Last week we talked about all the ways that you can become a homesteader in your apartment. I loved reading the comments and hearing from those of you who have already started implementing so many of these ideas in your own apartment home.
Next stop in our journey of defining our fill-in-the-blank homesteads? The urban or suburban homesteader.
So what does the urban or suburban farmer look like? You may find yourself in the heart of the city (or suburbia) for any number of reasons, and you probably don’t see yourself pulling up and moving to the country any time soon. However, even though you may enjoy the benefits of city living, that homesteading spirit still burns deep inside of you.
The good news? You CAN have your cake and eat it too!
Of course, if you want to have your own suburban or urban farm, you can easily implement any of the ideas for the apartment homestead. But, having a little yard space gives you a few extra options, too.
7 Ideas for the Suburban (or Urban) Homestead:
1. Put in a Garden. Regardless of whether your yard space is big or small, it is almost always possible to find at least a little spot where you can plant some veggies. Choose heirloom varieties that aren’t available in your local stores (this year we grew Yukon Gold potatoes, since we usually only have access to Russets. It was a delicious change of pace!). Find out what varieties of vegetables thrive in shade and sun. With a little creativity, you should be able to maximize the harvest from any sized garden plot. And of course, like the apartment homesteader, you can always use containers and pots to grow a variety of edibles.
2. Compost. If you’ve read the story of my journey into homesteading and natural living, then you know that it all began with a compost pile! Turn your coffee grounds, egg shells, and kitchen scraps into valuable (and frugal) food for your urban farm garden. The sky is the limit when it comes to composting set-ups. Build your own bins, use re-purposed materials (trash cans, plastic storage totes, etc) or purchase ready-made composting buckets or tumblers. Use your rich compost to amend your garden plot, raised beds, or containers.
3. Become a Bee Keeper. While this may seem like a stretch for some folks, more and more people are becoming backyard beekeepers. My cousin Karla keeps a thriving hive in her very suburban backyard, which provides her family with delicious local, raw honey. And if you have children or grandchildren, just think of all the science experiments and hands-on learning that a backyard hive could provide.
4. Landscape with Edibles. Water is a precious commodity in the part of Wyoming where we live. Even though we have our own well and no water restrictions, I just can’t bring myself to pour water on a lawn (or even flowers…) that only live a few months and give us nothing to eat in return. It feels like such a waste. So, when I have an empty flower bed, I resist the urge to buy expensive annuals, and instead try to plant edibles in their place. This year, my “flower” beds around the house held sunflowers, tomatoes, basil, lettuce, and spinach. It’s still green, it’s still beautiful (to me anyway), and I feel better when I water it, knowing that it will help contribute to my family’s food needs. I’m not necessarily recommending that you rip out your entire yard overnight, but next time you head to the garden store, consider choosing fruit trees/bushes, herbs, or vegetables instead of annual flowers that will be dead in a short time.
5. Consider Chickens. More and more cities and towns across the U.S. are allowing their residents take part in urban agriculture by keeping backyard chickens. If it is allowed by your homeowner’s association, I highly recommend considering a small flock of your own. From eggs and meat, to extra fertilizer and sheer entertainment, there are many reasons to become a chicken farmer in your own backyard!
6. Transform your Kitchen into a Homesteader’s Kitchen. No matter what type of homesteading you do, food production and preservation is a HUGE part of it. Get busy learning how to make your own breads and cheeses. Learn how to can and preserve the fresh produce you find at your farmer’s market. If you have room in your basement or garage, consider purchasing an upright or chest freezer to hold frozen fruits/veggies, make-aheads like pie fillings, homemade broth, and beans, frozen eggs from your backyard chickens, and grassfed poultry, beef, pork, or wild game (buying in bulk is usually a more frugal option).
7. Keep Worms. Compost worms are a wonderful way to put your kitchen scraps to good use, AND gain some new creepy crawly friends. Here’s a helpful post that highlights everything you need to know about feeding your new wormy buddies.
A successful homesteader know how to make do with what they have and think outside of the box.
Some of you may think I “have it made” on our homestead. Sixty-Seven acres, no covenants, no restrictions… perfect, right?
Not really. There are plenty of things that I would like to change on our homestead. There are many things that are less-than-ideal. But, I work hard at being creative and thinking of ways to make the best out of what we have. That is the mindset of the old-time homesteaders that made them legendary even today.
So. I wanna know. How many of you are urban or suburban homesteaders/farmers? How have you found creative solutions to your obstacles?
Next up: The rural or semi-rural homestead
More ‘How to Homestead’ posts:
- Fill in the Blank Homesteading
- How to be an Apartment Homesteader
- How to be a Semi-Rural Homesteader
- The Homestead Barn Hop
- Dear Homesteader Who Longs to Leave the City
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