\If you live in a city and dream of someday being able to work the land and become a urban homesteader, consider this: There’s no need to wait — you can easily do many homesteading activities in the city. You may not have enough garden space to grow your own wheat or corn, but you can harvest an amazing amount of many crops from a collection of containers. Owning your own milk cow is likely not an option, but keeping backyard chickens or ducks certainly is. Plus, in the city, it can be much easier to build a community of like-minded neighbors who can share tools, knowledge and friendship. Here is a look at Urban Homesteading!
What is Urban Homesteading
Urban homesteading is the practice of using skills such as container gardening, sewing their own clothes, finding alternative sources of energy, and conserving water in an attempt to live a more self sufficient lifestyle!
There are many things the urban homesteader can do to be self-sufficient. We can learn a variety of different skills that will increase productivity of our farm and provide our families with a sustainable future.
Some skills to consider
One of the biggest complications for urban gardeners is finding space to grow food.
Community gardens provide a great opportunity for you to learn next to other committed gardeners on a small plot of land.
If you find yourself looking over the fence at your neighbor’s unkempt yard, you could offer to turn it into a productive garden and share the bounty.
Use vertical spaces (a sun-drenched, south-facing wall provides a great microclimate for beans and tomatoes planted in containers), flat rooftops, and abandoned lots. You could even de-pave a driveway. In some cities, the economic downturn has yielded an impressive array of undeveloped lots, many of which can be turned into abundant food-growing zones.
You can grow a lot of food in a small space. On a patio or parking lot that gets sun for about six hours per day but has no soil, you could plant a garden in raised beds, or in barrels or storage bins with drainage holes punched through the bottom.
You can grow many carrots, leeks or potatoes in 5-gallon buckets, and lettuce can spend its whole life in small pots. Columnar fruit trees will grow straight rather than branch out, and will thus easily fit into small spaces. If you only have shaded growing space, inoculate logs or straw to produce fresh mushrooms.
2. Raising Animals
Animals can turn a backyard garden into a mini-farm and provide nitrogen-rich fertilizer. Backyard chickens and rabbits are the most common animals on urban homesteads, and urban beekeepers are growing in number. Some adventurous city farmers are even branching out to goats and pigs.
Check with your local municipality to find out which animals are allowed in your area — for example, some places allow chickens but not roosters. Undertaking animal projects with others will spread the work and responsibility. Get only the number of animals that you can humanely care for, and think about what you’ll do when your chickens stop laying (because they will).
3. Preserving Food
Freezing, drying and canning — both with water bath and pressure canners — are proven methods of preserving bulk food, seasonal hauls from a local farmer, or your own harvests. If you glean fruits from nearby apple trees or score a large box of super-ripe tomatoes from a farmers market, you’ll want to know how to can apple butter and pasta sauce.
Before pasteurization and refrigeration, fermentation was a principal preservation method. Cheese and sauerkraut are just two creations that require fermentation
4. Use natural energy sources
Renters and owners alike can perform plenty of home energy fixes. Add thermal window shades or clear acrylic panels during winter. Caulk window frames and insulate heating ducts. Adjust your thermostat to be cooler in winter, warmer in summer. Switch to efficient light bulbs, which will pay for themselves in energy savings within a few years.
Use the energy of the sun whenever possible. Install a solar hot water system if you can; string a clothesline no matter what. Cooking a pot of soup or baking a loaf of bread in a solar oven uses no electricity at all. Build a solar heat grabber out of a simple box to pull passive solar heat into your home.
Compost is the divine alchemy of the garden — the trick of turning “garbage” into fertility. Build a simple compost bin for your backyard in an afternoon by hammering together three wooden pallets. Purchase a pre-made plastic compost bin with a lid if you struggle with vermin visitors or nervous neighbors. You can even simply drill drainage holes in the bottom of a large garbage can with a lid.
A worm bin is a small-scale composting container that can be maintained indoors to transform your smaller kitchen scraps into vermicompost — one of the best soil amendments.
7. Source what you cannot produce
Homegrown food is often a gateway to a more sustainable lifestyle, but if you live in a place where you really have no room to grow, you can still source healthy food. Farmers markets, community-supported agriculture (CSA) projects and local food co-ops are all great options. Cut out the middleman by joining or starting a bulk-food buying group to purchase staples directly from wholesalers. You can also benefit from unused fruit trees, or forage for wild edibles depending on what’s in season.
It doesn’t matter where you start on your journey into self-sufficiency, it matters that you get started!
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