Green Chic Gardening with Britton Neubacher

Lifestyle | | May 18, 2010 at 9:47 am
A beautiful dome by Tend Living.

A beautiful dome by Tend Living.

Meet my friend Britton Neubacher, founder of green-chic company Tend Living. Brit creates sustainable living sculptures that make you think twice about gardening, like the one above. What started as a small San Diego project has now transformed home and work spaces all over Southern California to reflect the native landscape in completely unique and beautiful ways. Read on!

WW: I love the name! How did you come up with it?

Britton Neubacher: I was looking for a word that would suggest action as well as a descriptor for the larger goal: taking care of our planet. I wanted to highlight the fact that I work with sustainable practices that support life and one that sees plant tending as a lifestyle. People seem to like that part so it has become my business name. More of the same good action!

WW: Tell me how the company got started, it was something of an art experiment wasn’t it?

BN: Tend began as a contribution to a sustainable design show at Design Within Reach in San Diego. My friend *forced* me into it and I was horrified, not able to see myself as an artist. I’m over that insecurity now though! The last thing Tend should be about is ego, so I try to leave self-consciousness out of the equation.

WW: Has sustainable living always been your way of life? How did your background in social justice influence your current inspiration?

BN: I think it has. I joined Greenpeace when I was eight and devoted my young life to environmental and animal activism, later, youth and women’s movements. My adult background is in crisis work with severely high-risk youth and community organizing around feminism and art activism. I have a graduate degree in women’s studies, which amazingly I was able to use for several years in the way of a career before I burned out.

WW: Why did you leave that industry?

BN: I’m really sensitive and didn’t practice enough self-care so I eventually had to accept that I was not a “lifer” in the helping industry. I think I made a little difference, at least I hope I did, but I feel so much more nourished and centered once I went with a more simple approach: to tend to the planet one plant friend at a time. It’s such a beautiful thing to assist a living being that naturally wants to thrive. People are too complicated and self-sabotaging for me! Also, I think plants bring people together in an unspoken language we all instinctively understand, so I actually feel more connected to people than ever now.

Brit (on left)

Britton Neubacher (on left).

WW: Some of us are new to interiorscaping, can you tell us a little about this type of design?

BN: Interiorscaping is the radical notion that people belong with plants. Really, it is just a fancy word for interior design through green and greenery. Placing plants in your living and work spaces provides aesthetic benefits and can combat rampant off-gassing known as “sick building syndrome.” It can even increase productivity. No environment is complete until it is supplied with life. Well-chosen and strategically-placed plants literally transform a space, and your life!

WW: How do you teach your clients and the community about the concepts of permaculture?

BN: I often plant on a graded arrangement (even in my orbs) so that the more water-loving plants will benefit from run-off of those needing less hydration. Terrariums are an excellent, semi self-sustaining eco-system in that the water requirements are greatly reduced and carbon dioxide usage is optimized. My goal is to make tending easy and fun so low-maintenance plants and plantings feed two birds with one hand, as they say. High-style permaculture with edibles may be the next frontier for me!

WW: With all the water Southern California uses to keep green lawns alive, how will Tend’s creations influence a shift toward cultivating natural landscaping involving native plants that conserve water?

BN: I’m hoping my work will help shift people’s perspectives to see drought-tolerant plants as more interesting than they may have realized. It’s all about providing a format for the already-amazing-but-commonly-over-looked. I try to approach any landscaping that I do as a larger version of my miniature creations, so hopefully people will also see exciting landscaping opportunities from my mini plant worlds.

WW: Brit, you’re becoming popularly known with your eco-friendly wedding creations. Do you see sustainable “green” floristry lasting beyond a trend?

BN: It may be wishful thinking, but I really do. I’d like to believe a trend that has global meaning behind it is less likely to become a passing fad. Shift the individual perspective and the collective consciousness follows, right? I guess that’s what we would call evolution. Green weddings are necessary for our human evolution! Ooooh, I need to market that declaration!

WW: What can we expect from here? Any fun summer projects on the horizon?

BN: Only to expect the unexpected! I hope to always bring a freshness to green living (truly, the gardening puns are endless). I do have a very special on-line store planned for Summer and some thrilling collaborative projects in the works, including the release of “Golly Pods,” a living sculpture line with Jason Lane of Bells & Whistles. Stay tuned!

WW: What advice can you give to folks interested in learning how they can become more connected with the natural landscape in their locale?

BN: Get outside, shut up and be still! Seriously, just getting out of our heads is the first step, nature does the rest. Pay attention to how plants affect you and allow them to share their magic with you. Enjoy the discovery and the inherent connection as you wish each other well. Then tend to it.

Visit Tend’s blog and Facebook to see how Brit is changing the planet, “one plant friend at a time.”

ChristineChristine M. Dionese L.Ac. specializes in integrative medicine, medical journalism and was the VP of marketing at WellWire LLC. Visit her wellness and lifestyle blog, Reaching Beyond Now.

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