The 2018 Nashville Lawn and Garden Show has brought nationally recognized author, PBS correspondent and gardening expert Brie Arthur to town as its featured speaker at this year’s show, March 1-4 at The Fairgrounds Nashville, where Arthur will present “Perennial Combinations in the Foodscape Revolution” on Saturday, March 3, at 1 p.m. and “Foodscape Revolution Simplified” on Sunday, March 4, at 12:30 p.m.
Originally from southeastern Michigan, Arthur studied Landscape Design and Horticulture at Purdue University. As a correspondent on the PBS television show Growing A Greener World, she shares practical advice from her one-acre suburban foodscape. She took some time to chat with Nashville Interiors before the show about the popularity of foodscaping, and where she has to visit when she is in town.
Tell us about your presentations.
I’m doing two all about foodscaping, which is just a really simple concept of using the landscape you already have to be able to incorporate some food crops that you can bring in and share with your family. One focuses on combinations with flowering perennials, looking at all the very best plants that you can have in your landscape, and then what vegetables go best with those plants to make it look pretty, and give it some seasonality. And make it easy to access and be able to harvest some of your own produce.
The other one is really focusing more on the general concepts of foodscaping, and ways to follow this landscape practice, and abide by your homeowners’ association rules, and just give people some general tips on how to have a successful spring growing season.
How did you get into foodscaping?
I first read about this from Rosalind Creasy. She has been talking about edible landscaping since the 70s and has written 23 amazing books on the subject. But I started growing food for myself out of necessity. My background is in ornamental horticulture, and I laugh because it’s not necessarily economically very sustainable.
I started growing food after I bought a house. This was in the subprime market, and I was living in a subdivision with a homeowners’ association covenant, and I was really needing to grow produce to supplement my budget for buying at the grocery store. So, it was a terrifying process of figuring out how I could do it and not get a fine. As a result I really learned a lot of great things to be able to share with other people, especially young homeowners, who live in neighborhoods with these strong covenants that it can be really intimidating.
So you really learned the ins and outs.
I did. And it’s actually pretty simple. The whole strategy with homeowners’ associations is they want you to look like you have a landscape like everyone else. So, you just can’t approach growing food from a farming kind of way. You can’t do it in straight lines, and you can’t rip out all of your grass. From understanding those basic things I’ve been able to really figure out how to turn landscapes into spaces that can produce food.
Are more people getting interested in incorporating food into their gardens?
Food is one of these things that engages young audiences, and more racially diverse audiences, than traditional gardening. So, it’s opened the doors to a lot of people who are approaching wanting to cultivate food for various reasons, and it does seem to just be increasing in popularity. I think more than anything in 2018, there are people who want to make very conscientious decisions and be mindful to the world they’re living in and contribute to their communities, and growing food fits into all of that. It’s a really powerful way of just adding something good to the world. Everybody, at least the crowds of people that I get to spend time with, that’s really the motivating factor for everybody. So, it’s nice to be able to give some guidance, and tips, and inspiration on how they can do that with their landscape.
Is there any place in Nashville that you’d like to visit when you’re here?
I actually came last summer and did a foodscaping presentation at Moore & Moore Garden Center, and I loved that garden center. Oh my goodness. They are such a great resource for everything that a home gardener could possibly need. I’ve never been to Cheekwood, and I really hope to get to go there.
Additional guest speakers at the show include Jeff Poppen, the Barefoot Farmer; Carol Reese of UT Extension-Jackson; Troy Marden, host of Volunteer Gardener; Todd Breyer, landscape architect; and Owen Reich, expert on Bonsai and Japanese gardens. Proceeds from this year’s Show will benefit the Nashville Tree Foundation, Twelve Apostles Eagle Scout Project, and other community horticultural programs. For additional information, visit www.nashvillelawnandgardenshow.com.