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When Arlington resident Michael Morgan suffered an anxiety attack, he had no idea that the source of his recovery would one day become a business.
The attack was a slow burn. Morgan started feeling unsteady on his feet and a few months later, he could not get out of bed.
After seeking therapy, he realized his physical state stemmed from business and personal troubles: smarting from two startups that sank, due to legal and financial missteps, and reeling from his father’s recent cancer diagnosis.
He said the attack “was 100% related to the entrepreneur life” while the diagnosis “hit me like a ton of bricks.”
Morgan, a biochemist, has a green thumb, and his first steps outside his house were to his backyard, where he healed through gardening. He did not intend to turn his hobby into a company but his friends saw his gift and spotted the business opportunity. This year, Morgan launched Shimo, an organic gardening kit for novices with a little space.
Sustainability runs like a vein through his three ventures. Morgan’s last two ventures included a sustainable phone and Everblume, a hydroponic appliance that nearly made it to the business-launching TV show Shark Tank.
But unlike these two, Shimo grew more organically, he said.
“Entrepreneurs will often start by creating a product and finding customers,” he said. “This time, it was the customer saying, ‘I think you have a good product.”
Shimo takes Morgan back to the root of gardening, too.
“When you think about growing food, it’s really that simple: soil, seed, water, sun,” the biochemist and entrepreneur said. “Why over-complicate it?”
The kit ($50-$60) ships to customers’ doors and includes 100% organic soil, seeds, plant food and a grow bag made from recycled material. Morgan said Shimo makes growing food less intimidating for newbies.
“People ask me, ‘Why is this unique?'” he said. “I tell them, ‘Go to Lowe’s or Home Depot one weekend, go to the Lawn and Garden Center, and then tell me where you’re going to start. There are thousands of seeds and fertilizers to choose from. Then, they get it.”
Families can grow delicious lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, and more for as little as two dollars per harvest, which he said could be a boon to people who live in food deserts.
The bags and the soil will last several years and the recurring costs are just new seeds, fertilizer and an annual soil amendment, Morgan said.
“Shimo uses the concepts we’ve used for several thousands of years and puts a spin on it for an urban or suburban environment, where people don’t have space or access to land, but still are interested in growing their own fresh food,” he said.
With his bounty, Morgan said he has pickled unripe cherry tomatoes to use in martinis instead of olives, made sage sticks and lavender oil, and is working with a D.C.-based mixologist to craft a cocktail using the flowers from mustard greens. He is compiling these ideas and other tips and tricks for his website’s blog.
Ultimately, Morgan aims to cultivate a community of micro-homesteaders around Shimo. He envisions people swapping knowledge, experiences, stories, as well as their own recipes and DIY ideas.
“I know it’s cliché, but when you think about agriculture, society, and history has been, it has always been community-driven,” he said.
Photos courtesy Shimo
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At Generation Hope, we’re dedicated to supporting teen parents in college as they work toward earning their degrees. We are in need of caring child care volunteers for upcoming events on Saturday, October 21st (in Washington, DC), and Saturday, November 4th (in Arlington, VA). Join our growing volunteer community and support us at an event this fall!
At all of our events, we provide free onsite child care for the children of the teen parents we serve, creating a nurturing environment for the kiddos while their parents learn valuable life skills and build community.
If you enjoy working with children and are looking to make an immediate impact in your community, please visit https://www.generationhope.org/volunteer to learn more.
Join us for Arlington’s biggest civil rights & social justice event of the year. The banquet is back in person at the Arlington Campus of George Mason University.
Our keynote speaker this year is Symone Sanders from MSNBC and former Chief of Staff for Vice-President Kamala Harris.
The Master of Ceremonies is Joshua Cole, former state delegate, NAACP President, and local pastor.
Tickets/seating are limited. Purchase your ticket today! Sponsorship opportunities available.
Join us at Church of the Covenant on Military Road every other Wednesday afternoon from 4:00-5:30pm beginning on October 18th for The Backyard: After-School Kids Club. Cost is free! The program will provide recreation, snacks, Bible stories, and other fun