Plan Out a More Self-sufficient Future
Fueled by an uncertain economy, rising food prices, contaminated products and high energy prices, many people have started trying to go back to their roots, discovering the lost art of raising crops and animals, running home based businesses and home schooling their children – all from urban and suburban backyards.
What is Urban Homesteading?
Broadly defined, urban homesteading is the practice of being more self-sufficient. While it centers mostly on food production, a lot of other elements are also important to urban homesteaders. Magazines, books and blogs about urban homesteading highlight efforts to save on utility costs, find alternative sources of energy and water, conserve resources and create less waste. It involves a simpler lifestyle with less spending and consumerism. Many homesteaders create their own cleaning and personal care products,make toys and gifts, and sew clothes. They also learn how to do automotive and household repairs and projects.
The basic tenets of homesteading can be beneficial to anyone who starts to incorporate them into their lives, even if they do not become fully committed to the agrarian lifestyle. It’s also a great way to teach children and give them back the skills that their forefathers took for granted. By helping in the garden, they can watch the whole growing process and get an appreciation of nature. By making due with less, they learn to be less driven by consumerism.
Getting Started on an Urban Homestead
Setting goals is one of the most important steps in getting started. While these goals may change as people move forward in the process, they form a foundation for learning and activities.
One basic goal for an urban homestead is how much food to grow or produce. Many people aim for a percentage of their menus to come from home produced food. The next step is to determine how and where to grow or raise food. Many homesteaders raise chickens and other farm animals; planning pens and checking on local rules must be done first.
Raising vegetables, and using container gardening if there is not much space in the yard is another part of food production. Starting small is encouraged to prevent burn out. Instead of planting a whole yard full of crops, try a few beds or containers for the first season. Hunting and fishing can be included in food planning.
Monetary goals are another part of the planning process. In an ideal situation, an urban homesteader would not need to work outside the homestead at all and would be able to support a family simply by what they grow and create. With taxes,mortgages,and credit card expenses left behind from “the old life” this isn’t always possible. Getting out of debt, paying off credit cards, car payments and mortgages is often an initial task. Many homesteaders move to smaller homes or eliminate cars in favor of bicycles or walking.
In the beginning, give some thought to future work and home based business opportunities. Urban homesteaders often create their own businesses, such as selling items they make or grow or a service based business. Many others turn to the modern equivalent of a cottage business – affiliate marketing, web design and other technology centered vocations. Early in the process, think about hobbies and skills that could be turned into a business.
Conserve Energy and Find Alternative Fuel Sources
Another feature of self sufficiency is finding ways to conserve energy, water and other resources, and looking for alternative sources of fuel like woodstoves and fireplaces. Think of ways to conserve; some ideas are simple acts like line drying clothing and cutting back on television and computer usage.
Do it Yourself
Homesteaders often choose to be less dependent on outside services and commercial products. Some examples of tasks to take on are:
- Repairing mechanical and electronic items
- Building furniture
- Making natural products for cleaning and personal care - like laundry detergent, soap and toothpaste
- Home schooling children
There are many elements involved in urban homesteading. While not all homesteaders adopt all of them, small steps toward self sufficiency can save money and lead to a simpler lifestyle.
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