Homestead Life

Wanna Go Homesteady? Part 2

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?

peach jam

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 grapevine. 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.

Do you strive to be more self-sufficient? What ways have you become more self-reliant that I didn’t mention here?

8 Comments on “Wanna Go Homesteady? Part 2

  1. We can not currently have chickens or a garden but we have found a farm to buy from through CSA. We are going to try growning tomatoes since we can can them for many uses. This is our starting point. We will be able to buy a house in about two years and them we can do so amazing things!

    1. Hi Stephanie,
      It’s great that you have a CSA 🙂 And growing your own tomatoes is so rewarding! Best wishes with your future house hunt…it can be so much fun!

  2. Our dream is to some day have a couple acres but since we can’t afford that now, we’re just hoping to find a new home with around an acre of land to grow more food on. These are some great ideas, we volunteered at the community garden last year and got a ton of extra produce in exchange which was wonderful!

    1. Hi Annie,
      I hope you find what you are looking for. Looking back at our years of home ownership I realize there are some changes I would make if I were to do it again. We have owned 3 homes and each time we sold and bought a new place, we lost money that we put into the house. If I could do it over, I would stay in the first house until we had enough saved to move into a larger ag property.

      Can’t tell you what to do, but it might be better to keep saving until you have a larger down payment and can afford a larger property. That’s a tough call though! Best wishes!

  3. I dream of living in the country with enough space to grow everything I need, but in the meantime, I garden on my city lot. I have dug up almost all of my lawn to plant edibles. Bit by bit. Nobody complains to the city because I share the harvest with my neighbours. Also, some food plants can sneak under the radar. I have a row of gooseberry bushes for a “hedge”, blueberry bushes look like other shrubs for most of the year. Swiss chard, especially the rainbow varieties look like ornamental plants. I keep the things that don’t look like food in the front yard, and the regular garden patch in the back and side yards. It’s amazing how much you can grow in a little space.
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Natalie,
      Thanks for sharing your secrets 🙂 I planted little gardens in every city lot we lived in, just little plots of lettuce and a tomato plant or two. They were all apartments and I had to be careful not to upset the landlords. But it was fun! Best wishes with your dream 🙂 I hope you can move to the country someday.

  4. Hey Lisa Lynn! I probably told you this, but I live on .18 of an acre, so I totally get some of the ideas you gave, because I do them! We have two chickens, 4 small gardens, and we use food co-ops, amongst some of your other ideas. My mantra has been to ‘bloom where you are planted’–and we’ve been planted here!

    Thanks for sharing at the Farm Girl Blog Fest!
    ~Kristi @Let This Mind Be in You

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