Urban Homesteading
Pioneering A Journey Towards Self-Sufficiency

Definition - Urban Homesteading 
Transforming a city or suburban home into a property that produces some or all of its residents own food and other subsistence needs. Such as gardening, raising poultry or small livestock, producing simple products minimizing consumer purchases, and seeking ways to increase self-sufficiency reducing the homes environmental impact in a city or suburban environment.

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Reasons for Urban Homesteading
In recent years people have started becoming more worried about the human race's impact on the environment along with personal survival. Becoming self sufficient and less dependant on outside resources. Gaining back some control of what they eat and drink.

The approach to urban homesteading depends on what people are looking to gain from it.  Urban Homesteaders can now grow large amounts of organic vegetables in small areas for one-tenth of the price. Local urban families are now raising backyard chicken hens for organic eggs and meat. Gardenders are pickeling and canning for winter food storage. 

Enjoying organic freedom and saving money in the process all while living in inner-city and urban areas all over the world.  Eating home grown, healthier, cheaper food saves you money but also lowers your impact on the planet.

Urban Homesteading has a wonderful community element to it. The "New York Times" found that urban homesteading events attract people from far and wide, all walks of life, everything from pickeling, making jam and pumpkin-processing to pig-butchering, sausage-making and home-made wine production - all raised and grown on people's own ground in their own cities.

The biggest thing is knowing how your food is grown. Knowing your eggs are organic because you personally buy and feed your chickens organic food. There are many thing we are not in control of. Urban Homesteading enables you to gain back some of that control.

Path To Freedom - Urban Homesteading

Our Food System is Set Up to Fail 
By Jillian Michaels

Here’s a statistic for you: One dollar will buy you 1,200 calories of processed garbage that will likely make you fat or sick, or both. Conversely, that same buck will only nab you 250 calories of healthy food (fruits, vegetables, organic meat, whole grains) that can help maintain a healthy body weight and prevent disease.

Here’s another stat for you: In the 1960s we spent 18 percent of our annual income on food. Today we spend 9 percent. But before you get too excited… In the 1960s we spent 5 percent of our annual income on health care. Today, we spend 17 percent. Yay? I think not.  I don’t know about you, but I would much rather spend that income on broccoli and chicken than on chemo treatments, Lipitor, or gastric bypass surgery.

As a result of these statistics, obesity and disease in America have run rampant.  Two in three adults and one in three children are overweight.  Diabetes, heart disease, and cancer rates have skyrocketed over the last 30 years.  Our children are predicted to have a lesser life expectancy than their parents, for the first time in human history.

Why would our government set us up for failure in this way? Simple. Because the special-interest groups who stand to gain from this policy, such as Monsanto, Liberty, and so forth, lobby our representatives in Washington and make generous contributions to their election campaigns. You see, companies like Monsanto own the patents on these GMO seeds. In addition, they sell the pesticides and synthetic fertilizers the seeds require to thrive. Without the Farm Bill, these guys would be in big trouble.

So what do we do, and how do we get out of this mess?  The solution is multifaceted.  First, grassroots, community-driven efforts are critical in fighting federal policy to transform the American diet. Make efforts to support your local farmers. Join a CSA. Grow your own. Reallocate your funds so that you stop wasting money on bottled water and toxic cleaning or beauty products, and put it into organics whenever possible.

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Modern homesteading is a great way to save some of your hard-earned cash. That is if you are not afraid of a little hard work and waking before the rooster. The fast-paced convenient world of today can and will lead you down the path to debt. Four years ago I found myself in a terrible situation: How does one go about feeding a family of four on one hundred dollars for two weeks? Did we have enough money to buy gasoline just to get to work? It was scary not knowing where my family was going. Yet when I planted my first tomato, a thought sprouted in my mind.

My first homesteading goals were just to preserve my garden for the winter, insuring that there was always something to eat. But as my garden grew, so did my ideas.

There are initial costs when it comes to living a self-sufficient life. But all of the things that must be purchased will pay for themselves — the time that takes depends on how you manage them. We purchase our items slowly. Big items come with our tax returns, and only after any outstanding bills are paid. Smaller items are bought on an individual basis, depending what we can afford at the time, usually when we are out buying feed for our livestock. Because of the way we have built our homestead piece-by-piece, and the manner in which we have preserved our foodstuffs, we have money left unspent. Four years ago we would have never have believed this possible.

Homesteading isn’t something that can be done only in rural areas; even urban dwellers can benefit from simple self-sufficient activities:

Buy food stuff in bulk or on sale and preserve them by canning, freezing or drying. Purchase a layer (standard-size chicken or bantam) for eggs and/or meat. Many cities allow you to have a chicken or two. Container garden and create a neighborhood co-op, bartering different vegetables with one another.

Some of our start-up costs have been purchasing chickens, seeds, canning jars and equipment. My hot water bath and pressure canner came from someone that was no longer using them. The best advice I can give when it comes to your planning stage, is to talk openly about what you are wanting to do. You might be surprised on what some people have stashed in their attic and are willing to give freely. Check your local paper, rural estate sales, garage sales and even try placing an ad in a free, or cheaply-priced paper for your wants/needs.

Once your chickens and seeds are purchased, your only costs will be feed and water (if you are not on a well). Seed saving will insure your next year’s garden. Allowing your hens to hatch eggs will replenish your stock. Be creative when it comes to reusing materials. We use our un-repairable refrigerator to store our feed, a broken fan stand for a sprinkler stand, and cracked hoses for deep soak waters. Save your glass jars to store dried goods in, and milk cartons to start seedlings. Just remember: it’s not white trash, it’s imaginative, frugal and eco-friendly.

My family might be an extreme when it comes to simple living. We are building a new home, a green shelter. Using only locally produced and recycled construction materials and building it ourselves will save us more than half the cost of paying someone else to build it. With a fire place, underground water cooling systems (air-conditioning) and going solar powered, our out of pocket expenses will drop dramatically.

Some other things to reduce expenses are: Making your own pasta, juices, vinegars, wine and dyes. Making your own yogurt and cheeses

These things do take time and dedication, but just the act of making your own dinners from scratch will save you money. Using flour, eggs, and water to manufacture your own noodles will cost you less than buying the same amount in the pre-made versions. This can be said about most things that you can create from scratch, the base components while at first seem more expensive, are cheaper when compared to their convenient counterparts.

While homesteading can seem daunting at times, it will save you money as well as bring your family closer together. At home, self induced family entertainment, is another benefit of living simply. It also comes with free educational experiences that are rarely taught in a public school system. Check in with your local extension office for free or inexpensive classes for you and your children. Take a drive in the country and look for hand made signs boasting of wares for sale, they can lead you to a wealth of knowledge and new friendships.

Modern homesteading is not for everyone. Yet taking a few of these suggestions and applying them to your own life will make a significant difference on the way you view the world, and the impact on your wallet.

Ohio Edible Landscapes