Is your lifestyle urban or you are more of a homesteading person? Homesteading may be attractive, but not too many of us are ready to give up on perks of urban living. What if I told you that urban homesteading was possible?
Homesteaders are a minority when it comes to numbers, but this lifestyle is gaining popularity in recent years. And it’s only natural. With all the pollution, political unrest, epidemics, and natural disasters, we search for other ways to live in harmony with nature. Or at least not to destroy it at such alarming rates.
I believe that some kind of homesteading is the future of humankind. Back-to-the-land movements may appear regressive, especially considering the wild advancement of our technology. It’s more alluring to think that we’ll have smart robots to do all the work for us while we sit and push the buttons. Or to look up to the skies and dream about terraforming and colonizing Mars. But, how on earth could we ever transform Mars or any other planet if we can’t preserve the perfect planet that we live on?
That’s why I believe in homesteading and similar concepts. Homesteading is all about self-sufficiency. Maybe not every one of us should become completely self-sufficient, but unless we create sustainable communities and societies, we will perish sooner or later.
In the meantime, you can join the “light side of the Force” and start to homestead in the city.
What Is Urban Homesteading?
There are so many different opinions on what homesteading is. But they all revolve around self-sufficiency. When it comes to urban homesteads, the lines are even blurrier. But, essentially, it is a lifestyle based on homesteading principles. While you can’t be completely self-sufficient in a city, there are several things you can do to take the road towards a sustainable life. If you adopt these ideas and start some projects, you can call yourself an urban homesteader.
Obviously, living conditions in our cities can vary wildly. Living in a small downtown apartment is far more challenging for your homesteading ambitions than having a house and a strip of land in the suburbs. But, you can always find ways to lean towards a sustainable lifestyle.
Homesteading is not only about growing food and farming. Especially in urban areas. It covers all aspects of our lives and some of them are easily viable in cities. Just think about it: using renewable energy sources, collecting rainwater, reusing greywater, sewing clothes, learning DIY and repairing skills, canning, drying, and fermenting food. All these activities increase your independence and sustainability. Even riding a bike instead of a car is a step forward. However, urban agriculture is the backbone of urban homesteading.
So, everyone can take some actions and aim in the right direction.
How to Start Homesteading in the City
I know so many people that dream about homesteading. But I know only a few of them who took the bull by the horns and started their adventure. And it is understandable. It is difficult to give up the way of life that you’ve invested so much into.
But, urban homesteading is an acceptable compromise. It allows you to transform your lifestyle at your own pace.
Make a Plan
The first step is usually the most difficult one to take. So, make a plan to make it easier. Start small. You can have some long-term plans, but it’s much more important to set achievable short-term goals. Reaching each milestone will make you happy, proud, and eager to continue. The first steps should never be overwhelming. You’re probably inexperienced and something will certainly go wrong.
In all kinds of projects, early stages have the highest quit rates. So, be prepared to face and overcome a few setbacks. But, it is only possible if you set small, realistic goals, and don’t get ahead of yourself.
Grow Whatever You Can
Unlike traditional homesteads, you don’t have plenty of land to grow food. But, a resourceful person can find the way. Living in an apartment is a limiting factor but you can use your balcony or south-facing windows to grow some veggies and spices.
If you have a garden, backyard, and patios, you can convert some of it into your own growing space. You’ll be surprised how much you can get from a little strip of land. If paving and patios take too much space, you can use containers to grow your herbs. There’s also a possibility of vertical gardening to maximize the use of tight spaces.
Do some research to find out which plants you can grow considering the local climate. Once you’ve done that, you can grow some veggies, fruits, spices, and medicinal herbs.
Be practical: some plants can be both decorative and edible.
Also, check out if there are community gardens available for growing food in your town.
Canning, Drying, and Fermenting
It’s lovely to have your own fresh fruits and veggies. However, most of them won’t stay fresh for too long. So, here comes the second homesteading skill – preserving food. Homemade jams and jellies are incomparable with those you buy at the supermarket. They are infinitely better!
So, get ready for the next learning stage. Freezing, drying, fermenting – you need to learn these skills to preserve your food.
Some plants don’t require fertilizing, but the majority do. And your soil will degrade unless you fertilize it. So, your soil also needs respect and care.
Natural compost is the solution. Actually, it’s a two-in-one benefit. You will produce less garbage and your land will allow your soil to regenerate and stay fertile. It’s a kind of magic, isn’t it?
You’d be surprised how many edible wild plants you can find as soon as you walk out of the town. Actually, some of these plants find a way to grow in towns and cities in pavement cracks, public parks, and backyards. Foraging is another way to provide some naturally-grown food.
Connecting and Trading
Connect with your neighbors and other urban homesteaders. You can trade both food and experience with them. Because of the limited spaces, you can make a deal with your neighbors to grow different kinds of food and trade them. Socializing with a focus on homesteading skills is rewarding in many ways. It’s the interaction with other people that can allow you to improve and optimize your little urban homestead.
I have only scratched the surface of urban homesteading. But, it’s the most important part – the beginning. Urban sustainability comes with more challenges than the traditional one. I am not saying that it is more difficult – it isn’t, but each household has different opportunities and obstacles.
However, once you get started, the pride and joy of becoming more independent and self-sufficient will outweigh the challenges and difficulties. And when you feel those rich tastes and aromas of homegrown products, you will never want to go back to commercial food.