I was born and raised in Nashville, TN. I received my bachelors of science from Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, NC (near Asheville) and majored in biology (minor = chemistry). My focus was on plants and systems design.
Warren Wilson is a work college, meaning every student is required to work at least 15 hours a week on a specific work crew in addition to the academic requirements. For the majority of my time at Warren Wilson, I worked on the landscaping crew. In addition to performing normal landscaping duties, I also maintained a diverse and mature Permaculture foodscape in front of the “Eco-dorm”. During my last two years at Warren Wilson, I taught classes and workshops on Permaculture and Foodscaping, along with guiding countless tours of the Eco-dorm foodscape.
I have interned at Ashevillage Institute, an urban permaculture laboratory and community. I helped to manage the permaculture garden and educate folks in the garden. During this internship, I earned my Permaculture Design certificate. I have also worked on a mature, complex and integrated permaculture farm in Southern France, with a focus on fruit tree care and maintenance.
Parallel to my permaculture studies, I have read and attended conferences on Bio-dynamics. I traveled to Pine Ridge Lakota Reservation in South Dakota to build a bio-dynamic garden at a Lakota Waldorf school. My designs and thought patterns are a fusion of permaculture and bio-dynamic principles.
I have designed foodscapes for clients in the Asheville and Nashville areas. My passion is growing food of all kinds and doing it in a way that is attractive and healthy for the individual and the community. I have come back to my native Nashville eager to work towards food security and earth restoration. I am a community resilience enthusiast and believe in the power of a localized economy and an inspired, well-fed community.
My passion for growing my own food began in 2010 shortly after my son was born. My wife Katie and I wanted to be able to provide our son Blaze with the freshest and healthiest food available. My knowledge of gardening has been mostly self-taught through trial and error here at our home. I have attended classes on organic and bio-dynamic gardening, including the Master Gardener’s course in Cheatham County. I am an avid reader and I have gained a wealth of knowledge through research and practice, specifically in the fields of seed saving and companion planting. We are continually expanding our urban farm which now includes chickens, annual and perennial plants, fruit trees and bushes!
I am excited to join Nashville Foodscapes! I have been blessed with the opportunity for my dream job - helping other people to grow their own food! I look forward to continuing to learn and evolve with this job as I bring my existing knowledge and drive to the team at Nashville Foodscapes.
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Bringing It All Back Home – I grew up here in Nashville, but I didn’t really get the plant bug until I went away to college. A few seasons of organic vegetable farming outside Washington, DC pushed me in new directions, and a stint in the Peace Corps as an agroforestry extension agent and environmental educator in Gabon (Central Africa) led to many subsequent years work as a globe trotting farmer, community development facilitator, and conservation planner. Having returned to Nashville in early 2013 with plans to settle in for the long haul and with a desire to promote good food and sustainable agriculture in Middle Tennessee, I found working for Nashville Foodscapes to be a natural outlet for my various passions and happily signed on as crewmember. In years past I maintained a Davidson County Master Gardener certification (now expired), and I received my Permaculture Design Certification in 2012. It’s also conceptually possible that I’m the only landscaper in Nashville with an M.S. in Natural Resources Management (2008).
Somewhere along this convoluted life path I became a fairly serious local food systems advocate and a little bit of a plant geek, especially as concerns agricultural and other edible species. Being that I’m “the old guy” on the team, I will probably end up telling you more than you ever wanted to know about eggplant or elderberries, I’ll almost certainly expound at length upon the virtues of your soil, and there’s a reasonable likelihood that we’ll end up sharing recipes, comparing notes on the weirdest thing we’ve ever eaten, or crawling around in your bushes to look at nifty insects.
To make a long story short, I’ve been lucky enough to have lived and worked in many parts of the world where people grow much of their own food in beautiful gardens within feet of their own doorstep, and I see no good reason why we can’t do the same right here in Nashville. I’m here to help.
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Hey I'm Neal! I like digging, planting, harvesting, pushing wheelbarrows, and eating. After graduating from University School of Nashville in 2010, I started acting in spite of my stomach. Hunger led me to eastern Tennessee where I digested a lifetime in 2 years. Turns out preparatory school is preparation for further education...d'oh!