Urban Homesteading: Is it Really Possible? (My 5 Truths About Urban Homesteading)
Someone made a comment to me recently--that we are not REAL homesteaders. Nor do we REALLY live off-grid (which is a topic for another day). Well, I would argue that "YES," we are homesteaders. Do we have tons of acreage? Nope. Do we raise cattle for meat or milk? Nope. Do we live completely off the land? Nope. However, we are still homesteaders, even on our little 3/4 acre property in an HOA located in a small rural village.
And this whole conversation inspired another question: Can you really be an "Urban" homesteader? I say, "YES" to that concept too! I personally first identified myself as an URBAN homesteader while living in a city of about three million people several years ago!
OK. You can stop laughing now! Lose the skepticism, friends!
Here's why it is possible to become and be a homesteader in even a completely URBAN environment!
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How Is it Possible to Be an Urban Homesteader?
1) Urban homesteading is by its very nature different than Rural homesteading
Yes, people always think of a homesteader as a person who lives in a rural area...maybe even in a remote area. A person with some land and space----
Well, I say this is true to an extent. But I also know plenty of people who live on amazing rural properties who do NOT homestead at all. They are just as reliant on stores and modern ways of living as most of us these days. They have absolutely no interest in applying independent skills to their lives. Does this make them bad? Nope. But it sure makes them NOT a homesteader.
Homesteading is a MINDSET.
Of course where you live will impact what you are able to do and not do in terms of homesteading. That's pretty obvious.
So, when I say you can be an URBAN homesteader, what I mean is that if you have or are developing the mindset of self-reliance, independence from commercialism, and either have or are developing the ability to do things/learn things/apply skill sets to solve problems, then you are most definitely a homesteader.
Therefore, if you are homestead dreaming, then perhaps you should reframe your thinking. Become that homesteader RIGHT NOW---no matter where you live. Learn traditional skills like how to ferment your foods, how to bake bread, sewing, even cool trades like black-smithing!
Why not learn how to make your own medicines from herbs and essential oils? How about hunting for your food? Or raising chickens or goats, if that is allowed in your town? There are TONS of things you can start learning about and actually doing right now that make you a homesteader---even if you are living in a small apartment!
2) You still feel empowered about growing your own food---even in containers; even in smaller amounts
It's very true that you may not be able to grow as much food as you can on a larger property with more acreage. However, look at all the examples we are seeing these days of small city lots raising enough food to feed several families!
I know many folks in my home town of Las Vegas who live in a condominium or apartment, and still manage to grow a few tomato plants on the balcony! Or herbs on the window sill in the kitchen! Container gardening is a "THING." I did it. You can do it, too. There is something just primitively amazing about picking your own home grown vegetables, even if they are growing in a pot.
My husband and I rented a really nice home in an upscale area at one point in Las Vegas. We were there for a year. Well, the property manager had some very strict rules about what we were NOT allowed to do on the property. We could not plant ANY thing. Nothing. Nada. Zero. Zilch. Unreal!
So, we went and bought some large pots, sprinkled these around the rock areas of the back yard, and grew peppers, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, various squash, and more out there.
We simply hooked up a little drip system, made sure those pots didn't dry out in the 120 degree summer heat, and managed to eat fresh foods at least some of the time! We also grew most of our own herbs: Thyme, oregano, rosemary, basil, cilantro, and more---all in pots.
Urbanites all over are turning to ways to garden and grow their own foods that work for them. I call that person a homesteader!
3) There are TONS of skills urban homesteaders can and should develop to empower self reliance
This is closely related to #1, above, but I think it bears more examination in the definition of "urban homesteading."
One of my friends recently invited me to join this Facebook group called the Food and Seed Sharing Swap (or something like that). It's a pretty cool group! The folks involved in the group are all local to the Las Vegas area and neighboring towns (like our village), and monthly meetings take place in group members' homes who volunteer to host.
Basically, in order to attend, you need to bring homemade, handmade, or home grown items to swap with others! It's pretty open-ended, and everything from traditionally preserved foods, fermented foods, dehydrated foods/jerkeys, to handmade crochet products, herbal tinctures, soaps, tools for various things, and more are shared.
What amazes me about this group is the incredibly wide assortment of homestead skills everyone has and brings to these meetings. And these are people living primarily in suburbia within the limits of Las Vegas, Nevada--a city of currently close to three million people.
See? YOU can do this too!
Find a traditional skill you think you can become passionate about, and just start learning, experimenting, and doing it! This will spread to learning and doing even more things, I promise. And this is one way an urban homesteader is born.
Although I always gardened, I feel my huge homestead growth spurt happened with I began learning about herbalism. It was exciting to create actual remedies and medicines from plants that actually worked BETTER than the ones in the stores! Without the chemicals! I can honestly say if the grid ever went down, I know enough about the plants in our area now, that I could create useful and beneficial plant medicines and first aid solutions to solve all kinds of issues.
My love of plants has helped me graduate into making herbal soaps, body care products, and fermenting foods the traditional way, besides becoming an herbalist.
That was my thing, though.
What about you?
Are you living in a city and feel frustrated with how things are? Do you dislike having to buy commercial products that are filled with toxins? You can DO something to learn new skills and traditions. Find out what floats your boat and go for it! Even if you're in a town.
4) It is absolutely the coolest thing when you can help a neighbor out because of your special skills
You will be amazed at the people who will appreciate the old traditional ways you can share with them.
Yes, there are always going to be people who look at you strangely and even laugh in your face (Yup! It's happened to me!) when you passionately try to explain why you do some of the traditional things you will do. But. So what?
The BEST thing is when people start asking you about what traditional skill you are learning, and want to know more about it. Or, in my case, my friends, family, and neighbors often call me or stop by to see if I can help them with something herbal. Isn't that cool? To be able to help and share with others, and not be beholden to the commercial systems.
People are becoming wiser these days, as well as increasingly mistrustful of Big Government, Big Ag (agriculture), Big Business, Big Pharma, and the money/power plays that happen among the above, to the detriment of the citizens.
More and more, people are understanding that it is possible and even necessary to take some measure of control over our lives by becoming more independent of the systems currently in place.
5) It's real. It can be done. URBAN homesteading is as VALID as what most of us "think" of when we talk about traditional homesteading in a rural setting.
Guys, urban homesteading has become a "thing." It's here. It's valuable. It's amazing. Most of all, it's a valid form of homesteading that has its place in our current modern society.
I think this is one of the most exciting times in the evolution of the American people! I, like a growing number of others, recognize that our current systems are debilitating the people, and I think more and more are finding out about the dangerous consequences of these systems.
Those who know and understand the issues are starting to take charge of their lives and health by learning old ways and skills. This knowledge and understanding IS spreading, and I predict we will continue to see more and more folks edging into homesteading of one kind or another.
And you know what? Even in a city---if you can use a skill to barter, that's valuable, my friends.
Final Thoughts on Urban Homesteading
O.K. I know that the people who are going to bother reading this article are probably the same friends who will agree with me.
But if you run across someone who is struggling, let's guide each other to more traditional ways. Let's continue to learn and grow and not be so dependent on current systems: Big Government, Big Ag, Big Pharma, Big Business.
Let's help each other out. Encourage each other. Support those who are developing skills in the old traditions!
What are your thoughts on urban homesteading and becoming more self-reliant even in a large urban center? Do you think it's possible? What are you learning to do? What are you already doing? I would LOVE if you would leave a comment in the comments section about this topic.
You might also be interested in these articles: My 10 Truths About the Homesteading Life, You Might Be a Homesteader IF..., Homesteading on a Small Property, the Trials & Joys, and more on the website!
Hugs & Self-Reliance,
P.S. If you haven't done this yet, please go ahead and sign up for the Healing Harvest Newsletter! You'll never miss a thing, and you'll also get our two free eBooks, plus more as I get them done! Just click here!
P.P.S. Here are some of my favorite homesteading resources: The Pigness of Pigs (and anything by Joel Salatin), The Made from Scratch Life, The Suburban Microfarm, The Beginner's Guide to Medicinal Herbs (and anything by Rosemary Gladstar), Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, How to Make Ancient Healing Beers, and there are many more!