CLINTON SMITH: Although it’s called A Time to Plant, this isn’t only a gardening book, per se. How do you describe it?
James Farmer III: I’d say this is a lifestyle book, harkening the classicism of the past for today’s generation who loves all of the things this Farmer relishes—garden goodness! Garden living is my mantra and the resounding theme of the book.
As a third-generation Auburn graduate, how’d you get into the business of garden design, event planning and interior design?
I always knew I’d go to Auburn; we’re a War Eagle family! At Auburn, I would “do pots and flowers,” as I say, for parties, garden clubs, etc., and that led to interiors, events and holiday decorating. It was a fun way to pay for school and get my hands dirty—literally.
You grew up with a farm-to-table lifestyle before it became trendy, and you continue to live by a “hyperseasonal” ethos, whether it’s in the food you eat or the flowers you grow. Is that the basis of your entire philosophy?
Hyperseasonal is key to everything I do. Nature’s cadence and timing leads to seasonal availability and all my inspiration. What is in season is my springboard and base point.
Atlanta is a city of nearly six million people. How can city dwellers adopt your lifestyle of garden living?
Whether you have a plot or just a pot, you can live a garden life. In the city proper, fresh farm stands, markets and even grocers are readily available. I know Whole Foods sells Pearson Farm peaches, right from Peach County! A simple pot of mint on your balcony or windowsill wakes up ice water or tea and is easy, no matter your garden square-footage. A pot of basil and tomatoes is perfect in any urban spot, as well. Plus, you can always get out of town; find your favorite farms and markets and go to them. Atlanta is a big place but not far from some of the best farms around.
With clients from Augusta and Montgomery to North Carolina and Mississippi, running your empire from Kathleen seems to be more than just about location. It seems like it’s at the heart of everything you do and is what continues to inspire you. Is that fair to say?
Very fair to say; Kathleen and Middle Georgia is my home. I loved Auburn but always knew I’d be back at home. There is something very reciprocal about giving back to where you’re from, for I feel it is always giving something back to me.
If you could identify one thing that you want readers to take away from A Time to Plant, what would it be?
That garden living is completely attainable, worthy of our time and so elegantly delightful. There is nothing more rewarding than sharing the fruits of your labor or donning your home with the flowers and foliage from the garden. So get out there, get some dirt on your hands and live the garden life!