Southern Living magazine editor at large and garden designer James Farmer will talk about his book "A Time to Plant" on Sept. 7 at Rosemary Beach Town Hall.
Farmer is a Southern author, gardener, floral and interior designer, cook and garden-to-table lifestyle expert. He is described as a voice for his generation on how to incorporate elegant seasonal garden living into one’s life either on a grand scale or modest budget.
He has appeared on NBC’s "Today," is author of the Wall Street Journal best-selling garden book, "A Time To Plant," (2011); "Sip & Savor" (2012); "Porch Living," (2012); "Wreaths For All Seasons," (2012); and "A Time to Cook," (2013) published by Gibbs-Smith Publishers.
But his expertise comes from modest beginnings while growing up on a farm in the small town of Perry Ga. — a place he still calls home.
"This is all I have ever done my whole life as long as I can remember," he told The Sun. "This is how I started out and it's all I ever considered doing."
Farmer was taught as a young boy how to pull vegetables, herbs and flowers from the family farm and kitchen garden to provide much of the food, decor and flavor of his family’s every-day life. He learned how to be a “hyper-seasonal” cook at the side of his grandmother whose Southern heirloom recipes he revitalized for contemporary tastes.
Farmer earned a degree in horticulture and opened a landscape design company in 2005. The first garden he consulted on was featured in "The Atlanta Journal," "Southern Living," "Traditional Home," and ultimately in the book, "Private Gardens of Georgia."
Because of his love for entertaining from the garden, he began creating floral arrangements and consulting on food for private parties and weddings held by his list of clients.
Farmer said he always wanted to teach others about how the land and gardening shape our lives, maybe not in a proper classroom, but through writing and teaching in informal settings.
"It was passed along to me and I believe land and gardening is a direct tie to our past," he said. "We should all know the story behind what is healthy and understand our history and legacy."
He said his own summer garden was a great success this year with a bumper crop of tomatoes and he even has his first pumpkin of the season. He is not shy about admitting to using fertilizer and creating good soil. His preferred fertilizer is the standard 10-10-10, which he feels is the right amount of what's needed to get great results. He also uses manure and a compost of grass leaves, clippings, and garden refuse, which he said gives high nitrogen. Farmer said compost needs to be heavier in Florida due to our sandy soil.
"This gives great results," he said.
His favorite things to plant are herbs such as basil, mint, and rosemary, and they are what he grows the most.
Farmer said herbs are things anyone can grow.
"If you have a plot or a pot you can grow herbs," he said. "All you need is a container or raised bed. You can control soil in raised containers. I use what's tried and true."
Farmer enjoys growing his own vegetables, but he also supports local farmers' markets to purchase what he doesn't grow.
But he isn’t a vegetarian.
"It's important to farm and there are some great butchers in my area," he said, adding that he grew up on a cattle farm.
At Rosemary Beach, Farmer will speak on bringing your garden to the table and into your home.
A reception featuring drinks from the designer's Sip & Savor is at 6 p.m., followed by his presentation and conversation. This will be Farmer's first time to speak in this area on the topic he considers his heritage.
"I feel fortunate to be able to do what I love," he said.
Tickets are available online for $25 at www.rosemarybeachfoundation.org. All proceeds benefit Rosemary Beach Foundation.
For more information visit www.jamesfarmer.com.