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A Beginner’s Guide to Urban HomesteadingApril 28th, 2017 by
Urban homesteading is a crossroads of self-sufficiency and modern living situations. It combines the independence of growing your own food and livestock and minimizing your energy footprint, with the accessibility of your yard, balcony, or local community.
After you read about urban homesteading, you might find you want to start relying less on larger food and energy providers and more on your own capabilities.
Growing Your Own Food
Growing your own food is a great start to making your own urban homestead. Of course, not everything grows in all areas, so find plants that should grow well in your city.
If you live in an apartment, some complexes allow residents to create a garden on the roof or on a dedicated spot of land. On the smallest scale, you have the option to grow a couple of vegetables on your deck or balcony if you have one.
If you have no room to grow your own food, try to buy from local farmer’s markets, or join a group that buys locally produced foods in bulk. Preserve anything you don’t need now by canning, freezing, smoking, or drying to keep it fresh for the rest of the year. Good staples to grow in small spaces include carrots, lettuce, and potatoes.
I’ve had fresh eggs and local honey and store-bought versions of both. I can say with no reservations that the locally produced items are way better in taste and health benefits.
If your homeowners’ association’s rules allow, keep a couple of chickens or invest in a beehive. Chickens will provide you with more eggs than you can eat, and bees will produce honey, which is good for a number of uses, like alleviating allergies, as well as your general health. If you have extra honey, it can be sold or traded for another homegrown product from a neighbor.
Farmers Market Food
If you can’t raise bees or livestock yourself, look for locally produced honey, eggs, meat, etc. Not only are you promoting the local economy, but you also know exactly where your sustenance is coming from.
Water and Energy Conservation
Urban homesteading isn’t just about supplying your own food; it’s also about decreasing your energy footprint and waste production.
Changing from regular lightbulbs to energy-efficient LEDs, installing solar panels, and carpooling or riding a bike to work are relatively easy steps to take toward urban homesteading, especially for people who live in big cities.
You can also use the sun to dry your clothes instead of using the energy required to run the dryer—you’ll see a decrease in your energy bill as well. To further help your energy bill, adjust the thermostat to keep the temperature warmer in the summer and cooler in the winter.
Note: Some homeowners’ associations prohibit hanging clothes on a clothesline or on balconies, so be not to violate any of those rules while creating new lifestyle habits.
As an alternative to drying your clothes in the sun, you can buy hanging clothes racks for inside. Even if you can’t dry all of your clothes this way, you’re still reducing the amount of energy you use.
Uses for Greywater
In addition to the above changes, you can also try to use greywater for your garden. Using greywater for irrigation purposes restores nutrients to the soil and contributes to water conservation.
Possible sources of greywater include:
- The shower
- A sink
- The washing machine
Set up simple irrigation pipes and use gravity to your advantage for irrigation systems.
Make sure the use of greywater is allowable in your area before setting up a greywater irrigation system, and avoid polluting the water sources in your area via irresponsible dumping practices or through the sewer system.
No Yard? No Problem.
Urban homesteading is an upcoming trend that will benefit its practitioners and their customers. Just because you live in the city doesn’t mean you can’t take steps toward self-sufficiency and energy conservation. Participating in this trend is a great place to start.
Start making your home a haven of self-sufficiency. You don’t have to make these changes all at once—it would be very overwhelming. Instead, start with the basics:
- Visit or buy from a farmers market to get ideas.
- Grow one or two vegetables that thrive in your area. If you don’t have space for a full-blown garden, try your hand at container gardening.
- Consider raising a couple chickens or a colony of bees. Community farm and garden spaces are increasing in popularity.
- Conserve water and energy by using energy efficient lightbulbs, carpooling, and running the dryer fewer times per week.
The bottom line is that every step counts. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll become a master urban homesteader!