When it comes to plant life, there are few people in this area who know more about the art of growing things than Michael Healy. He’s spent a decades-long career in plant pathology, the scientific study of diseases in plants.
Healy is a transplant to Baldwin County, having been born in New York and raised in rural Illinois.
Before his relocation to Alabama 19 years ago, Healy owned a farm in northwest Indiana. It wasn’t your typical operation, though. “I was really a non-farmer owning a farm,” he said. The farm Healy owned was used for research in the field that would eventually prompt his move to Baldwin County.
“My primary business is agricultural field research, and I had to do a project on tomatoes in Alabama,” Healy says. While doing that project, he met a retired tomato grower who helped him find a site to use for his research and eventually a home to rent. From there, he purchased his current residence in Elberta, where he now runs a turf diagnostic business.
In the past ten years, Healy’s career has taken him to 31 foreign countries doing consulting work, research and client recruitment. His travels have included trips to Mongolia, Sweden, Turkey and China among several other places.
Healy says he is “having too much fun” to ever retire. “I’ve always had the good fortune of doing what I want to do. And if you’re in that environment, why retire? Just do it on your own terms and at your own speed,” he says.
Working with plants is both a hobby and a livelihood for Healy, but it’s not the only thing that keeps him busy. “When I’m not doing my own thing, I try to do projects here in the community,” says Healy, who’s also a father of three and grandfather of one. He’s the founder of the popular Cove Dog Olympics, now in its eighth year of raising funds for animal welfare in Baldwin County. Healy also serves on the board of Fairhope’s Local Food Production Initiative, which promotes and educates the public about the benefits of purchasing and growing food in the community.