Urban homesteading is about embracing the simple living of our past generations, but doing it whilst living in the modern urban world.
It is a term that refers to people who have consciously chosen to lead a simple living lifestyle that incorporates gardening or even small-scale agriculture, with home food production, preservation and storage, into urban or city living.
The majority of us do not have the benefit of living on a dreamy rustic farm on some outback prairie, but there is nothing to stop us from adopting some of the habits of our forefathers and applying them our modern lives.
I like to think of myself as a ‘partial’ urban homesteader. I came to that conclusion whilst sipping from a glass of my well-earned home made wild plum wine, after having just ground 3 pounds of wheat flour using a hand-cranked grain mill!
Back in the days of old, homesteading was a matter of survival. It was a simple equation; our ancestors needed to grow food and raise cows, pigs and chickens, or they starved. Then they had to find ways to preserve their crop to enable it to see them through the winter. The living was very simple compared by today’s standards.
Many today will argue that life was also harsher, with no real healthcare and shorter life spans. There are others in today’s society that look upon those simpler times with a certain longing and romanticism – I have to admit, I’m one of them!
Like me, there are many living in the cities and urban sprawl who would give anything for an opportunity to give it all up and live the simpler life. A few of the lucky ones succeed and go all-out to embrace the rural homesteading lifestyle.
For the rest of us, that’s where Urban Homesteading comes into the picture. I guess it’s like the middle-ground, where you take something from both worlds and put them together.
There are some who have taken this kind of homesteading to the extreme, virtually creating inner-city farms that are 100% self sustaining. At the other end of the spectrum, we have the apartment dwellers that grow their own tomatoes and vegetables on their balconies. I’d like to think of myself as somewhere in between.
As a ‘partial’ urban homesteader, I’m trying to bring as much of the ‘homesteading’ world into my urban-dwelling world as is practical, but there are obvious restrictions on what I can do.
Living on a UK housing estate, with very close neighbors for example, I am not permitted to keep farm animals (I would love to keep some chickens!), and my 14ft x 13ft patio garden places a limit on how much food I can grow. However, I do have my name down for an allotment, so hopefully soon; it will be part of my food-growing plans.
My other ‘homesteading’ activities include; going to the nearby countryside to collect wild produce such as nettles, fruits, berries, flowers and nuts in order to supplement my food supply. I grow my own food, as I have mentioned. I grind my own wheat and make my own bread. I have built drying racks and will be drying the foods I grow to sustain me through the winter. I make my own jams, wines and tea, and run a compost bin. I am looking into ways of reducing my dependence on electricity and gas, and in an ideal world would love to eventually get off-grid altogether.
Currently, the idea of urban homesteading is beginning to gain in popularity and gather momentum as more and more people start to realize the positive benefits it brings.
On top of that, there is an increase in people starting to wake up to the current state of the world both ecologically and politically, and many are slowly cottoning-on to the idea that there may be food shortages in the not too distant future. Throw in the added benefits of saving money, healthier living and getting closer to nature, and urban homesteading really comes into its own.