Where urbanites get back to basics

The Homestead Atlanta offers instruction in recently rediscovered practical arts
Kimberly Coburn, founder of the Homestead Atlanta

After two years in the making, Atlanta’s new center for self-sufficiency, The Homestead Atlanta, launches this weekend with two classes: Designing Beautiful Edible Landscapes and Cultivating Mushrooms Indoors and Out. Soon to follow are classes in hand-spinning yarn, blacksmithing and food fermentation. If you have a single do-it-yourself bone in your body, you’re likely to find something of interest here.

Founded by Kimberly Coburn, who also co-founded Crop Mob Atlanta, Homestead Atlanta will offer low-cost instruction in everything from wood chopping to winemaking. It’s not all food-related, but with a theme of self-reliance and sustainability, the center’s programming reflects a shared goal with the local-food movement: to explore the original methods behind modern conveniences that may have been forgotten on our path to commercialism. You don’t have to always make, say, your own cheese, but if you know how it’s done, you can better judge whether the processed slices sold on the grocery shelf are something you really want to eat.

The concept is modeled on folk schools like John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, N.C. Coburn says for years she’s pored over the course catalog, but could never afford to go—so she decided to create her own school here. “There are great classes going on all around the city already, they just hadn’t been aggregated,” she says. Now people will have a central source to find classes in a wide range of traditional skills that “help you move towards a more self-reliant lifestyle,” Coburn says.

Homestead Atlanta classes will be held at subject-matter-appropriate locations around the city and led by passionate pursuers and pros. Saturday’s class in edible landscaping, for instance, will be taught by landscaper and gardener Daniel Ballard at H. Harper Station, and Sunday’s mushroom cultivation class will be taught by mushroom rancher Steven Bell at his place of business, 5th Kingdom mushroom farm. Both classes still have some open slots, so it’s not too late to register.

Because Georgia Organics is supporting the fledgling nonprofit in its first year, Georgia Organics members get discounts on class fees. And you’ll be sure to see a range of classes in tune with that organization’s mission, including Organic Vegetable Gardening 101 (April 20), Basics of Biodynamics (April 27), Food Forestry: Permaculture Principles (May 5), and Rainwater Harvesting (May 11). Check out the full roster here.