Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What Homesteading Means to Me

(scwollcot - Photobucket)

Some might find it laughable that I associate myself with the homesteading movement. That's okay. I find it laughable too sometimes.  I mean really, what does this suburban woman know about roughing it on a farm or ranch? And am I really categorizing myself with people who milk goats and herd cattle while I sip rice milk to the din of my neighbor's mower?

Not exactly.

As rural-agrarian culture gave way to endless strips of shimmering suburbia the definition of homesteading broadened. Sure, there are still those old-time, self-sufficient homesteading Gods whose lifestyle has us wannabes panting in awe. They have acreage. And livestock. And OMG actual crops like wheat and barley. They churn butter and make soap. They are homesteaders with a capital H. Attempting to shamelessly co-opt emulate their lifestyle are we Suburban and Urban Homesteaders.

Suburban and Urban Homesteading get back to the land in ways practical for city dwellers. We grow food in backyards and on porches. We participate in community garden programs that share the labor and its fruits. And boy do we love our local farmers!

Reasons for becoming a Suburban or Urban Homesteader are as unique as the people themselves. For some it is a green lifestyle. Others just want to find their way back to the land somehow. Some are in it to save money. And still others are motivated by self-sufficiency, believing we've become too dependent on multi-national corporations for our every need. For some of us it is all of the above.

I am a Suburban Homesteader. I do not own a farm or a ranch. It is not practical for us to move out to the country because we rely on the city's special education infrastructure, so Louisville Metro and its surrounding counties are my homestead. My goal is to obtain 70% of my family's food from either my backyard or local farmers. This is cheaper, less polluting, and helps the local economy. And for those who wonder why I'm slacking on the other 30%, there are no amber waves of gluten free grains surrounding Louisville. Oh, and the chocolate. Come on people!

Sometimes I think it might be nice to have acreage out in Wendell Berry country but truth is I don't want to do every last thing myself. I still have a family to take care of and a part-time job. Besides I can't even drink milk or eat wheat.

Since I have no desire to make soap I'm lucky Amazing Green Planet sells regionally made products. And why should I piss off my neighbors with chickens when Ralph the free range egg guy supplies the farmer's market. And And AND with Annette, my local farmer, selling year round there's no need to buy much imported produce. Yep, my homestead is the perfect size indeed.

What does homesteading mean to you?


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Tags: Urban Homesteading, Urban Homestead, Homesteaders


  1. One of the things I find interesting is how the homesteading movement includes both rural country folk who have been at it for ages and leftwing suburbanites like me who got into it through the green angle. :-) I'm still not sure I would call myself a homesteader, but in the process of growing an eco-conscience, I've also undertaken tasks associated with homesteading: baking bread, line drying clothes, canning (kind of -- still at the freezer jam stage), making my own lotions and personal products, etc. A little to my surprise -- because I've never wanted to be a farm wife, house wife, or any sort of wife at all -- I really enjoy these slow, meditative processes and am increasingly attracted to simplicity and independence from corporations. I go to a store like Target now, and there's very little that I need or want, and almost nothing that I couldn't make myself if I wanted to. It's a good feeling!

  2. That is very well said. I can relate. I grew up on 10 acres but I didn't appreciate it at the time. All I wanted was to live in a development around others. I came at this from the green angle as an adult. Additionally, I have a hard time buying from mainstream stores because I hate not knowing if my purchases support sweatshops. I try to be very careful about that. I have a post coming up about my son's new Fair Trade, Eco-Friendly school sneakers.

  3. Seeing as how I'm ignorant on the subject, I can't answer what homesteading means to me in any sensible way. But that's why I'm looking forward to reading your blog and finding out your experiences with it. All that you've shared so far makes perfect sense to me and makes me want to learn more.

  4. Thanks Jeff. :) I'm exploring and learning more myself. Tonight I am going to an environmental film festival here in Louisville.


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