The Dervaes Family’s Urban Homestead
I think a lot of people have common misconceptions about what the term ‘homesteading’ means. Many assume that you have to live on a chunk of country land with several farm animals and a large garden to be considered a homesteader. But the Urban Homesteading movement is on the rise, giving a new meaning to the term ‘homesteading’ and new freedoms to city dwellers who thought they’d never have a chance to live more self-sufficiently where they are.
There are common characteristics between all homesteaders, no matter where they live. We all have a strong desire to eat home-grown, nutritious food; REAL food, enjoyed the way God intended. We enjoy gardening, whether it’s on a large plot of land or in containers on our back patio; wherever we are we’re growing something. We long for simpler living, and days gone by when people used to enjoy real company and conversations instead of being glued to electronic gadgets 24-7.
We want to learn how to live without depending on others to take care of us, in every way possible. We strive toward debt free living, and spend modestly and purposefully. We tend to shy away from man-made pharmaceuticals, and are excited to learn new ways of treating ourselves naturally. We love organic products and learning how to make them, especially homemade soap and other toiletries, cosmetics, and household cleaners. Learning how to harness alternative energy appeals to us. Whether that means we install a solar panel system to fully live off grid, or if it’s as simple as building a solar dehydrator, using free energy is a goal we all share. And we center our daily lives around our family (and in most cases, around our Creator).
There are so many things you can do to homestead wherever you are. If you’d like to join the movement, consider making several of these lifestyle changes, and adding more notches to your belt over time.
30 Ways You Can Get Started Homesteading Today
1. Learn to grow your own food and herbs. Start small, with just a couple of plants, and build your garden slowly. Make the most of the space you have available to you, even if it’s a sunny window sill!
2. Learn how to bake bread from scratch. Get a second-hand bread machine to help you get an easy start.
3. Consider purchasing a wheat grinder and grinding your own wheat.
4. Learn how to make homemade soap. Once you’ve got that mastered, maybe you can learn how to make lye from ashes!
6. Practice using herbal and natural remedies to treat your family’s ailments.
7. Get a water bath canner and start canning by learning how to make jellies. Then learn how to can other things. Work your way up to using a pressure canner for canning your own meat and meals-in-a-jar.
8. Practice drying/ dehydrating foods to preserve them.
9. Plant a few fruit trees and berry bushes in your yard, if you are able.
10. Learn how to milk a cow or a goat. Even if you don’t have room to own an animal where you live, there are small farms out there who are willing to “share” an animal with city dwellers.
11. Get backyard chickens and start eating your own fresh eggs. From there learn how to butcher your own meat.
12. Learn animal husbandry, even if you only have room for a couple of rabbits.
13. Consider learning how to keep bees and harvesting your own honey.
14. Put up a clothesline and hang dry your clothes.
15. Learn how to make your own household cleaners. There are tons of recipes online to help you get started.
16. Determine to cook from scratch instead of eating expensive processed foods.
17. Learn how to make candles.
18. Learn how to sew. Start with hemming pants, and work your way to sewing your own skirts.
19. Learn to barter. Trade goods or skills for the things you need.
21. Become familiar with the wild edible plants that grow in your area. Learn how to identify them, and practice using them in your meals.
22. Consider what you can make or grow yourself and sell your goods at a local farmer’s market.
23. Practice composting your leftover fruit and veggie scraps and law cuttings instead of throwing them into the garbage.
24. Build your home library with books on gardening, herbal remedies, animal husbandry, preserving food, soapmaking, and anything homesteading and self-sufficient living related. (The Encyclopedia of Country Living is hands-down the best homesteading book available.)
25. Install rain barrels to catch water for your garden or for emergency drinking water.
26. Practice living without electricity. Have a non-electric backup plan to get you through your daily necessities.
27. Use alternative energy, like solar, wind, and hydro power.
28. Learn how to hunt and fish. Go to a hunt club if you don’t have land to hunt on.
29. Find a small family farm or homestead to volunteer on. You can learn so many practical skills while you help. You’ll also begin building an important network of like-minded friends along the way!
30. And my final words of advice… get rid of your t.v. You can’t imagine how much more productive your days and your minds will be without the trash we are fed through that thing.
So, whadya think? Are you ready to call yourself a homesteader now that you know a little more about how to homestead? Which of these things are you already doing, and which can you work toward where you are right now?
And what other things can we add to this list? How are you homesteading today?
Next up… Homesteading When You’re Flat Broke!