Man Candy: Richie Northcott
Richie Northcott runs Fresh Prince, a Sydney based design and build company with a focus on plants. Yes! His passion for greenery was cultivated during a degree in agriculture and blossomed following a year in Africa helping set up herb and vegetable farms. On returning from overseas he saw potential gardens everywhere, and being the ideas driven guy that he is, he started growing ‘em. If you’re looking for some green in your office, restaurant or home, Richie’s your guy.
Can you please tell us a little about you and your life with plants?
I run Fresh Prince, a Sydney based design and build company with a focus on plants. After studying agriculture and spending a year in Africa setting up herb and vegetable farms I returned to Sydney with a passion for growing food. I was seeing potential veggie patches every time I walked past a verge or an abandoned lot. Fresh Prince began in my back yard in Bondi, where I built self-watering planter boxes from recycled timber, encouraging people to grow their own food without the fear of their plants dying of thirst.
I began dreaming and scheming about different ways plants could be incorporated into people’s lives, and introduced into the urban environment – through offices, events, bars and cafes. Since moving into a workshop in 2014 I have been able to take on larger plant projects, thinking outside the “planter box”. The biggest reward is seeing people’s faces light up when plants become part of their space. Nature definitely has the ability to influence our sense of well being.
What does it mean to you to be a man?
I feel like guys are conditioned to have a bit of a hero complex.
I want to make big change in the way humans treat the natural world by establishing a positive relationship between people and plants and the ecosystems we all depend on.
What has been your most significant personal achievement?
Turning Fresh Prince from a dream into a successful business.
What’s your worst habit?
I get excited about ideas late at night and then can’t get to sleep.
What do you regard as man’s worst habit?
Being distracted by his ego.
Which female in history or the present day do you admire and why?
A great man once said behind every great man is a greater woman. Alice is my partner in life and work. She has a green thumb and an endless supply of optimism, exemplified by a smile on her face even when she is covered in dirt and cactus prickles. She has a lot to offer from her background in architecture, and holds her own in a male dominated workshop – she kills it on the tools.
If you were a plant, what would you be, and why?
I would be a mango tree. I spent six months in a tent under a mango tree on the edge of the Nile River in South Sudan. The tree provided me with company, shade, fruit, and firewood.
Is it really a man’s world?
Only if you believe it is. I think our generation has outgrown that idea.
What is one piece of wisdom (a saying, a philosophy for life, etc.) that you learnt from your dad/grandfather?
Timing is everything.
What is one characteristic or trait that you inherited from your mum/grandmother?
I have my mum’s sense of humour.
If you had to make a garden with 3 plants, what would they be and why have you chosen each of them?
In a world of survival I would choose the Three Sisters, corn, pumpkin and beans – a Native American technique that grows grains, vegetables and legumes in a sustainable system. The legumes fix nitrogen into the soil, the corn provides a trellis for the legumes to climb and the pumpkin provides mulch from its leaves.
What do you love most about women?
Their ability to organise and bring people together.
Name one thing you couldn’t live without.
What would you be doing in an alternate life or career?
I have always wanted to be a musician.
What’s one lesson you’ve learnt from the plant kingdom?
Plants don’t need us as much as we need them.