Before I got the chance to move out to some acreage and work the land that I’m currently at, I dreamed about homesteading. My wife tried her hand at a garden or two. We looked at the idea of keeping some chickens, we had a little compost pile. And the thing is, we were homesteading. Of course, at that point, I didn’t know the term Urban Homesteading, but it is kind of what we were doing.
This is a new push and I have to say that I’m a fan. Combined with the term Suburban Homesteading it is opening people up to the idea that you truly can start your homesteading journey where ever you are. If you are in the suburbs you don’t need to merely dream of moving out to the country and getting hundreds of acres, you can do bits and pieces right where you are. For example, why not try growing a garden. Even if you don’t grow a vegetable garden, growing flowers can be a major help. The more flowers there are the more food sources there are for pollinators. This could be someone’s honeybees, some native mason bees or perhaps even some butterflies. If you have space in your yard and are looking to plant a tree, why not plant a fruit or a nut tree.
Now in the suburbs, there are some other considerations to take into account. First off is your lot size, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t run a good homestead on a quarter of an acre or less. Mother Earth News and other similar publications frequently have diagrams to show how you can lay out a quarter acre to produce much of what you need. For another resource look at The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre! You will need to look into local laws and see if there are restrictions from any Home Owner’s Associations. Also, since you might be a bit closer to your neighbors, take them into account. Chickens might make some noise to annoy them or a hive of bees might frighten the uninformed, but some eggs or a jar of honey can go a long way to them not minding and it builds the community a bit more.
In the urban environment, you might need to get a little bit more creative. Even if you only have a balcony you can look into a few planter boxes and work on growing a salad garden or some herbs. But growing isn’t the only homesteading skill. Since cooking with and preserving fresh ingredients can be just as important as being able to grow them, you can visit a farmer’s market for fresh locally grown produce and then work cooking and putting them up for later. Some people have done things like started keeping bees on their building’s roof. You might even have space to put a single hive on your balcony. Believe it or not, the city is a good place for bees, as there are often quite many flower boxes and green spaces not all that far away. And again, even just growing a flower box out a window or on a balcony could help some other bees.
But I’d like to hear from you, what sort of Urban or Suburban Homesteading have you taken part in or are planning on doing this year.