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The Origin Story of My Home Park and Our First Season

DECEMBER 2, 2022
Two men sitting outside
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Five years ago, my LED lighting company Wireless Environment (Mr. Beams) was acquired by Ring to add an IoT lighting line to their home security systems. Following a sudden acquisition by Amazon in 2018, I spent 3.5 years running the smart lighting business. Then I was free to leave.

I am a career product person, and my instinct was to find another hole in the market and create a widget and build a market and sell it. Luckily, my wife caught me and said, “What do you want to provide the world?”

And, I realized it wasn’t another widget that requires plastic and packaging and eventually winds up in the landfill.

I always had a deep fascination with bees. I often enjoyed working outside in a garden outside my home and would get distracted by the bees that would come visit. I would wonder - What do they do? How are they thriving? With this fascination, I started to do some more research. And, I saw what many of you have heard before - bees are dying and their endangerment is consequential to our food supply and planet. At that point, I knew I found my purpose and passion.

Bee Balm on Blue House

I emailed a contact from the '90’s who was a leader in the environmental business space. And, while I expected a non-profit to emerge from our conversation, Brad Whitehead led me to a future co-founder instead. He said, “My daughter is in honey bee outreach at UMASS and is dating a guy who is getting his PhD in native bees. Do you want to talk to them?”

Wyatt Shell had an idea to save bees by making it easy and fun for people to plant gardens of native plants. We founded My Home Park and raised money from the same investors as Wireless Environment. Wyatt left academia for a very uncertain future and trusted that I would honor the science and stick to the mission of restoring habitats and pollinators. I knew nothing about plants, but I was excited to learn again, and trusted that Wyatt would recognize that we need to generate a profit. And I was determined to do what I could to ultimately help pollinators. I began planting every type of Ohio native plant, learning how plants develop and work and watching bees.

We set out to make buying a native plant garden similar to buying a sofa: choose your size and color and we’ll bring it to your door. We designed colorful and structured gardens with names such as Purple Haze and Hummingbird Haven. We ship them with a planting map and show our customers how easy it is to plant an entire garden. Once planted, the native plants do what they do best - survive and thrive. Once they establish, they require no additional water, chemicals or fertilizer.

While we continue to learn and iterate, we are excited to slowly expand our reach and impact. We tested on Ohio this season and are now expanding to ship gardens throughout the Great Lakes states. We focused on B2C but found that our native plant designs have major benefits for municipalities, corporate campuses and parks.

Here’s the surprise - planting native plant gardens is the top impact you can have on the environment per dollar spent. As a science outsider, I wanted to rank the various actions any of us can take to restore our environment. You can find hundreds of lists online, and few of the recommendations are motivating and less than $1,000: recycle; stop eating meat; drive an EV; install solar panels; carpool; bike more and drive less. Planting a native plant garden - starting at $100 -beats all of these activities because it restores the original habitat, provides food and shelter for bees, pollinators, beneficial insects and birds, and renews soil. The impact of a native plant garden increases over time, as does its impact on your property value.

I thank you for reading this far about our story and encourage you to consider giving a garden to a friend, family member and neighbor. The direct impact that it will have on restoring our environment will far surpass any other gift.

Let’s Get Growing!

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