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Meet Christy Wilhelmi of Gardenerd

Today we’d like to introduce you to Christy Wilhelmi.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Christy. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I started gardening 25 years ago when I became a vegetarian. The more I learned about our food system, the more I wanted control over it. When I moved to Los Angeles I obtained a plot at Ocean View Farms organic community garden. Eventually, people started asking me for advice because my garden plot was so prolific, and more often than not, people would say, “You should do this for a living.” So I invested $3500 in the development of a logo and the initial design of my website in 2003-2005 and created Gardenerd.

At first, it was a t-shirt shop on Cafe Press and an advice blog, then I began teaching classes at Santa Monica College and out of my home. By 2008 I had begun designing gardens and consulting, so left my day job to pursue Gardenerd full-time. It took a few years to get going, but I had the support of my husband along the way. In 2012 a publisher approached me to write a gardening book for them, Gardening for Geeks. Since then I have written a second book and am working on a novel (about gardening, of course). I love that gardening is not only my obsession, but it’s my profession.

Has it been a smooth road?
The road has been bumpy. At first, no one knew what a “gardening coach” was, nor did they understand the value of that skill set. I set an hourly price and for years customers balked at my rates because they expected “mow-blow-and-go” prices for expert advice. Finally, after educating the public and finding the right way to explain my services, customers understand the value and willingly pay.

Another struggle along the way is working for yourself. It has this magical allure, but it’s really a slog. Yes, I work in my pajamas, but some days it’s because I haven’t had time to take a shower for a week with all the work staring me in the face. Working for yourself means you have to set boundaries, especially when your office is in your kitchen. It’s so easy to work all the time because it’s right in front of you all the time. I have to pull myself away, and set a schedule (usually stepping out into the garden) to break up the workday.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Gardenerd serves clients throughout Southern California with classes, consulting, food garden design/installation and vegetable garden maintenance services. I specialize in small-space biointensive gardening methods, which basically means growing a lot of stuff in a small space. We work without chemicals and guide people toward organic, regenerative soil stewardship and healthy garden practices.

Gardenerd is also a source for free information. I have a vast, searchable blog at, a top-rated Gardenerd Tip of the Week Podcast, and a successful YouTube channel with more than 10K subscribers. All of this is done with humor and fun. Because learning is easier when you’re laughing and having a good time.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Los Angeles is huge, so I always feel that there is plenty of room for everyone in this business. I am friends with pretty much everyone in my line of work. I refer clients to my competitors if they cover a different area or if my workload is overwhelming. Gardening is that kind of business. We all get along.

Because LA is so diverse and urban, there are so many opportunities to install gardens for individuals, businesses and communities. If every lawn were a vegetable garden instead, my work would be done here. That goal is a long way off and we need everyone working toward it for the sake of our planet.

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Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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