Making the Most of What You Have
Moving Won’t Work for Everyone
Last week, in part 1 of “Wanna Go Homesteady?”, I talked about how we moved from a suburban lot to our 1 acre property in the country. We are so happy that we moved here and I know that there are many people who would like to do the same thing. However, not everyone will live in an area where rural homesteading properties are plentiful and (somewhat) affordable. If you work in an urban area or property values are astronomical, moving to an acre of land and planting a big garden are unlikely prospects. So what to do?
Small Space Homesteading
The mantra I keep repeating to myself is ‘Happiness is a homestead, no matter how small.’ Our current property is not as large as we hoped. One acre isn’t a lot of space for raising livestock, but we are able to fit a lot of garden space, dwarf fruit trees, chickens, and a little greenhouse on our homestead. I keep plugging away to grow more fruits, vegetables, and a few of my own grains each year.
Add something new each year. Acquire a new skill, plant a new perennial crop, order chicks, buy more canning jars or maybe a food dehydrator, pressure canner, freezer…whatever you can afford and you know you will be able to use. Even if you don’t have room for an orchard, you might be able to fit some strawberries or even a trellised grape vine. Maybe you don’t have room for a chicken coop, but you might be able to keep a few quail for eggs (and meat) or rabbits for meat.
Where do I Start?
Are you at a loss for where to begin? Or maybe you have an even smaller space than I have for producing your own food. Even if you live in an urban setting, you can still do things to become more self sufficient. A lot of folks grow container gardens on balconies or rooftops in the city. There are a number of helpful books that can help you get the most out of such a garden. Many urban areas have community gardens where you can rent a plot to grow your own food. If there aren’t any, look around for space nearby that might be turned into a community garden. Is there a church, community center, or company with a large open yard that they might be willing to turn into a garden space? You’ll never know if you don’t ask. It may be helpful if you offer to donate extra produce to a food bank.
Perhaps you have friends or family close by who have space in their yard where you could grow a garden. Check with them to see if they are willing to turn part of their lawn into a vegetable garden, and be sure to share the harvest with them. If you have your own lawn, that’s even better. Check to see what the ordinances are about planting vegetables in your yard. If there are rules against it, you may be able to sneak quite a few veggies in among the ornamental plants. A lot of produce can be raised using intensive gardening practices. I’ve been reading the Quarter Acre Farm, and the author is raising 75% of the food she needs in that quarter acre lawn. She also has a few poultry for eggs and rabbits that produce manure to fertilize her plot. That’s great for a small suburban or urban lot, but not everyone has that much to work with.
Even if you can’t garden or keep poultry, you might be able to join a food co-op, or buying club, to purchase organic and bulk foods. Using whole grains, fresh fruits and veggies, and smaller amounts of meats is healthier for you than eating processed foods. Grow sprouts on your counter. Forage for wild foods. Cook from scratch, bake your own bread, increase the raw foods you eat, and reduce the amount of sugar and unhealthy fats in your diet. This will prevent many diseases and reduce your need for medical care, especially as you age. That is a form of self sufficiency too.