Homesteading is a journey, a process.
Learning to become an urban homesteader is all about the art of making do with what you have, where you are and going forward into a dream. A dream where you can take care of yourself, grow your own food, and be “one with” the world around you.
Urban homesteading is characterized by subsistence agriculture or home preservation of foodstuffs. Homesteading may or may not also involve the small scale production of clothing and craftwork for household use. These items can also be for sale to generate income.
Pursued in different ways around the world — and in different historical eras — homesteading is generally differentiated from rural village or commune living by isolation (either socially or physically) of the homestead.
Many homesteaders do homestead on less than a sprawling acreage. In fact, small homesteads that have less than 1/4 acre are becoming more the “norm” than the “odd”.
So, how you do begin to become an urban homesteader? Well, you don’t become one overnight…it comes in stages.
To start with, it’s about the mindset.
A homesteading mindset usually starts with “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” You become more thrifty and creative in how you garden, preserve your food, and use what you have instead of buying new. You are less likely to upgrade your cell phone every time a new model comes out, and if anyone on the block is without cable TV, it’s probably you. Your lawn being manicured becomes less and less important as you remove grass to make room for more tomatoes.
Next, comes the gateway drug animal: chickens.
Most of us started our homestead with a couple of hens, and then it just expanded from there to a flock of dozens. You’ll want to check with local codes before you get the fluffy bottomed creatures, but many cities and towns are becoming more and more chicken friendly. A chicken truly is a gateway animal when homesteading, because after them, usually comes bees, goats, rabbits, quail and even fish in the form of aquaponics.
Along with animals and a thrifty mindset comes the idea that you can make nearly ANYTHING yourself that you used to buy.
Sure, it starts out small with mayo and bread, but next you are fermenting and sprouting all the foods. You’ll stop buying toothpaste, laundry soap and dish soap as you figure out you can make it yourself far cheaper and with less chemicals. As you realize how you are saving money, you will start taking drastic steps toward getting out of debt. You’ll scour the county, looking for pallets for your DIY projects and anything you can turn into a garden bed.
Then, the final stages of homesteading: going off grid.
You’ll start researching composting toilets, setting up rain barrels, and solar panels. You may even try your hand at building a rocket stove mass heater instead of using your furnace in the winter. You’ll find new and creative ways to line dry your clothing in the winter and you may even get rid of your washing machine in the end to hand wash your clothes.
During this time, you’ll gain a growing feeling of contentment.
You’ll find that nothing tastes as good as a tomato that you grew yourself, or that homemade jam spread on fresh bread. You will start to think that nothing is as entertaining as watching your chickens peck around and fight over the kitchen scraps. You’ll discover a new love for worms, dirt and all things compostable. Yes, you are a homesteader.