One of my most favorite things about the modern homesteading movement is that it is flexible.
I use to think that the only way a person could ever be considered a farmer or rancher was to have thousands upon thousands of acres and make a full-time living off of their land.
But, definitions are changing…
In the past, I’ve talked about the idea of being a modern day homesteader, no matter where you may live. An apartment, the middle of suburbia, or a couple acres on the outskirts of town. The sky is the limit these days.
So, you’ve decided to call yourself a homesteader, you’ve named your fill-in-the-blank homestead, but now what?
What does homesteading actually look like in an apartment? A tiny backyard? On one or two rural acres?
For the next several weeks, I will be running a mini-series highlighting ways that YOU truly can bring your unique homestead to life.
First up- the apartment homesteader. You are as “city” as it gets. You may be in the very heart of the urban jungle with asphalt as far as the eye can see. If you are lucky, you might have a balcony. If not, you still have lots of ways to become a homesteader!
10 Ideas for the Apartment Homesteader
1. Go crazy with window gardens! You can grow many, many herbs successfully in pots. I have very few sunny windows in my little house, so I had to get creative this spring, but it worked. Think outside the box.
2. If you have a balcony, turn it into a jungle of edibles. I love it when I’m driving through town and see an apartment balcony packed with hanging pots and container gardens. Plus, I can imagine that it provides a “back to nature” feel when you want to sit outside. Or, hydroponics is another exciting option for the apartment dweller.
3. Make your own cleaning supplies. A quick Google search will yield every sort of cleaning recipe you can imagine! Check out my recipes for homemade laundry soap, carpet cleaner, laundry spot remover, and all-purpose orange cleaner.
4. Forget the clothes dryer. This is a definite money saving option, especially if you are having to go to the laundromat. If your apartment regulations allow, install a simple clothesline on your balcony. If not, use a drying rack to air dry those clothes inside.
5. Take part in a Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA). Pay a monthly or yearly free and have boxes of fresh, local fruits and veggies on a regular basis. Some CSA’s even have a work option where you can go get some dirt under your fingernails to help pay for your produce. More info on CSAs and where to find one in your area can be found here.
6. Visit local farms and meet the farmers. In the process, you may even find sources for farm-fresh eggs and raw milk (if it is legal in your state. If not, check out your cow-share laws). Offer to volunteer and enjoy getting dirty.
7. Learn how to preserve food. Fill your freezer with extra veggies and fruit that you may have found at Farmer’s Markets, CSA, or U-Pick farms. Or, learn how to can and fill your pantry with homemade pickles, applesauce, jams, tomato sauce, and more. Here is my water bath canning tutorial and here’s my pressure canning tutorial.
8. Teach yourself to cook. Ditch the convenience food favorites of many city dwellers and break the mold. Learn how to create homemade breads, get creative with new veggies, and discover how to cook meat to perfection. If you have access to quality milk, learn how to make your own yogurt and cheeses- two time-honored homestead crafts.
9. Become a DIY-Genius. You don’t have to be a landowner to become a whiz at making your own candles, or creating new soap recipes, or formulating non-toxic bug repellents. Honestly, learning how to be a DIY-er has been one of my most-favorite parts of my homesteading lifestyle–and it hasn’t required a single bit of acreage.
10. Repurpose like crazy. Old-time homesteaders were brilliant when it came to repurposing common, everyday items–and you can do the same. Find creative ways to put common cast-offs like coffee grounds, eggshells, or sour milk to good use.
The one thing all of these ideas have in common? They take work. And motivation. You’ll have to be willing to break the mold of the every-day-average-city dweller: Get up, go to work, eat out, come home, watch TV, go to bed, repeat…
Homesteading takes determination, drive, and a little bit of craziness, regardless of whether you are in an apartment or 200 acres.
But, taking small steps to change your lifestyle can equal better health, a new found passion for life, new learning opportunities, and fun. Lots of fun.
And just think, someday if or when you finally move to the country and find that homestead of your dreams, you’ll have the cheesemaking and herb gardening mastered..
Are you an apartment homesteader? What tips do you have for bringing homesteading alive in the urban jungle?
Other posts in this series:
- How to be a Urban or Suburban Homesteader
- How to be a Semi-Rural Homesteader
- Fill in the Blank Homesteading