Get your food in the open air this spring


During the recent spring-like weather I found myself daydreaming of outdoor activities like riding bikes, walking dogs and shopping at Farmer’s Markets (to name a few). All things I associate with springtime and beautiful weather.

For me, that also involves eating well and leading an active lifestyle. Since I’m not a trainer, I’ll leave the topic of exercise to far more experienced voices than mine. But food is something I do know. Here are three good rules for choosing food: Shop locally, buy organic and whenever possible, if you have the means, try growing some of your own food. Most likely, you will have to mix things up a bit, as it is difficult to completely cover all your needs from just one source.

For an amazing resource on local farming in Nashville visit

Farmer’s Markets
Farmer’s Markets are the best places to buy fresh locally grown produce, and are generally cheaper than grocery stores. They are also socially active destinations that can be a lot of fun to visit. Get on a schedule and visit weekly, buying enough produce to last you until your next visit. Also, introduce yourself to the farmers you buy from and ask them about the food they sell – they will appreciate the gesture and you will definitely learn a lot.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

I’ve been a member of a CSA for the past three years and have found it hugely rewarding. The concept is simple; become a member, pay up front or on a monthly plan, and then enjoy your weekly delivery of seasonal fruits and veggies (typically from April till November). Recommended for adventurous types who enjoy cooking and the wide variety of food types you will receive. An added benefit of CSA is that many are from certified organic farms. (

Home Gardens
While not an option for everyone, growing your own garden can be a an adventure in itself. I tried this last year with a 4-by-8 foot plot of dirt outside my back door. While I would have starved if that were my only source of food, it was a great learning experience that I intend to repeat this year.

Gary Gaston is the Design Director of the Nashville Civic Design Center and a Lecturer at the University of Tennessee College of Architecture and Design. He was a principal contributor to The Plan of Nashville: Avenues to a Great City book, served as a co-chair on Mayor Dean’s Green Ribbon Committee, and currently serves on the Nashville Open Space Plan Committee. Gary also serves on the Board of Directors of Nashville CARES, Artrageous and Historic Nashville Inc