Many reasons, new and old, contribute to the current growing interest in leading a more self-sufficient lifestyle. While many people assume that creating a homestead or becoming more self-sufficient requires a move to a large property located in the middle of nowhere, it is entirely possible to build your own homestead just about anywhere.
If you’re interested in understanding urban homesteads and how to create your own, this is a great place to start. Whether you want to stay in a centralized city location or need some tips to hold you over until you make your way to the country, here is what you need to know to get started.
Urban Homesteading – What Does it Mean?
Urban homesteading generally means striving to generate most of the food your household consumes in an urban setting, which might include crops and livestock. A homesteader makes an effort to produce as much of their own food as they can, as well as to live as sustainably as they can.
The goal of homesteading is self-sufficiency, and the phrase has evolved to include composting, recycling, resource conservation, and food preservation techniques, including canning, drying, and freezing. But compared to living in the country, leading a sustainable lifestyle may seem a little more challenging in an urban setting.
Urban homesteading can save you money in the long term. However, it can be an expensive lifestyle to start. You will likely need to purchase supplies or equipment when getting started, but such investments will prove to be useful.
After all, urban homesteading isn’t just a lifestyle change – it is an investment. There will certainly be some monthly expenses to consider. However, once you have developed your systems, your costs are usually low and yield adequate returns.
Here are a few tips to help you begin your urban homesteading journey…
1. Grow Fruits and Veggies
Believe it or not, plenty of people grow their own food in their apartments, and it doesn’t even require a patio or flower bed! Of course, if you have an outdoor space, there are many ways to grow your own food. You’ll just have to get creative with spacing and maybe even hydroponic gardens.
If you aren’t able to grow food in your apartment because of spacing issues or lease agreements, you can still grow your own fruits and vegetables. The best place to start is by researching nearby community gardens. You can grow your own food and contribute to a larger purpose.
2. Raise Animals
If space allows, raising animals like chickens or bees provides a rather easy way to create more sustainable sources of food for you and your family. This likely won’t be possible if you live in a small apartment. However, if you have a bit of yard space, it can easily provide sufficient space to raise your own small livestock.
There are many benefits to adding this strategy to your new urban homesteading approach. To determine whether it is permitted inside the city limits, consult your local city code.
The benefits of letting your hens roam freely in your backyard include bug control, fertilizer production, shallow tilling of the garden beds, amusement from their antics, and, of course, the production of eggs.
3. Make Your Own Dishes
Simply knowing how to prepare homemade versions of your preferred takeout or frozen meals is a terrific first step you should take when beginning to homestead. Not just learning to cook but also have a passion for it is the first important component in leading a homesteading lifestyle.
You don’t have to dive in feet first. Simply trying a few of your favorite recipes at home or creating the perfect chicken noodle soup recipe can be enough to ignite your excitement regarding cooking. The primary goal is to expand your cooking skills and make preparing your own meals part of your daily routine.
4. Start Preserving Food
How much produce you can grow in such a tiny space will amaze you. You will lose a lot of the fruits and vegetables you worked so hard to raise if you don’t learn how to preserve the food you have worked so hard to grow. Every homesteader should learn how to can since it is an important skill.
Using mason jars for canning allows you to preserve all of your produce. You could just preserve them as is or make delectable jams and jellies. Canning enables you to enjoy your produce all year long when the growing season is finished, and you are unable to gather your vegetables fresh from the vine.
Canning isn’t the only way to preserve the food you grow. In fact, each food has a variety of unique ways to preserve them in how best suits your taste and lifestyle. Some preservation methods require equipment. So, your best option is to do a little research and learn about what works best for you.
5. Fishing and Hunting
Depending on where you are located, you may have access to outdoor areas or bodies of water that provide an opportunity to hunt or fish. After all, homesteading isn’t only about growing your own food. Sometimes it involves catching your next meal if you prefer to include meat in your diet.
While this is not available to people living in all urban areas, it is certainly something to consider if you live in an area with access to these types of areas, it can benefit you in many ways to take advantage of it. Not only can you save money, but it also provides a much more sustainable means of sourcing your food.
6. If You Choose to Shop, Keep it Local and Sustainable
To be a homesteader, you don’t have to make everything yourself. In this way of living, the community is important. When possible, buy everything locally from boutiques, galleries, breweries, and wineries, as well as farmers’ markets.
Try your best to promote ethical fashion and sustainably created products when you shop online. It’s pricey, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t afford it right now. Make changes where you can and educate yourself as a consumer on how to support brands that follow a more sustainable movement.
7. Keep Basic Foods in Your Pantry
All of those bags of greasy snacks hanging around your pantry not only impacts your health. It is also part of a much larger set of issues related to processed foods, unsustainable packaging, and beyond. Instead, stock your pantry with basic kitchen staples.
Rice, beans, lentils, dried mushrooms, almonds, dried fruit, honey, grains, flour, yeast, sugar, and various dry herbs and spices are some of the staples found in a pantry. By keeping these items in your pantry, you’ll be more likely to whip up a homemade meal rather than grabbing a box of convenience food.
What’s even better is that these foods last a very long time and are incredibly versatile. Many of these products are available in eco-friendly packaging and are readily available in bulk, which lessens your overall impact on the waste you create.
Composting is a very easy next step because it doesn’t require a great deal of effort or know-how. You can compost everything from eggshells and coffee grinds to your vegetative leftovers. Compost your cooking leftovers that are vegetative.
Choose a larger bin or compost container if you have the extra space outside. Keep in mind that meats and oils should not be composted. They attract rats and take a very long time to decompose.
You’ll know your compost is finished when it’s brown, has no obvious plant parts, and has an earthy fragrance. When this happens, you can put it in your garden beds or containers.
9. Upcycling and DIY
You must depend less on the services you’re used to as an urban homesteader. This entails learning how to create as many homemade goods as you can. Making your own cleaning supplies is an excellent place to start because it’s so simple and gets dangerous chemicals out of your house at the same time.
Then you can move on to making different health and beauty products after you feel confident making your own cleaning supplies. Once you get really comfortable sourcing and creating your own home products and self-care products, don’t be afraid to let your imagination run wild – furniture, artwork, the possibilities are endless!
Final Thoughts on How to Start an Urban Homestead
Urban homesteading is a fantastic way for those who live in more populated areas and are interested in this approach to life to live in a more sustainable way. The secret to starting your urban homestead and sticking to it is simply to start slowly.
Don’t try to make too many changes at once. Instead, slowly incorporate new and sustainable practices to ensure each one is a good fit for your lifestyle.
Ultimately, you will find that urban homesteading not only leads to a simpler and healthier life but that it is also not nearly as difficult to implement as many people think.