpas (@farmernicknyc) is a “plantrepreneur” who is passionate about all things green. As a full-time plant consultant, apartment farmer, and eco-warrior, Nick’s mission is to give people the confidence and knowledge to sustainably create their own green spaces. Read on as Nick talks about his roots in farming, discusses his 3 step plant consulting process, and more!
Many thanks to our interviewer, Elise!
My love of plants started when I was ten years old. My mom introduced me to gardening and we had a small plot of tomatoes in a raised bed that I was responsible for. What started as a simple summertime hobby soon became an obsession, and each year the garden grew more robust. Sugar snap peas, sunflowers, sweet potatoes, and heirloom tomatoes burst forth from the earth like a jungle, and I took fierce pride in the life I was cultivating and sharing with others.
It was only a matter of time before Christmas clothes were replaced by experimental seed packets. Old sports memories were retired in lieu of epic war stories about the chipmunks who laid siege to my produce. And lazy Sundays became adventurous trips to the farmers market.
Although NYC life has created distance between me and my little “farm,” the city allowed me to explore my love (or obsession) for houseplants and I have collected over 50 in my apartment. Moving from a green, suburban neighborhood to the grey void that is NYC, it only made sense to fill my space with greenery, and my little jungle creates a calming energy every time I return home. However, my roots will always be in agriculture and sustainability so the Farmer Nick name is here to stay.
The plant consulting business grew organically from my Instagram. Friends and family began asking me to consult on their spaces, and I did a few test runs with friends in the NYC area. After a while I created a three-step process for working with these individuals:
1. Assess the Space. Assessing your home environment is THE most important thing you can do as an expecting plant parent. Most people fail to keep their plants alive because they choose plants that weren’t capable of surviving in their homes in the first place. As I always tell my clients, “People don’t kill plants, the wrong environments do,” and I observe factors like light exposure, humidity, and aesthetic to determine what plants will thrive.
2. Create the Greenprint. The Greenprint is basically my take on a plant blueprint. I will look at the floorplan of a space and mark out where each plant will go. This gives the client a proper understanding of what their space will look like before the plants are purchased.
3. Plant Shopping! This is the best part and I always encourage my clients to come with me. They absolutely love the process of hand-selecting their plants, and by going into the plant shop together, the clients develop a greater appreciation for the life they are bringing into their homes. At the end of the day it’s nature, not furniture.
I focus mostly on houseplants in the city but love the opportunity to do work on outdoor terraces, especially when veggies are involved. I now have over 40 clients here in NYC and have traveled out of state (and out of country) for a few specific projects. Virtual plant coaching is also an option.
The number one struggle my clients deal with is confidence. Going into the plant shops by themselves can be incredibly intimidating, and many of them have had plant horror stories in their past. My number one goal is to give them the confidence and knowledge they need to be successful plant parents, and I make sure that the tips and strategies I recommend are simple and actionable. The fact that I am self-taught helps with this as well, and they are put at ease knowing that you don’t have to have a PHD in Horticulture to be successful.
Working with the Wally Eco planters is awesome! The clients love the fact that they don’t have to hang plants from the ceiling or use hooks in the walls. The Wally Eco gives them the option to put plants anywhere in their space, and the installation process itself is super simple on my end. I especially love it when we plant trailing plants inside the Ecos, because over time it looks like the plants are just growing out of the walls!
I believe that the plant movement is only just beginning. Large metropolitan cities like NYC are a breeding ground for stress and unhealthy habits, and the idea of bringing green into the home environment is a welcome respite for my clients. Our world has become so fast-paced, and plants teach us patience and empower us to slow down and appreciate nature even more. The rise of plants is very tied to the environmental movement as well, and it is easier than ever for people to reconnect with nature through their houseplants.