My name is Phil Nauta. I grew up working for my parents in their garden center in the ‘90s and early 2000s.
I hadn’t even heard of “organic” until 2005, when I moved out to the west coast and, on a whim, did a certificate program in Organic Landscape Management at Gaia College.
I actually never thought I would stay in the gardening world after so many years of cutting grass and digging holes in my youth, but I fell in love with it when I saw it through an organic lens.
Since then I’ve:
- Started my own organic gardening service
- Did my Permaculture Design Certificate
- Completed a Certificate in Sustainable Building and Design from Yestermorrow
- Taught courses for Gaia College and helped build their online school
- Started The Organic Gardener’s Pantry, selling high-quality organic fertilizers in Canada, now run by my friend Christina
- Spent 3 years on the board of directors of the Society For Organic Urban Land Care
- Wrote the book Building Soils Naturally (published by Acres U.S.A.)
- Created my online organic gardening course, the Smiling Gardener Academy, now taken by more than 800 people
- Started offering organic fertilizers for sale again, this time in the U.S.
- And I’ve gardened, of course, in various places, from zone 4b to 9a – mostly 5b and 6a
And there’s an interesting thing that happens when you study organic horticulture and agriculture.
You end up learning a lot more than just how to grow things. You might get into environmental issues, human nutrition, and more.
So although I started Smiling Gardener back in 2010, I also began exploring other subjects.
I got really interested in human flourishing and I started getting involved in the world of naturopathic medicine.
I also became a coach with a focus on positive psychology.
I occasionally took a year or two away from SG to go down these other paths and then I always come back to dive back in.
Plus, I now have 2 more mouths to feed, so the importance of growing organic, nutrient-dense food has only become greater.
Why Smiling Gardener?
I called the website “Smiling Gardener” because I wanted to focus on the positive side of organic gardening and growing food.
A lot of people switch to more of an organic approach when they learn about the environmental impacts we’re having on our planet, whether climate change, water, soil and air pollution, mass species extinction, genetic engineering, or any number of other challenges.
It can be quite upsetting. I know I spent my share of time being down about it. But I eventually figured out that worrying wasn’t very fun – or helpful.
So I decided to focus more on solutions.
But please don’t let the Smiling Gardener name fool you. I love the name but it doesn’t really convey what I share here, which includes sometimes diving into research and science and mathematical equations, but yes, also leaving space for the stranger corners of the organic world like biodynamics because it’s fun and because, for some reason, it works.
I spend plenty of time covering the basics, but I also go fully into more advanced biologically-oriented growing techniques.
So yes, let’s be optimistic, let’s have fun, and let’s be ready to increase our knowledge and put in some work.
I only answer gardening questions from current, paying Academy members (sorry, I wish I had time to answer questions from everyone).
I do try to respond to blog comments, though, so if you have a question about a specific blog post, and if comments are open on that post, please leave your question in the comments below the post.
If you are an Academy member, use the Chat area in the Academy and I’ll respond within a few hours.
My email ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) is mostly for other inquiries and it’s the best way to contact me.