Foodscaping Tips From a Pro
Brie Arthur is a master of practical gardening adviceBy Pamela A. Keene | Photos courtesy of Brie Arthur/BrieGrows.com
You’d never know Brie Arthur grows food crops on her one-acre homesite in the Raleigh suburbs.
“We produce just about all the fruits and vegetables we need, but there’s no reason to create separate raised planting beds,” says the horticulturist, lifelong gardener and author. “We’re not farming, so why plant everything in rows? It’s just as effective to plant lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, blueberries and other produce among our landscape.”
Brie, who teaches other people how to landscape for food through webinars and her website, briegrows.com, developed her technique in response to homeowners’ associations that tried to eliminate home vegetable gardening.
“So often their covenants prohibit growing vegetables in a homeowner’s front yard, but when I questioned the HOA, I found out the truth about their objections: raised beds that often looked upkept or eventually deteriorated. That was an easy fix: just plant food crops among the existing landscape.”
Brie has made a living out of pushing the envelope. As a youngster growing up in Michigan, she came from the only family of non-farmers in her 4-H program.
“All my friends were showing animals, but I had to grow plants and flowers. It was the start of my love affair with plants.”
She majored in landscape design and horticulture at Purdue University, eventually moving to Raleigh with her husband, David. In her subdivision, she ran into resistance when she wanted to grow food crops in her yard. At the time, she was just getting started in her career, and growing vegetables was a necessity.
“During the recession we really couldn’t afford fresh produce because of other financial constraints,” she says. “David and I wanted to use our landscape to grow food, but we were told we couldn’t.
“Don’t tell me I can’t do something,” she says with a sly smile. “That just makes me work harder to find a way to succeed. And you know what? That same subdivision’s HOA actually gave us Yard of the Year, and all the while, I was growing fruits and vegetables. They never even realized.”
Her decision led to her career of helping home gardeners optimize their space and produce edibles. Today, she has written two books: “The Foodscape Revolution” and “Gardening with Grains.” She also presents dozens of webinars about home gardening and foodscaping to professional landscaper groups, garden clubs, master gardener meetings and community groups.
“Pre-pandemic, I was always on the road, so at least now I’m home more,” she says. “Webinars still require a great deal of preparation and every one I do is region-specific and customized for the audience.”
She’s also a regular contributor on the nationally syndicated PBS program, “Growing a Greener World.”
At home, Brie continues to grow produce in her landscape. “I have an army of young helpers. The neighborhood kids love to come over and garden with me. To them, I’m the cool neighbor.”
Brie the Plant Lady
About the AuthorPamela A. Keene is a freelance journalist who writes for magazines and newspapers across the Southeast and nationally.
How does your garden grow?