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My name is: Michael O’Brien.

I’m known for being: An urban farmer. 

I first became passionate about this when: My dad would plant a vegetable garden every summer. When I moved to LA five years ago, what started as a weekend project building a vegetable garden on my driveway ended up expanding into a business, which allows me to share my passion for organic farming methods and design.

I love it because: It has allowed me to explore my creative side, which had gone dormant as I worked my way up the corporate ladder. Every day in the garden is a new opportunity to be innovative and expand my knowledge. I always find myself dreaming up new ideas and, because of it, I have become much more connected to the earth in a spiritual way.

It became my job when: I had friends who were coming to me with questions and for help setting up their own gardens. I realized that there was a way to develop my passion for gardening and my love for design into a more meaningful career.  

One thing you may not know is: That you don’t need to have a large space in order to grow an edible garden. My strategy is to grow foods that (a) we eat the most of and (b) are the most expensive to buy organically. For us, this means lots of spinach, strawberries, tomatoes, herbs, cucumbers and peppers.

With proper planning and placement of the plants, better known as “companion planting,” you can maximize your growing area while creating an ecosystem that is less susceptible to disease and pests.

African basil is at the center of every garden I plant. It is a great companion plant for attracting bees and emits a sweet aroma that you can’t help but stop to smell.

This work makes me feel connected to the Earth because: Organic gardening does not use harmful chemicals. 

I’m currently at home in: My house in LA. 

Staying at home all the time is challenging, but one way I’ve kept myself in a good headspace is: Beginning every morning in my garden with a cup of coffee.

One way, gardening can help you stay sane right now is: By planting your own garden! Even if you have a small space, container planting is a good way to give it a try without a hassle or major commitment. Depending on where you live, April is a great month to get those summer crops in the ground.

One lesson I’m taking from this time in my house that I’ll carry with me after this period ends is: The importance of finding a space in your home where you can meditate regularly. It has always been a challenge for me, but, now that I have the time and a garden to do it in, I want to make sure it is a habit I continue once the stay-at-home orders are lifted.   

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