If you’ve checked out any shows such as Homestead Rescue, Unplugged Nation or Alaska the Last Frontier, you may be wondering, what’s homesteading and why are people choosing to live this way? The big idea behind homesteading is focusing on self-reliance, a concept that is becoming increasingly more important in today’s economy. It isn’t reserved just for people who move off the grid, either. Read on to learn about the homesteading practices you can try.
While homesteading used to be a very specific lifestyle, the definition has evolved to mean different things to different people in the modern day. What they all share is a commitment to living in a self-sufficient way.
The traditional approach to homesteading means living self-sufficiently and sustainably. Often these homesteaders will live on a farm, possibly off the grid and isolated, other times with a family group in a few homes on a property. Homesteaders will plant a garden, keep animals and hunt. They may generate their own electricity by harnessing solar, wind or water energy. Some try never to use money and try to either generate what they need or barter for it; others might make money by selling extra produce and using the income to purchase necessities.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, some homesteaders are unable to “make a go” of this lifestyle, for various reasons. Still, they want to live sustainably, so they adopt some homesteading practices, such as having a garden and preserving food while combining them with modern technology.
Why Do People Choose a Homestead Lifestyle?
The reasons a person may adopt a homesteading lifestyle are as unique and diverse as the type of homestead they call “home.” No two homesteaders are the same.
Many people are drawn to homesteading because they are interested in leading a more sustainable, environmentally friendly life. They love being able to produce their own food, generate their own energy, and to earn a living with their own two hands. Others are disillusioned with urban life and want to live more slowly and mindfully, caring for their own livestock. A few may choose to homestead for financial reasons in the face of today’s economy.
Homesteaders come from all kinds of backgrounds. Some may have lived out in the country from a young age and grew up with homesteading practices. Others may have children in whom they want to instil eco-conscious values. Others may be retiring and want to live quietly, supporting themselves on the land. All these groups crave a return to the land for their sustenance and livelihood.
Can I Have an Urban or Suburban Homestead?
Homesteading has so many approaches that it is absolutely possible to adopt certain practices to create your own urban homestead. This is an excellent option if you want to live a sustainable lifestyle but cannot move out of the city due to work or other commitments.
Start by living simply and mindfully. This can mean different things for different people. Perhaps this means cutting back on unnecessary purchases like dining out or shopping for leisure. It may involve decluttering your house and selling or donating extras like clothes, entertainment products or decorative items. Don’t forget your digital clutter!
Once you’ve created a simple environment, there are a number of homesteading practices that you can try:
- Start a small garden with vegetables that you know you’ll eat. If you don’t have a lot of space, even an herb garden in your kitchen window is a great option.
- If you have fruit trees in your backyard, harvest the fruit and learn to preserve it through freezing and canning.
- Learn to make foods from scratch. The price of bread has skyrocketed recently, so what better time to learn to make your own? There are tons of recipes online that you can check out for ideas.
- Hang your clothes outside to dry instead of using the machine. In the winter, set up a folding rack somewhere in your house.
- Make and mend your own clothes instead of buying new ones.
- Consider raising backyard chickens for meat and eggs if your local by-laws allow it.
There are endless opportunities for people to adopt a homesteading lifestyle without leaving their property. If you learn to provide and produce for yourself, you won’t be as dependent on stores and online shopping, and you’ll be able to lead a more self-sufficient lifestyle as a homesteader.