P. Allen Smith has been heard on radio, seen on television, and written about in newspapers and magazines. Even the Internet and YouTube sites are filled with images of him telling garden lovers what to do to their dirt--and when to do it. And on Saturday, March 16 at 2 p.m. in Atlanta, he will do more of the same for the 2013 Southeastern Flower Show attendees.
So in advance of his visit, the Top News Examiner caught up with the gardening guru on Wednesday, to discuss a couple of things. And it wasn't hard, despite the fact that he lives on the Moss Mountain Farm in Arkansas, which consists of at least 650 acres of land.
Surprisingly, P. Allen Smith was as down-to-earth as his videos hint at, and his willingness to talk about his many passions elicited some surprising answers. For starters, this man referred to by the New York Times as the Martha Stewart of the South, actually loves to paint.
Of course, as one might expect, his love of painting is still tied to his love of gardening, as he chooses objects from that field as his canvas inspiration, such as the one featured at the top of this article.
And when it comes to art appreciation, he is not focused solely on his own creative bent, choosing to showcase the talents of others as well, like Rebecca, who he featured in the March 15 video shown to the left.
Another passion of P. Allen Smiths is the Bonny Cabbage Program, as it is a nationwide program that puts a free cabbage into the hands of every child in the third grade, as long as their school is willing.
These kids can win $1,000," he said. "Bonny Plants actually brings the cabbage plants to schools and gives them to third grade classes. And it's a great way--and a great incentive--to get a kid to grow a plant."
Getting children to turn to gardening as a hobby is another passion of Smith's, who also thinks getting adults to turn back to gardening (or to try it for the first time), is not just a great way to get them to embrace another of his passions (healthier eating); it's also a great way to get them to create new memories with loved ones.
For example, Smith says that when families garden together they "create quality family time," and the benefit of that is building "wonderful memories and traditions." But maybe even more importantly is the skill set being formed for the future.
When you're working with other family members or your children you're creating this legacy of providing someone with tools that can be used for a lifetime," he stated.
P. Allen Smith isn't just talking arbitrarily, as he's experienced first-hand the impact gardening has had on his life since his youth. And the influence it has had in shaping his destiny is there for all to see. And he wants to share that "sense of accomplishment" gardening can give a person to all he meets. And that brings us to Smith's other passion: teaching.
And if it were not for that passion, there would be a lot of unhappy gardeners around the country today, including those expecting to hear the popular expert speak on Saturday in Atlanta.
I'm always excited to be where there's an audience that is eager to learn, and where I can be a help to them. If I can help them in any way, I want to help. And I love Atlanta," he said.
When one considers how much the celebrated gardener loves his Moss Mountain Farm, however, it is hard to imagine him willing to give up his own piece of paradise to travel so many states away, but he was quick to let this Examiner know that Arkansas hasn't cornered the market on beautiful pieces of land.
Georgia is such a beautiful state. There's so many gardens; There are beautiful gardens there.
The author of books like "Seasonal Recipes from the Garden," and "Living in the Garden Home," can be counted on to appreciate gardens wherever they are in the country, of course. But another reason he likely doesn't mind a trip to Georgia is the fact that it is a state that shares another passion of his: a fondness for Heritage Poultry.
P. Allen Smith is the founder of Heritage Poultry Conservancy, and the organization's mission is to preserve and support all threatened breeds and strains of domestic poultry. In other words, he's trying to help keep American families options open when it comes to choosing, growing and eating poultry of a higher quality than those items often offered at the local supermarket.
And it is that desire to assist, educate, and steer American families and their children towards healthier food options that truly serves as the greatest passion of P. Allen Smith.
I'm very excited about helping the healthy food movement, helping people to understand how to grow healthy food."
And that's why he remains committed to continuing to reach his current audience of fans as well as those just beginning to show an interest in eating healthier, or growing their own vegetables, or raising poultry at home, rather than purchasing it at the grocery store. And speaking at the Southeastern Horticulture Society's 25th Anniversary event on Saturday at the Cobb Galleria Centre is but one way he plans to do that.
Tickets to the event can be purchased in person the day of the event, but seating is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis. Cost is $10 in addition to the $18 one-day admission fee into the Southeastern Flower Show.