“Harvesting Wisdom” With Michael McMahon

Harvesting Wisdom
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Photo Credit: Harvesting Wisdom

Mike McMahon is a distinguished environmental planner and entrepreneur with a robust career spanning over three decades in landscape design and urban sustainability. As the President of Agave Environmental Contracting, Inc. (AEC), he leads a commercial landscape company renowned for its expertise in native plant salvage, revegetation, landscape construction, and maintenance. Under his leadership, AEC has significantly contributed to the restoration and beautification of numerous urban spaces.

A graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo, Mike earned a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Design before pursuing a master’s degree in Urban Planning from Arizona State University.

His academic background deeply informs his work, merging design principles with practical urban planning strategies to create environmentally responsible and community-focused projects.

Mike’s visionary leadership and relentless pursuit of sustainable development have not only transformed landscapes but also strengthened communities, making him a respected figure in the fields of environmental design and urban planning.

Thank you so much for taking time for this interview! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?  

I’ve been specializing in native plant salvage, revegetation, and landscape expertise for over 30 years. In 2015, I planted the seeds of community at Agave Farms, a thriving Central Phoenix garden. In 2018 I founded Urban Farming Education, a non-profit dedicated to empowering communities through sustainable agriculture and in 2020, I established Soil Seed & Water, a soil amendment company rooted in vermicomposting. All of this inspired and led me to Discover insights that grow a greener world with Harvesting Wisdom.

Photo Credit: Harvesting Wisdom

Congratulations on your official Podcast launch. Can you tell us more about “Harvesting Wisdom” and what it means to you?

We are pleased to announce the podcast officially launched on Earth Day and kicked off with very special guest Tom Cosgrove of Earthday.org as their featured guest. Harvesting Wisdom is meant to find experts from different stakeholder groups and have them share their stories.  In the process we have found every stakeholder group is on their own journey.  Our hope is to help each group leave their silo and embark on the same path.

Photo Credit: Harvesting Wisdom

Can you share the most interesting story that has happened to you since you started working in the podcast industry? 

Urban Farming Education collaborates with Harvesting Wisdom.  When interviewing two Urban Farming Education partners from Zimbabwe, we quickly realized how we all don’t experience the challenges of sustainability the same way. One of our guests was describing how they had to intervene in their community in Zimbabwe. Some of the local farmers were killing wild game that the safari operators relied on. As a result, instead of a conflict, his community was able to create a sustainable partnership.    

What is next for you, what are you working on?

We will be spending most of the month of May in Africa working on partnerships in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.  

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that? 

Harvesting Wisdom partners with Urban Farming Education. We have a dedicated team that work tirelessly to engage educators and students at Urban Farming Education. Their dedication and hard work continue to inspire a community to action. 

Photo Credit: Harvesting Wisdom

From your experience, what are a few ideas that we can use to effectively offer support to others who want to work as a podcast host and producer?

Encourage supporters to build capacity in the sustainability movement by watching documentaries and podcasts and volunteering with local organizations.

Can you please give us your favorite ”Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” ― Buckminster Fuller

 Sustainability is not a spectator sport. We need to engage our community with accessible knowledge that they can use to facilitate change.  Harvesting Wisdom is telling a compelling story of a diverse set of stakeholders ranging from politicians to high school students. They all have a story to tell.  Help us share their story!