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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

Homesteading Takes Root in Atlanta

Mar 01, 2021 01:51PM ● By Noah Chen

Everarde Calk of Yogardener (Photo: Mason Coggins)

The rapid progression of technology has brought about many changes to modern life, and a premium on convenience is certainly one of them. Food, which we humans once planted and harvested ourselves, now comes gift-wrapped in brown-paper packages and delivered to our doors. Stories we used to tell around campfires, we now watch on our phones.

To many, this convenience is rational, even necessary. The workday is long, COVID has made the simplest things taxing, and at the end of the day, a little convenience can be more than just “nice.”

But for others, the technology-aided ease of modern life doesn’t have the same luster. For many, homesteading conjures feelings of communal living, DIY grandeur and fresh produce, and while it might not mean sprawling acres in the rolling countryside or the wooded mountains of Georgia, the appeal of homesteading has grown in recent years. Those taking an interest range from independent homeowners who are adding renewable sources of nutrition and energy to their properties to a man building a close-knit community that’s centered around a small farm in southwest Atlanta.

Everarde Calk is a man with one foot in each of these homesteading markets. His landscaping company, Yogardener, enjoys the patronage of well-heeled clients. That said, what sets both Calk and Yogardener apart from other Atlanta landscaping companies is a unique set of values, which Calk describes as: “Earth care, people care, and fair share.” That means he doesn’t only treat his employees and clients well—he does so with an eye on environmental sustainability.

“We really try to promote the elimination of the lawn and the use of native plants. We try to mitigate our impact with every action,” says Calk, referencing the fact that the classic emerald green American lawn isn’t exactly environment-friendly.

Still, he discovered a greater demand for conventional lawns than anything else. So Calk decided to change up the game entirely by disrupting what he calls “the lawn and garden paradigm.”

“The homesteading thing is a way for me to bring my knowledge into an urban design context with no pretense of conventionality,” he says.

For Calk, the heart of homesteading is permaculture, which he defines as “a way to map energy flows of a system and look for ways to increase efficiency and increase yields.” From this perspective, lawns aren’t flat green sheets of grass; they offer potential space to cultivate crops, house livestock or erect solar panels.

“So we take the system of urban residents, and we say, ‘OK, where are you losing energy? Where are you losing water? How can we capture water?’”

Calk helps clients plan and execute projects around their property with the help of his partner organizations. While homesteading projects do necessitate an investment, the nature of permaculture means they save money over time by providing renewable sources of food and energy.

Yogardener is also helping Nuri Icgoren, owner of Urban Sprout Farms, construct a 30-to-50-unit homesteading community inside Atlanta’s perimeter. Icgoren envisions the community to include a local store selling fresh produce and, of course, a farm. Community members can work there as well as purchase from the farm, if they like. Otherwise, the farm will be run by a professional farmer.

Icgoren and Calk met at a Permaculture Action Day, and the two became fast friends. Because of them, homesteading in Atlanta—both on a large scale and small—is that much more of a reality. For Atlanta, there are more ways than ever to embrace healthy habits and sustainable resources. ❧

For more information about Yogardener’s homesteading services, call 404-623-2287 or visit To learn more about Urban Sprout Farms, visit or follow them on Instagram @urbansproutfarms.
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