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Meet "Lisa Hecht"! Rooted by Gentleman Farmers and Addicted to Urban Homesteading.

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In urban Atlanta, Lisa or @snickelfritty as her Instagram followers know her by, is growing everything from fruits & vegetables to herbs and edible flowers! She also has made a hobby of raising chickens, and preserving her harvests. 

Have you ever made mistakes or failed doing something? Absolutely! Once I planted an entire bed full of corn, waited 100 days, and not a single kernel came. There were some ears, but no actual kernels. Total failure. This was devastating because I love corn! But really, things like that happen all of the time. I truly believe that if I'm not failing, then I'm not trying hard enough. I'm always looking to learn new things, and personally I learn the best by actually doing. I get inspiration from somewhere, maybe by seeing something online or while I'm traveling, and then I do some research, and then I go home and try it myself. Many times it is a shot in the dark, and I make mistakes along the way. Sometimes it works, but sometimes I fail and have to adjust my process and try again. While I certainly enjoy a successful outcome, it is tremendously important for me to understand the process as well. I can probably blame my background in research for that! When you're experimenting, mistakes and failure are inevitable. The trial and error aspect of gardening and homesteading is a large part of why I love the lifestyle. It just really suits me personally. There is plenty to learn - seemingly endless things to try! And, it is really important for me to find my own way. What works for someone else might not work for me - we all live in different climates, have our own unique soil, pest problems, and varying levels of time and energy to devote to our hobbies. Finding what works within my own unique limitations is a constant experiment, and a big part of why I am drawn to this lifestyle. It is an exciting challenge.

I also think it is really important to have a clear idea of what success or failure is at the start of a project. For example, is success actually eating my own homegrown raspberries this year? Or is it simply getting them to establish a few canes, and maybe set some fruit regardless if it ripens in time? Depending on what conditions I am dealing with, that could be a big accomplishment for the first season!

What are some of your greatest rewards with a lifestyle such as the one you live? 

One of the most rewarding things about growing my own food is the incredible variety available to me, and the sense of autonomy I have from knowing where my food comes from. America's food system is deeply flawed. There is vast world of fresh food out there, outside of what we see in our grocery stores. Even with a small space, we can all have more control over our food, and enormous variety at our fingertips! This is part of why I enjoy sharing my lifestyle on social media - there is a huge community engaging in growing their own food. The information sharing is really inspiring.
I am also constantly rewarded by a deep feeling of accomplishment which comes from growing my own food and sharing it with the people I care about. It feels like such an achievement when I spend time researching, planning, and physically working towards a goal, and it all leads up to something that I can be proud of and share with others (and actually eat!). It is literally the fruit of all that labor! Also, learning is a big reward for me. Even if I don't have an actual vegetable to eat or give to someone else, I probably learned a lesson from my mistakes which I can write down or pass along to others.

What are your favorite crops to grow on your little Atlanta Urban Homestead?I'm addicted to tomatoes. Hands down they are my favorite thing to grow, anywhere. This is more about the crop than the actual fun of growing them - I think tomatoes from the store are an entirely different fruit, and I don't enjoy the taste or texture. I refuse to eat them. But homegrown tomatoes are out of this world! My dad always grew tomatoes when I was young, and every summer I would wait so impatiently for them to ripen, I could hardly contain myself. Tomatoes are a huge part of what motivated me to start growing food myself, in fact they were the first thing I ever planted. Once I moved away from home, I needed my own homegrown supply!

I had no trouble growing them when I lived in California. But now, in Atlanta, growing tomatoes can actually be pretty challenging. Especially because for the most part I aim for high volume in a small space. I'm always cramming lots of plants in together because I can't seem to limit myself on the varieties - that is a mistake I make repeatedly! They definitely produce, but I probably make the process harder on myself than necessary because I really push the limits. In my front yard garden, I trellis most of my tomato plants up 10 foot tall vertical trellises at the head of my raised beds. This way I can grow many different varieties in a small space. But small space gardening can be a ton of work - I'm always out there pruning away, and battling all kinds of bugs and various diseases from the humidity we have in Atlanta. It's worth it for me though... nothing beats a perfectly ripe homegrown tomato!
Since living in Atlanta, I've also been exposed to some really interesting new vegetables. I think its very important to grow plants that are native to the area. I'm always giving that advice to people when they ask what plants to grow -- you have to really take the individual variability of your microclimate and soil type into account when choosing specific varieties. It truly cuts down on maintenance and increases yield. Not surprisingly, "southern" crops are the ones that do the best in Atlanta, at least for me. I had never grown okra or cowpeas before moving to Atlanta, and now I love them!

Follow @snickelfritty on Instagram! 

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