Getting Your Hands Dirty


Getting Your Hands Dirty

Getting Your Hands Dirty


We are humans. We need plants in our environment. We’ve developed and evolved 99.9999% of our human history in natural environments. And now we wonder why we have health problems and mental health issues because we’re living in concrete boxes. It doesn’t make sense.  -Nick Cutsumpas

View Transcript

Ella Magers, MSW (00:08):

Nick, I’m so happy to have you on. How are ya?

Nick Cutsumpas (00:11):

I’m good. I’m good. Thank you for having me. Happy Earth month. Yes. Not sure when this will come out, but it is April the best month of the year. Oh boy. Boy, I appreciate you having me on.

Ella Magers, MSW (00:20):

A big one for you, huh?

Nick Cutsumpas (00:22):

Oh, man. It’s a little burnt out, but it’s like the Super Bowl for eco plant people, so it’s good. It’s worth it.

Ella Magers, MSW (00:30):

Well, I want to talk to you and when I just said Nick, great to have you on, it’s hard to say Nick without saying farmer. Do you get that a lot?

Nick Cutsumpas (00:39):

I literally was on a shoot yesterday and there was another nick on set, and so they’re like, all right, you are just farmer Nick, you are farmer Nick to us forever and always, so whatever works best.

Ella Magers, MSW (00:50):

All right, farmer. Nick, would you be up for a fun little lightning round to just get our juice flowing?

Nick Catsumpas (00:57):

All right. Do I need to stretch or are

Ella Magers, MSW (00:59):

We good? Yeah, do a little stretch. I’m all about mobility and yoga, so if you need to take a few seconds. Yep. A little sprint round here. All right. I got five questions for you.

Nick Cutsumpas (01:08):

Okay, here we go. All

Ella Magers, MSW (01:09):

Right. Three daily habits that keep you on the path of holistic health and wellness.

Nick Cutsumpas (01:16):

Ooh, easy. Wake up 32 ounces of water right off the jump, followed by 30 minutes of stretching, and then some period of time outdoors. Doesn’t have to be a long time, but some period outdoors absorbing that nature. That’s how I start my day,

Ella Magers, MSW (01:33):

Connecting with the nature. I know that’s you. Okay. If you had to choose, what do you think is the most versatile plant food on the planet?

Nick Cutsumpas (01:45):

Ooh, man. Chickpeas. Yes, chickpeas for sure. I eat chickpeas every day in some form. Hummus. Amazing. You can make hummus so many different ways. My roasted bee hummus is the die for. Then you can make chickpea burgers and you can do crispy chickpeas, chickpea cookie dough, it never ends. Chickpeas are the best and are high protein.

Ella Magers, MSW (02:08):

Yes. Oh my gosh. You probably don’t know this about me, but I’m a Chick P aholic.

Nick Cutsumpas (02:12):

Same. Okay.

Ella Magers, MSW (02:13):

Same. Awesome. Something we have in common. Yeah. All right. Name a time you were in the right place at the right time in your life.

Nick Cutsumpas (02:21):

Oh, I mean, it has to be getting into plants. I mean, this was back in New York. I was working a corporate job for I B M and a couple other startups, and I just happened to start getting into plants because my mom had told me, if I’m going to live at home rent free, you have to do something around the house. I asked her what I should do, and she suggested I start a garden, so it was the right place, right time. The plant boom had just started picking up. I moved to New York City and bought a hundred house plants for my home, and it just kind of snowballed from there.

Ella Magers, MSW (02:54):

I love it. And we’re going to dive a little deeper into that in a moment, A quirk or fun fact that most people don’t know about you.

Nick Cutsumpas (03:05):

Fun fact. I played college baseball and was actually a personal trainer for six years, so when it comes to body and movement and all the people commenting, oh, soy boy, where are you vegan? I’m like, Hey, if you want to have a pushup contest, let’s do it right now. Let’s go. And I think that surprises people when they realize, whoa, you are really into sports and you’re really into fitness, all these other things, and that breaks the mold of what people assume a vegan man is.

Ella Magers, MSW (03:38):

I absolutely love that. Breaking those stereotypes is so important. All right. Last one. What message would you put on a billboard for thousands of people to see every day

Nick Cutsumpas (03:50):

Go by a plant now. And the reason is, is because plants are stepping stones. They are the botanical bridge that can guide us to a more environmentally enlightened state. And if we are just not exposed to plants on a daily basis, we will not develop that excitement, that empathy, that appreciation that we need in order to become better stewards of the earth. So go by the plant.

Ella Magers, MSW (04:16):

Yes. I love it. Okay, so let’s dive a little bit deeper into what you call your germination story. You kind of gave us a great little intro there with about your mom’s house and what I’m really interested also, maybe beginning with that period following baseball, when you were navigating this shift in your identity, which I know can be a really tough for athletes to do, right? Can you talk a little bit about that?

Nick Cutsumpas (04:45):

Yeah. This is something I think about quite a bit actually, because you talk about right place, right time. I had spent 22 years of my life building this identity of your body is what makes you valuable, what you can do with your body, and all of a sudden that thing that everyone praises you for is gone. That identity of being an athlete is gone now. You can still be active and you can still compete, do this and that, but it’s, it’s over. And that was hard for me. And I don’t think it’s any surprise that during that kind of brief window of trying to figure out what adulthood was that my mom suggested the first thing that came to mind like, oh, you like food? You like being outside. Why not try gardening? That immediately filled a void. Whether that’s healthy or not, I’ll have to talk to my therapist about, but it became one of those things where I was looking for something was presented to me, something that was foreign, something I knew nothing about.


There were no plants in my home growing up ever. So the fact that I was able to pick up something that quickly, I think is honestly something I’m so grateful for because there are many people out there who still haven’t found it. They still haven’t found what makes them tick and what really gets them going and excited to wake up every morning. So that was a critical period, and there are days where I still very much miss competition and being at my physical best, but the plants are a softer skill, and that nurturing skill is something I want to continue fostering as I look to have a family one day and start going down these next phases of life. But man, that transition was not easy.

Ella Magers, MSW (06:32):

And it’s really interesting how you talked about going from baseball, very masculine sports athlete to then the plants and this whole idea of breaking stereotypes. Was there any of that going through your head? Did you have to navigate that side of things like the masculine being a man? Did that come into play at all? Yeah,

Nick Cutsumpas (06:58):

You’re absolutely right. And that came into a play into play a few different ways. Number one, all my college teammates were like, dude, what are you doing with your Instagram? Why are you taking pictures with plants? Why are you doing all this stuff? And you have a lot of folks saying like, oh, are you trying to be an influencer? I was like, no, I’m just sharing what I like, and people seem to like it too. And if I can help someone get into plants for the first time or start eating plant-based food for the first time, whatever it may be, I’m going to do it. And I always joke that everyone’s a skeptic until they always believed in you from the beginning. They’re like, oh, yeah, I knew you would do. No, you didn’t.


I had my own family members saying, oh, I’m so proud of you. I knew you were going to. No, you didn’t. When I told you I quit my six figure job with benefits to go play in the dirt, you thought I was crazy. But now that you have a little success, it’s like, oh, yeah, of course. But that was hard. That was a difficult time, especially since so many of my old teammates were in the city with me and I was saying, Hey, I can’t hang out. I’m going to go plant some woman’s apartment on the upper West side. It was very different, but I’m grateful for that moment of discomfort, and I think it was very necessary to reach that next level.

Ella Magers, MSW (08:20):

Yeah, absolutely. And w where in the timeline did the plant-based eating go along with the plants? I’m curious about that.

Nick Cutsumpas (08:28):

So that happened about three years later, starting in 2017. I move into the city, I get into the house plants, and then I start thinking to myself, I’m like, huh. If I care about the plants that I’m growing, I start caring about the earth in a different way. And if I’m caring about the earth in a different way, I start also living up to the idea that I’m an animal lover, right? Oh, I love animals. Like, oh, you love some animals, but not all of them. And the documentary that got me was conspiracy because that documentary got a lot of people really, really good, and it had a very strong environmental focus. So once I understood the environmental impact and then I need to start having my food values, the single greatest individual action I do every day needs to reflect my love of the earth and all of its beings. Then the switch started happening. I started off being vegan at home, and then when I’d go out, be a little bit more flexible, and then two years later became fully vegan. So we’re coming up on year, almost year four now.

Ella Magers, MSW (09:38):

Okay. And during this, what would you say if I had to say, okay, what’s your life’s purpose? What’s your purpose or mission? And those can be separate, but how do you view purpose and mission and what yours are?

Nick Cutsumpas (09:54):

I want to make the world greener than when I found it. And that is a tough task given the expansion of cities and the expansion of oil pipelines in Alaska and various other issues that we’re having as a society, a culture, a world in many ways, but even if it’s in a local area. For me, taking land, regenerating that land, being able to promote native plants that are benefiting the local ecosystem, because I think sometimes we forget we are animals. We like to think, oh, we’re above all this stuff. No, we are the same. We are all the same. And if we start treating our environments, even our homes as living, breathing ecosystems, we’ll start being more cognizant and thoughtful about what we put into the earth, what we take out of the earth, how much we put in versus how much we take away. And if I can inspire someone, be it in LA or New York, but honestly, the best messages I get are from those in Ohio. Like, Hey, because of you, I ate a vegan meal this week because of you. I planted a garden this week. That’s awesome. That brings me so much energy, and it’s a huge motivating force in everything that I do.

Ella Magers, MSW (11:08):

One thing I really admire about how you work, so you’ve got this very big mission, this very big purpose, but you’re so strategic and focused, and it seems to me like you really meet people where they are. And how did you learn how to do that with this platform that you built? And before we even get into that, okay, I’m going to, sorry, not sorry. I really want our audience to know the story of the Instagram post that was your breakthrough post that gave you this momentum that build helped that you build your empire.

Nick Cutsumpas (11:43):

Oh boy.

Ella Magers, MSW (11:44):


Nick Cutsumpas (11:48):

All right. There’s a few different moments, but I’ll start with the first one because it’s more on the plant side. Okay. There’s an account out there called Boys with Plants, and it’s just for cute guys with plants, sometimes wearing clothes, sometimes not. And I had just taken a photo one morning, I felt good, took a photo holding a fiddly fig without a shirt on. And then I woke up the next day and had 5,000 new followers. I was like, how did this happen? And had a lot of dms from some different men around the world. Cause it’s surprising, but believe it or not, the house plant world is predominantly women and gay men. So when you see a man posing with plants, a lot of people just assume. So I got a lot of dms that day that was kind of funny. But more recently, a big moment of growth, actually, this was interesting and a big learning experience for me.


I posted about eating an egg for the first time in four years, and this was a controversial post, to say the least, but what happened was is I went to a community garden that rescues chickens from hatcheries. The woman there, she’s vegetarian, she saves these chickens who would otherwise be killed and forced into factory farming. And she runs this community garden nonprofit to support adults with disabilities. The chickens are fed proper nutrition. They’re not killed. After they start laying, they live out a beautiful, happy life. I said, you know what? This fits my values of what being a vegan is for me, for me. So I shared a video saying, I’m a vegan, but I’m going to eat this egg today and here’s why. And the world blew up. Oh, I bet 6 million views later. I had people messaging me saying, how dare you call yourself a vegan?


You’re not a vegan, all this stuff. But at the same time, for every one of those, I had 10 messages saying, thank you for make this makes sense to me. This is rational. You’re the first rational vegan I’ve ever met before. And I gained 30,000 followers from that. And I realized, I was like, okay. And I haven’t had an egg since because I don’t really look for them. And I would never in any circumstance eat something that required an animal to die. But in those instances, I was like, taking a different approach is going to help the movement in my mission to get people to eat more plants than being on this so far polarized extreme saying, you can’t do this. You can’t do this, you can’t do that. Because if I’m on the fence about whether I want to go vegan or not, and I see this super intense person coming at me with sometimes quite aggressive language, some of the messages had, I’m turned off by that and I retreat back to the safe area. I want to be in the middle, and sometimes the middle is the loneliest place to be. But if I’m going to make change and get people to change their own habits, it’s what I have to do.

Ella Magers, MSW (15:03):

Wow. I didn’t know about that story. That’s so powerful. The lessons learned from it. Yeah. And your point about being in the middle and navigating these decisions as they come based on your values and really examining what’s important to you. And if it aligns, then you make one decision. If it doesn’t, you make the other. And that’s what you did and you shared and wow, awesome.

Nick Cutsumpas (15:33):

It was an intense, yeah, I bet. It was an intense

Ella Magers, MSW (15:35):

There. How did that feel? How did you deal with internally? Was that tough to get all the, I

Nick Cutsumpas (15:42):

Mean, I guess it was challenging. Yeah, it was challenging at times because some of the messages were very hateful from supposedly people who have the most compassion. So that was interesting to see. And some people brought up some interesting alternatives and said, Hey, would you eat roadkill? Many people eat roadkill because environmentally speaking, it’s better for the planet. Nothing goes to waste. And the animals already been killed. And I was like, oh, I wouldn’t do that. And they’re like, why not? It fits those values. I was like, huh, I don’t mean, maybe that’s just me now. I don’t want to eat anything that tastes like an animal in that way. But yeah, it was pretty thought-provoking and a lot of self-reflection and learning to just tune out the noise. Because social media is a scary place.

Ella Magers, MSW (16:32):

It is. And you’re on it a lot. I mean, you’re so consistent with that. So back to this idea of your purpose and then using your coaching and using your platform to fulfill this, but you kind of dial it back and start with some very simple steps people can take. Is that, how strategic is that, and how do you go about deciding what the content you’re going to put out there and how do you keep a private life? You’re So being consistent with putting stuff out into the public,

Nick Cutsumpas (17:03):

The private life is much harder to keep a secret, I guess. I’m not trying to hide anything, but people start asking you questions that are beyond the scope of what you are trying to portray. And I think people forget that it’s a job. Some people might go to an office nine to five, but I go behind my garden and start making content there. And it’s different level of privacy or lack thereof. So it’s a challenge sometimes to stay consistent, but the goal for me is never to oversaturate with knowledge. It’s not about the knowledge. Anyone can Google and find the same information. Roughly, yes, I’ve taken classes at the Botanical Garden and finished my Master gardener certification here in Los Angeles. I know a lot, but so do a lot of other people. It’s all about delivery. If I can make you feel not just the information, but you are confident, if I can get you to crack a smile and take some of the stress off of being a plant parent or trying a vegan meal for the first time, I’ll do that.


Whatever I have to do to make that content relatable and as approachable as possible. Cause I’m not out here trying to show off how much I know because a lot of my own knowledge and a lot of the things I’ve learned and my own beliefs regarding some of these things are more intense than what people want to see anyway. Most people are not going to be buying a hundred percent plastic free groceries. It’s hard, but I’m going to just show you, Hey, here’s how to use produce bags in a different way. Here’s how I regrow this veggie when I’m harvesting it from my garden. All these different things are meant to be that first step to get someone excited, and then they start coming back for the next level of knowledge after that.

Ella Magers, MSW (18:47):

Got it. And how challenging is it to be able to move through your day, being really present and not being like, oh, but this should be shared. So should I be sharing it or should is how do you structure that

Nick Cutsumpas (19:02):

It, it’s honestly a real struggle for me because I want to be present and I still want to make sure the algorithm doesn’t hate me, right? So there is a balancing act of what I’ve kind of found a good rhythm with is filming things, but not posting in the moment. I don’t want to go to a beautiful botanical garden with a friend and then be like, Hey, sorry, two minutes. I have to go post this on Instagram. Never want be that person. So instead, I kind of use it as a photo video journal for the day. This is what my day was, and then I’m going to recap it after and share what happened after, sometimes even two or three days after or longer. But being present is the most important thing to me. And sometimes with work, it’s hard because I could plant that garden in an hour, but it’ll take me three hours because I have to talk about it and showcase the plants and film it and do all that other stuff. So it’s an ever-evolving process, and I’m still learning it.

Ella Magers, MSW (20:04):

Yeah, I can only imagine. I’m curious about how the Netflix show came to be and that story and what that was like.

Nick Cutsumpas (20:14):

Instant dream Home.

Ella Magers, MSW (20:16):

No, sorry, the

Nick Cutsumpas (20:17):

Oh, big flower fight.

Ella Magers, MSW (20:18):

Yeah, the big flower fight. Well, I’m interested in both of ’em, but I’m haven’t seen, we’ll start there.

Nick Cutsumpas (20:23):

So the big flower fight for those that haven’t seen it is basically just great British Bake off, but for giant 10 foot plant sculptures, very, very fun. And this was something I got asked to audition for back in 2019, and I was working a full-time job then it was a random DM from a casting agent, and I do the audition, I get the show with my partner Taylor, and I went to my boss, who was a famous celebrity woman at the time, and I said, Hey, can I take a sabbatical? Can I take an unpaid sabbatical? And she said, no, if you’re going to do this, you have to quit. So I was like, all right. I quit and took a big risk and ended up spending not as long on the show as I would’ve liked to spend on the show, but it was a great stepping stone for the Instagram and being able to build a following in a different way and just kind of skyrocketed from there. So forever grateful for that experience and still have lots of lifelong friends from it.

Ella Magers, MSW (21:39):

Fun. That’s just sounds, the show name is so fun. So it was great. Yeah. Awesome. And then the other show, what year was that?

Nick Cutsumpas (21:49):

So Instant Dream Home came out last August, and that show is more so about your typical home renovation, except we do it in 12 hours. So it was hectic, it was stressful, it was wild. I handled all of the exterior work on that. So all of the landscaping was very chaotic, but very, very fun to see the families come home and see an entirely new curb appeal for their home as a whole new facade. So it was an unbelievable experience, something I will never forget. And it just more so kind of the work that I do now with my own landscape design business, just not in 12 hours.

Ella Magers, MSW (22:29):

I mean, I got stressed out watching that show physically my body would, I was like, oh my God, are they going to going to get it done? How are they doing this? But everybody seemed like they worked really well together.

Nick Cutsumpas (22:41):

Yeah, totally. The chemistry was fantastic. And one thing I wish this show showed more of was just how much stuff we did that didn’t get covered from the camera. There’s so many things that happened and things that I get excited about, but maybe didn’t make the final cut. So it was a great learning experience. I love that team. Paige, dare, Danielle and Eric are still so good friends, and yeah, I hope we can come back. We’ll see.

Ella Magers, MSW (23:13):

Amazing. Before we get into your book, I’m curious about lessons that you have taken with you and benefited as a human being and a plant entrepreneurs, you call it from baseball and also from plants. What lessons, how have those things been teachers in your life?

Nick Cutsumpas (23:34):

Let’s start with baseball. Yeah. Since my coach used to say that baseball is most like life because you got to go out and play every day. The baseball schedule, you’re playing four or five games a week, major leagues, it’s 162 games a year. If you have a bad day, doesn’t matter. You got to go out the next day and do it again. And that is very much a parallel to life. If you’re experiencing, especially as a plant entrepreneur, there’s a lot of failures, and baseball is a game of failure. Inherently. You’re going to have to take your lumps sometimes, and you’re going to have to go through tough times, and you just have to wake up the next day and keep powering through and keep growing. And that’s a good segue into the lessons that the plants have taught me too, is because no matter what you’re doing, there’s going to be opportunity to grow something.


The challenging part becomes when do you learn to prune as you grow? Because if you’re growing, you’re growing like this and you start leaning, you’re not balanced. You have to be able to grow this way so that you can actually have a solid foundation. And sometimes you might be growing something completely different in a different direction. And if that’s going to take you away from your mission of growing up towards the sun, you might have to, as difficult as it may be, prune back that side of your business, prune back a relationship, prune back, something that will help you get to where you’re growing and grow even more from that.

Ella Magers, MSW (25:08):

I love these parallels. They’re so fascinating. And I know you talk about mindful neglect. Can you talk about that a little

Nick Cutsumpas (25:15):

Bit? Yes. Mindful neglect, the lazy man’s approach to plant care, but honestly, it works. So this is a concept that talk a lot about my book, and it stems from this idea of understanding your ecosystem in your home and everything around it, because the right plant for the right space will require less work than a plant that’s not fit for that space. If I have a shady basement with one tiny window, I shouldn’t put the notoriously fickle fiddly fig down there shouldn’t even if I see it on hgtv, I’m not doing it. But people force it. And because they force it, it requires more of their attention. If you pick the right plant for the right space, mindful neglect comes into play now because the plant’s doing its thing, it knows what to do, it’s in the right conditions. All I have to do is check in with it.


I’m mindful, I check in how you doing? Few positive words of encouragement, and then we’re moving on. And I think the same can be said for even some human relationships where, and this is not all the time, but sometimes you need to acknowledge whether it’s a partner or a friend or a parent, acknowledge where they’re at and let them do their thing. Because if we’re that helicopter plant parent that’s constantly fussing and doing this, it’s going to inhibit our plant’s growth rather than help it. So just checking in daily is a practice that I think so many plant parents could benefit from, and it’s very proactive,

Ella Magers, MSW (26:44):

It’s very empowering. I think that’s the piece of coaching that I really enjoy, is that it is when done, done well, it’s very empowering and you are not making the decisions. You’re empowering people to make those decisions. Can you talk about how your book came to be? I know you got approached by the publishing company. What was that process and how’d you name the book? Was it them? Was it you?

Nick Cutsumpas (27:10):

That was a pretty unique process. The publisher, Abrams reached out to me and they said, Hey, we want you to write this book. I said about what they’re like about you and what you do in your philosophies, and you have to take a step back a little bit to realize, okay, I have developed a pretty different P O V when it comes to the plants, especially as it relates to the environment. A lot of plant people can talk about all the things in the world when it comes to taking care of their plants, but I want to go with a step farther. It’s like, yes, the small plant on your desk is great, but if we can learn to take care of that, then we got to start taking care of the big plant we all live on. So with that approach, that’s kind of what inspired the thesis of the book.


And Plant Coach was a name I’d already come up with because I had coached for years, I had coached baseball and basketball in my hometown and had very fond memories of being that coach versus a consultant. A coach is a little bit more and someone that’s going to give you everything you need to know in order to thrive, but at the end of the day, they’re not going to do it for you. You have to be the one to do it and apply it. So I thought it was very fitting, and the book came together after a year and a half and just launched last October.

Ella Magers, MSW (28:27):

Congratulations. I mean, that’s a huge deal when the publisher comes to you. I

Nick Cutsumpas (28:32):

Mean, yeah, that was awesome. That was an unexpected win for the farmer Nick brand here. But I’ve realized now that there’s a lot more that goes into this, and you need to, yes, you might get handed something first, but there’s not a guarantee you’re going to get handed something second or third, and you got to fight for those opportunities. So it was a good start, but just got to keep growing from there.

Ella Magers, MSW (28:56):

Yes. Can you talk about the shifts in plant perspective that many people might need that are listening? And I’m going to, let me just be vulnerable here for a minute. One of those people, I’ve cared for animals since I was a little kid. I went vegetarian, I stopped eating them at seven, went vegan at 15. I like care for animals, and I keep them alive very long times when it comes to plants like scared shitless. I’m not going to lie because I don’t want to kill them. So I think I let fear take over. I really do.

Nick Cutsumpas (29:28):

Yeah. Not the only one. You’re not alone. Thank you. So the good news is that most people don’t kill plants. It’s the wrong environments, like we talked about before. So I’m taking you off the hook a little bit. That should alleviate some anxiety. The biggest shift in plant perspective that I’ve had to teach my clients, and granted these are folks living in cities like New York and LA, is that your plants are alive. And I know that sounds silly to say, but I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve had that says, oh great, the plants here, put it over there. Well, it can’t go over there and we have to do something different with it, and you’re going to have to take care of this. And it’s not furniture. I always say nature not furniture. That’s a big thing for me. Once you understand that your plants are alive and go through cycles, you start to view things differently. I had a client who will remain nameless, but I had a client who sent me an email, Nick, the landscape, you planted terrible. All the leaves are gone. This was in December in New York.


And I turned to my colleague Emily, who was my first ever employee, and I said, I don’t think she understands how nature works. I don’t think she knows that the plants and the trees lose their leaves. Cause we planted all desiduous plants. They lose their leaves in the fall, and we had to write an email saying, hi, actually this is normal. This is what’s supposed to happen. If you wanted evergreens, we could have talked about that instead. So never underestimate how much someone doesn’t know about plants. And once they realize that they are alive and do go through cycles, there is more forgiveness that can be made for some of those imperfections, which are totally natural.

Ella Magers, MSW (31:18):

Okay. So how often do you recommend, this just popped in my head, orchids, because when they fall off, it’s like a stick coming out of the, I mean, do I mean,

Nick Cutsumpas (31:30):

Yeah, the flower spike,

Ella Magers, MSW (31:31):

Right? Yeah. It’s not like the most beautiful, I mean, no offense to orchids now. I feel bad even saying that, but do you know what I’m trying to say? I’m just wondering what you do with them when they’re just a stick and how you care for them and are so respectful and loving to them, but know that they’re not like the most gorgeous.

Nick Cutsumpas (31:53):

So for those who are trying to visualize it, you have your orchid, which has the leaves. They are empathetic, meaning that they grow in the wild on top of other plants. So you’ll see those big roots kind of coming out of the pot and whatnot. Then they have their flower spike, which shoots up straight and has the blooms. But when the blooms are done, it’s just a random spike and it’s kind of silly. So what I would do, and what I am currently doing is you cut that spike at the base and all you’re doing is now treating the plant and the orchid like a regular plant. You can water it, you can mist it, do whatever you need to do to keep that green alive. If the foliage is alive, your orchid will eventually, it helps to give it some fertilizer. And picking up orchid fertilizer is a great way to jumpstart that process. But getting your orchids three bloom is such a satisfying part of plant care. And don’t give up on it. Don’t throw it in the trash. Don’t compost it yet. Give it a shot.

Ella Magers, MSW (32:55):

Do you have other, besides your lovely client who didn’t know that leaves fall off in the winter? Do you have another couple stories for us or anything that pops in your head of fun stories, inspiring stories, funny stories for clients? Yeah.

Nick Cutsumpas (33:12):

Yeah. Oh man, there’s so many stories. I’ll tell you a more sentimental story. So had this client who called me and she said, Hey, I just bought 15 plants. I’ve never really had plants before. I just bought 15 of them. Can you come over and help me? And I show up and she has a three-year-old son and she’s got all these new plants in the apartment. She literally knew nothing about them. And we go through and we start explaining what needs to be done. And I ask, Hey, by chance, what inspired you to go out and just buy all these giant plants? And she opened up to me and said that she had had a miscarriage and still had that desire, whether that is mentally or also even physiologically, hormonally, to nurture, to take care of something. And her taking care of these plants was filling a void that would’ve been filled with her second child.


And that was really powerful for me. To see a woman go through that stage of grief and use plants as a median to transfer that emotion and that nurturing feelings to something else that’s living, that was really special. That was a really cool moment. At another client, and this is a kind of funny and sad story at the same time, she’s a famous fashion influencer in New York City, and I arrive at the plant shop and I’m dressed my t-shirt and jeans, and she shows up. She’s dressed to the nine, she’s got the whole outfit. She brought up professional photographer. It was a thing, but she was so into it, and we made our purchases, and I get in the backseat and I look over and she’s got a plant on her lap. She’s like talking to it lovingly. And then she puts her face in the soil, literally put her nose in the soil of the plant, breathe it all in, looks me in the eye and says, I can’t remember the last time I touched the earth.


You had this beautiful woman living a luxurious lifestyle, fulfilled in so many ways, putting her face in a potted plant because she’d been deprived of nature for so long. If that doesn’t take you away from the materialist mindset that we sometimes fall victim to in cities like New York, LA, and beyond, I don’t know what will. But it was a very powerful moment for me, despite the comedy of it. All right, we are humans. We need plants in our environment. We’ve developed and evolved 99.999% of our human history in natural environments. And now we wonder why we have health problems and mental health issues because we’re living in concrete boxes. It doesn’t make sense.

Ella Magers, MSW (36:13):

How hopeful are you or how optimistic do you choose to live? And I mean, you seem like a very optimistic human, but these are complicated times in the world, and between the climate and just chaos, how do you think about it? How do you feel about it? What words do you have for us about that?

Nick Cutsumpas (36:37):

I am forever the optimist, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be realistic about where we’re at. I’m not blindly optimistic. I think for me personally, I will, would struggle to bring children into the world in this way. I do want to have kids, and I do want it to be potentially a combination depending on who my partner is in the future, a combination potentially of a child that we have ourselves and also adopt. I would adopt all the kids if it was just up to me, because I do not know what world we will live in. From a climate change perspective, a natural disaster perspective, a water rights and competition perspective, climate change will further exacerbate social issues and social inequities. And when all of a sudden the rich can afford clean air and clean water, which kind of already is the case, in many ways, those problems are only going to get worse if we don’t get better. So I am optimistic about what I can do at a very local level. I will call my congressman, I will write the letters and do what needs to be done, but we have to be realistic about where we’re at and the changes that we aren’t making, how that’s going to impact future generations.

Ella Magers, MSW (38:00):

Well, I appreciate everything that you’re doing. What is next for you? Do you have any new projects that you’re inspired by or directions that you want to take? Yeah.

Nick Cutsumpas (38:13):

I’ve got two projects I’m working on now. One will probably be in the fall and the other one next year, but the first one for the fall is creating a handbook curriculum around plants and sustainability for kids. I love working with kids, having coached for many years, that was a huge passion of mine. And I think there’s a gap when it comes to role models on the eco and plant side of things, especially for young boys. Why is it that so many social issues get gendered? Why is it that straight white guys aren’t speaking out on issues in society? Because we’re not taught from a young age that things impact us and that we need to be nurturing. So if I can come in and say, Hey, you could grow a beard and love sports and roughhouse and do all this stuff, but still care about the flowers in your garden, I think that’s a beautiful thing.


And I think more young boys like elementary school level and beyond need to have a role model that they can look to develop that nurturing side of themselves. That’s a big goal for September. And then come January, this is more geared towards the adult men per se. I’ll be coming out with a meal plan and fitness routine all geared towards plant-based, of course, and showing people that like, Hey, you can still be strong on a plant-based diet. Here’s what I eat. Here’s the workouts that I do. Most of them aren’t even going to going to include weights because I’m on the road so much. I carry around a resistance band, and I do a lot of pullups and pushups and sit ups. So being able to eliminate the excuses that people make for these things. Oh, you can’t build muscle on a plant-based diet. Here’s high protein protein meals. You can have, oh, you can’t build muscle on a plant-based diet from a fitness perspective. Here’s all the body weight exercises that I do. If I can just provide more of these resources, I’m going to eliminate all of the potential objections someone can make for why you can’t achieve a certain lifestyle. And once you do that, it just, it’s up to them. And I hope to inspire people in that way. But that one’s going to be a very fun project that takes advantage of some of the old fitness skills. Back in the day,

Ella Magers, MSW (40:27):

You might have to take your shirt off again for that one.

Nick Cutsumpas (40:29):

Oh boy. World naked gardening days coming up. I got to prepare for that.

Ella Magers, MSW (40:36):

Oh, this is fantastic. Yes, I’m super into calisthenics over the last years, so I, I’m, I’m totally with you on that. That’s phenomenal. I love it. Farmer. Nick, where can people find you? Of course, we’ll put this in the show notes, but what’s the best way,

Nick Cutsumpas (40:51):

Farmer Nick on IG Farmer, Nick underscore Nick on TikTok, basically the same. And then farmer nick.com. If you have any plant questions, feel free to DM me. And obviously if you have any plant projects, I would be happy to help.

Ella Magers, MSW (41:03):

Any final awards for our listeners.

Nick Cutsumpas (41:06):

Buy the Plant

Ella Magers, MSW (41:08):


Nick Cutsumpas (41:08):

Buy the Plant now. Do it now.

Ella Magers, MSW (41:11):

Awesome. Thanks so much for sharing your time with me here.

Nick Cutsumpas (41:14):

Yeah, thank you so much for having me.

Ella Magers, MSW (41:16):

My pleasure. Fun.

Nick Cutsumpas (41:20):


Ella Magers, MSW (41:20):

It. That’s so great. I have this dream.


We are humans. We need plants in our environment. We’ve developed and evolved 99.9999% of our human history in natural environments. And now we wonder why we have health problems and mental health issues because we’re living in concrete boxes. It doesn’t make sense.  -Nick Cutsumpas

You are in for a real treat with this episode. I had such a blast chatting with Farmer Nick, who is just so, well, down to earth (pun intended)! His energy is just infectious and his passion for all things green is inspiring. 

We start this one out with a lightning round where you learn…

  • 3 daily habits that keep Nick on the path of holistic health and wellness.
  • If he had to choose, what Nick thinks is the most versatile plant food on the planet.
  • A time that Nick was in the right place at the right time.
  • A quirk or fun fact that most people don’t know about Nick.
  • What message Nick would put on a billboard for thousands of people to see every day.

We then dive into your “germination story” as Nick calls it, starting with the period following his baseball career, when he was navigating a shift in his identity that can be really tough for athletes.

Some of the many topics we cover in this awesome episode…

  • Nick’s experiences shooting the Netflix shows ‘The Big Flower Fight’ and ‘Instant Dream Home’
  • The fascinating stories about how Nick grew his Instagram account exponentially overnight.
  • How Nick balances holding his private time sacred and being present, with all the demands of being consistent with posting content that has been so instrumental in gaining and maintaining such a large and engaged audience?
  • How Nick’s “going vegan” story and how his diet aligns with his overall purpose and mission in life. 
  • How both baseball and plants have been incredible teachers for Nick.
  • How his book came to be.
  • Some of the shifts in “plant-perspective” that have helped many people build a healthy relationship with not only their own house plants, but also the “big plant” (the planet).
  • Fun and heart-felt stories involving some of his amazing plant-coaching clients.

We also venture into Nick’s INCREDIBLY CONTROVERSIAL video that opened the door to a ton of scrutiny from vegans around the world – because I believe it’s VITAL that we are able to have these kinds of conversations from a place of profound curiosity and fierce compassion for ALL living beings (human and non-human animals alike)!

And although I personally would not choose to eat an egg, I can respect Nick’s reasoning, AND am open to the possibility that his share may have even benefited the vegan movement. I encourage you to listen to the full interview before jumping to any conclusions!

Official Bio: 

Nick is a “plantrepreneur” who is passionate about all things green. As a full-time plant coach, urban gardener, and landscape designer, Nick’s mission is to leave the earth greener than when he found it – giving people the knowledge and confidence they need to create their own green spaces in the pursuit of environmental action and social justice. 

Nick has more than 150 clients in New York + California and has been featured in the NY Times, Vogue, Food Network, Business Insider, and Goop and the Netflix original series “The Big Flower Fight”.

He is a host on Netflix’s Instant Dream Home and author of Plant Coach: The Beginner’s Guide To Caring for Plants and the Planet.



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If you’re ready to ditch dieting and build a plant-strong body for life, CLICK HERE to learn more and book a consultation.




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