Last week, my friend Hannah of Sundry Mumsy and I were invited to attend a bloggers luncheon at P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home at Moss Mountain Farm. The event was hosted by Allen and the folks at AR529, Arkansas’ direct-sold 529 college savings program. We began the day with a few words from Allen on the importance of education before touring the home and gardens, then enjoying an amazing lunch and hearing a panel discuss the importance of college savings for families.
I’ve been to the Garden Home before, but I’m always so impressed with its beauty and charm. A few years ago, I wrote a cover story on Allen and learned the myriad ways that the Greek Revival style home is actually completely eco-friendly, as anyone who watched the process of building the house on his television show can attest.
A 6,000-gallon tank under the front lawn collects rainwater from all over the gardens, which is then used to irrigate the sprawling lawn and beds. The metal roof uses a radiant heat system to heat the home’s hot water, floors and air. And the walls are filled with insulation made from Arkansas soybeans.
The decor is, of course, jaw dropping. A lover of history, Allen has filled his home with antiques and any of the soft surfaces are reupholstered with organic fabric.
The back porches are my favorite part though. The porch on the ground level, right off the kitchen/dining area, features comfortable furniture and a relaxed dining area for al fresco dinners, while the upstairs porch features twin beds and a copper bath tub.
And of course, there are books everywhere, which is both the way to my heart and reinforcement that Allen is serious about education.
Next up was a tour of the gardens, which are completely jaw dropping. As a champion of the farm-to-table movement and supporting small, local farmers, much of his gardens grow edible plants and are used in educational tours for everyone from gardeners who come to tour the property to groups of school children.
Our garden tour was cut short by rain, so we all headed to the barn to have lunch and learn about #AR529. Though I don’t have children of my own, I was really interested in hearing about this program – especially as someone who took out a lot (A LOT) of student loans and will work to pay them off for another 20-25 years. We also learned about #AR529’s Gift Plan, which is something I already knew about. My mom opened a gift plan account for my cousin’s baby when he was born, and with something as simple as a barcode that family members can print off the internet, we can all make contributions to Ethan’s college savings plan in lieu of gifts at Christmas and birthday parties (because seriously – how many two year olds need another toy, am I right???).
To learn more about AR529 and The Gift Plan, visit the websites below. Seriously – it’s never too early to start saving for college!
And for more info and photos, check out Hannah’s post over at Sundry Mumsy!