One of my 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, and in more recent years so many different aspects of the homesteading lifestyle are being practiced everywhere (I couldn’t be more excited). An apartment, the middle of suburbia, a couple of acres on the outskirts of town; there are options for every type of living situation.
So, you have decided to question society, become more independent and call yourself a homesteader, but what does homesteading in an apartment, a tiny backyard, or on one or two rural acres actually look like? To help answer this and truly bring your unique homestead to life, I have created a mini-series highlighting different options.
What is an Apartment Homesteader?
Being an apartment homesteader means, you are as “city” as it gets. You are most likely 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 or access to a rooftop for a bit of fresh air. It is ok if you don’t, there are still many different options and ways to become an apartment homesteader!
10 Ideas to Become an 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. Don’t be afraid to get creative and think outside the box.
2. Turn a Balcony 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.
For supplies and seeds to get you started I highly recommend True Leaf Market. They are a great resource for any garden. They even have their seeds marked as container choices to let you know what will work for your apartment garden.
3. Make Your own Cleaning Supplies
4. An Apartment Homesteader Can 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 monthly or yearly fees 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 Farmer’s Markets
Visit Local Farms:
Finding local farms can be a great way to steady sources for farm-fresh eggs, raw milk (if it is legal in your state. If not, check out your cow-share laws), and maybe extra produce. You can even offer to volunteer to learn about different operations on that farm and don’t forget to enjoy getting dirty.
Visit Local Farmer’s Markets:
Local farmer’s markets can be a great resource for farm fresh products. You can usually find eggs, local meat, produce, honey, and maple syrup. A farmer’s market is also a great place to get to know local farmers and like-minded community members.
7. Learn to Preserve Food as An Apartment Homesteader
There are many different ways to preserve the fresh food you have acquired. A few of my favorite methods include freezing, canning, and dehydrating.
Dehydrating fruits (like bananas) and vegetables (tomato paste) is a great preservation option for those that have limited storage space. When you use the dehydration method you are removing the moisture content causing it to dry out and shrink. You can store the dried-out results as is in an air-tight container or they can be ground into a powder.
Freezing is probably the method that takes the least amount of time. It is a great no-hassle way to preserve vegetables and fruits that you may have found at Farmer’s Markets, CSA, or U-Pick farms. Freezing can be a great option for things like green beans, tomatoes, and strawberry freezer jam.
One of the main downsides to using freezing as your main method of food preservation is the lack of space. Freezer space is a limited resource and I usually save the space for meat. Being an apartment homesteader this may be something to take into consideration.
Learn how to can and fill your pantry with homemade pickles, applesauce, jams, tomato sauce, and more. Canning can seem a bit intimidating at first, but the results are well worth the effort. However, there are some strict safety rules that should be followed because canning safety is no joke!
If you are interested in learning how to can safely and efficiently there are a number of resources available here on The Prarie Homestead Blog.
Start with these helpful articles and tutorials:
- The Ultimate Guide to Canning Safety
- How to Can with a Water Bath Canner
- How to Use a Pressure Canner
If you are ready to learn more about using the canning method to preserve your food then my Canning Made Easy Course is right for you.
->The Canning Made Easy Course contains step-by-step walk-throughs, canning safety information, and some of my favorite canning recipes. This course was created to make preserving easy and give everyone the chance to learn this valuable kitchen skill. To learn more about Canning Made Easy Click Here <-
8. Learn to Cook From Scratch
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.
Here are some helpful articles and recipes to get you started:
- How to Cook from Scratch When You Have Limited Time
- How to Make Your Own Sourdough Starter
- Slow Cooker Beef Roast with Sweet & Salty Sauce
- The Best Beginner Sourdough Bread Recipe
9. Become a DIY-Genius
You don’t have to be a landowner to become a whiz at making your own candles, creating new soap recipes (dish soap), or formulating non-toxic bug repellents. Honestly, learning how to be a DIY-er has been one of my favorite parts of my homesteading lifestyle–and it hasn’t required a single bit of acreage. 😉
10. Learn to Repurpose What You Have
Old-time homesteaders were brilliant when it came to repurposing common, everyday items–and you can do the same. Repurposing is also a great way to live more sustainably and contribute to a no-waste lifestyle of homesteading. Find creative ways to put common cast-offs like coffee grounds, eggshells, or sour milk to good use.
Can You Be an Apartment Homesteader?
All of these ideas have something in common, they are true homesteading lifestyle changes that will take work and motivation. You will have to be willing to break the mold of the everyday-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. Remember, taking even the smallest steps to change your lifestyle can equal better health, a newfound passion for life, new learning opportunities, and fun. Lots of fun!
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?
Listen to the Old Fashioned On Purpose podcast episode #47 on the topic: How to Homestead in Suburbia HERE.
More Homesteading Ideas:
- Tips for Building a Debt-Free Homestead
- How to Make Herbal Vinegar
- How to Preserve Fresh Herbs in Olive Oil
- My Favorite Ways to Preserve Food at Home