First, let me offer a definition of urban homesteading.
According to UC-Davis, "an urban homestead is a household that produces a significant part of the food, including produce and livestock, consumed by its residents. This is typically associated with residents’ desire to live in a more environmentally conscious manner."
Aspects of urban homesteading include:
Resource reduction: using solar/alternative energy sources, harvesting rainwater, using greywater, line drying clothes.
Raising animals, including chickens, goats, rabbits, fish, worms, and/or bees
Edible landscaping: growing fruit, vegetables, culinary and medicinal plants, converting lawns into gardens
Self-sufficient living: re-using, repairing, and recycling items; homemade products
Food preservation including canning, drying, freezing, cheese-making, and fermenting.
Community food-sourcing such as foraging, gleaning, and trading
Natural building, composting.
In a nutshell, urban homesteading is about being as self-reliant as possible for you, while maintaining the best environmental practices possible.
Who practices it?
Well, we do. There is no one demographic for homesteaders. We range from 20-something's in downtown Toronto and Los Angeles, to 50and 60 year-olds living in rural Manitoba and Montana.
Self-sufficiency for most homesteaders is an on-going journey, adding steps along the way to allow a family to provide for itself a little better each year.
For example, we added beehives to our homestead last year. This year we have decided to focus on raising as many chickens for meat as possible. We probably can't raise enough to feed our family throughout the year, but it's a step forward.
I guess that's what it's about. It's not a standard, set destination- it's a journey. A journey towards whatever you consider freedom from whatever bothers you about our globalized world. For the person in downtown Toronto, maybe it's growing as much of their own food as possible in a tiny, 10 foot X 10 foot garden. For someone in rural Manitoba, it might be something completly different. Maybe growing all your livestock in a sustainable way to feed your family.
Where are you on the journey? Be bold- take a step today. Plan a small garden, unplug your clothes dryer and install a clothesline, gather rainwater in rainbarrels to water your plants. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Take a step and call yourself a homesteader.
Part 2 coming soon....Chicken Boots, my "good" work gloves and other insanities on the homestead.