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Home » Featured, The Homestead Life

How To Homestead Wherever You Are… Today!

Submitted by on October 18, 2012 – 6:11 pm 46 Comments
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If this post inspires you to want to homestead, please consider sharing and help get the word out! Thanks so much for your support!

How To Homestead Wherever You Are!

 The Dervaes Family’s Urban Homestead

I think a lot of people have common misconceptions about what the term ‘homesteading’ means. Many assume that you have to live on a chunk of country land with several farm animals and a large garden to be considered a homesteader. But the Urban Homesteading movement is on the rise, giving a new meaning to the term ‘homesteading’ and new freedoms to city dwellers who thought they’d never have a chance to live more self-sufficiently where they are.

There are common characteristics between all homesteaders, no matter where they live. We all have a strong desire to eat home-grown, nutritious food; REAL food, enjoyed the way God intended. We enjoy gardening, whether it’s on a large plot of land or in containers on our back patio; wherever we are we’re growing something. We long for simpler living, and days gone by when people used to enjoy real company and conversations instead of being glued to electronic gadgets 24-7.

We want to learn how to live without depending on others to take care of us, in every way possible. We strive toward debt free living, and spend modestly and purposefully. We tend to shy away from man-made pharmaceuticals, and are excited to learn new ways of treating ourselves naturally. We love organic products and learning how to make them, especially homemade soap and other toiletries, cosmetics, and household cleaners. Learning how to harness alternative energy appeals to us. Whether that means we install a solar panel system to fully live off grid, or if it’s as simple as building a solar dehydrator, using free energy is a goal we all share. And we center our daily lives around our family (and in most cases, around our Creator).

There are so many things you can do to homestead wherever you are. If you’d like to join the movement, consider making several of these lifestyle changes, and adding more notches to your belt over time.

How To Homestead Wherever You Are

  • Learn to grow your own food and herbs. Start small, with just a couple of plants, and build your garden slowly. Make the most of the space you have available to you.
  • Learn how to bake bread from scratch. Get a second-hand bread machine to help you get an easy start.
  • Consider purchasing a wheat grinder and grinding your own wheat.
  • Learn how to make homemade soap. Once you’ve got that mastered, maybe you can learn how to make lye from ashes!
  • Learn how to cook without electricity. Get yourself some good cast iron pans and a dutch oven while you’re at it.
  • Practice using herbal and natural remedies to treat your family’s ailments.
  • Get a water bath canner and start canning by learning how to make jellies. Then learn how to can other things. Work your way up to using a pressure canner for canning your own meat and meals-in-a-jar.
  • Practice drying/ dehydrating foods to preserve them.
  • Plant a few fruit trees and berry bushes in your yard, if you are able.
  • Learn how to milk a cow or a goat. Even if you don’t have room to own an animal where you live, there are small farms out there who are willing to “share” an animal with city dwellers.
  • Get backyard chickens and start eating your own fresh eggs. From there learn how to butcher your own meat.
  • Learn animal husbandry, even if you only have room for a couple of rabbits.
  • Consider learning how to keep bees and harvesting your own honey.
  • Put up a clothesline and hang dry your clothes.
  • Learn how to make your own household cleaners. There are tons of recipes online to help you get started.
  • Determine to cook from scratch instead of eating expensive processed foods.
  • Learn how to make candles.
  • Learn how to sew. Start with hemming pants, and work your way to sewing your own skirts.
  • Learn to barter. Trade goods or skills for the things you need.
  • Learn to be content with less, to do without, and to make the most of what you have.
  • Become familiar with the wild edible plants that grow in your area. Learn how to identify them, and practice using them in your meals.
  • Consider what you can make or grow yourself and sell your goods at a local farmer’s market.
  • Practice composting your leftover fruit and veggie scraps and law cuttings instead of throwing them into the garbage.
  • Build your home library with books on gardening, herbal remedies, animal husbandry, preserving food, soapmaking, and anything homesteading and self-sufficient living related. The Encyclopedia of Country Living is hands-down the best homesteading book available.
  • Install rain barrels to catch water for your garden or for emergency drinking water.
  • Practice living without electricity. Have a non-electric backup plan to get you through your daily necessities.
  • Use alternative energy, like solar, wind, and hydro power.
  • Learn how to hunt and fish. Go to a hunt club if you don’t have land to hunt on.
  • And my final words of advice… get rid of your t.v. You can’t imagine how much more productive your days and your minds will be without the trash we are fed through that thing.

So, whadya think? Are you ready to call yourself a homesteader now that you know a little more about how to homestead? Which of these things are you already doing, and which can you work toward where you are right now?

And what other things can we add to this list? How are you homesteading today?

Next up… Homesteading When You’re Flat Broke!

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46 Comments »

  • Lori says:

    I retired 4/2014 and moved from Arizona to Macon, Ga 10/2014. I have a house with 1/4 acre. I planted my own garden, make my own bread, soups, sauces, stews, etc and can them. I planted 2 cherry trees, and 2 apple trees. Will be adding chickens in the spring of 2016. I am a Urban homesteader. In the spring will more than triple my garden so I can sell some of the produce and eggs. At 69 years old, I am becoming self sufficent on my own homestead within a city setting.

    • NewGuy says:

      Hi Lori,

      My brother lives in Macon and has a few chickens and likes to tinker with aquaponics set-ups, I imagine you two could help each other out. Let me know if you’d like for me to put you in touch and I’ll post a dummy email link.

  • antwon says:

    Just stumbled upon your blog. Very nice and useful information. I’ve been interested in self-sufficient living/homesteading for many years. I have not yet gotten myself into position (financially) to buy some land and get started buy I am paying attention to different sources of information for when I am ready. The ironic thing is, ‘it takes money to live simply’. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

  • Crystal says:

    Aside from candles and crafts like that, here is another idea. Go to walmart or target and look at the prices of things like paper towel holders and towel drying racks stuff to that nature… they are so expensive! $30 or more to hang a hand towel from the bathroom wall!

    Instead, we went into the woods and harvested some old dead rhododendron branches… hack sawed them into pieces, sanded them (leaving some of their bark), gave them a few coats of polyurethane, drilled a hole in one end and twisted a thin long bolt into it… voila! A towel rack.

    I made five in a total of an hour sanding and all. Thought about selling them for $5 each. Why not save other people a ton of money and make little myself to fund some projects, right?

    … $30 for a towel rack OR and hour of work with about $1 for the poly and bolts… and they are way more beautiful.

  • Katie says:

    What wonderful information you are distributing! I live in NZ where we are just finishing summer. After being widowed 9 years ago, it was time for a total lifestyle change. I have always wanted to ‘homestead’ in the way it is seen today. (I’m probably a wee bit older than most of your readers!) After getting through the initial shock of the loss of my husband, I decided to return to the small community where we had started our lives in New Zealand, Picton. The property sits on a hillside at the edge of the town on the South Island. Here it is common for home sites to be 1/4 acre. This little place is 1/3 acre but 90% is sloping hillside. First thing I did was cut down two small trees in the front yard and plant almond trees. Near the bottom of the property I took out two bay trees and put in a triple-graft apple tree. The other fruit trees, berries, raised beds and even hens just seemed to happen over the years. Recently I have teamed up with a gentleman from Scotland who shares the same interests in growing our own food, making do with less and being more self reliant. You have hit the nail on the head when you say a person can become a homesteader anywhere. And, I might add, at any age!
    You are blessing to many. Thank you for sharing your wisdom

    • Kendra says:

      Hi Katie! Thank you so much for sharing your story. What an inspiration. I would LOVE to visit New Zealand one day. It looks like such a beautiful place to live. Blessings as you continue your journey. I’m glad to hear you’ve found a friend to team up with. It can be difficult to do it alone.

    • Theresa Williamson says:

      It is a shame you took out the bay tree. Somebody told me how to place leaves in the pantry to keep bugs at “bay” haha

  • Therese Bizabishaka says:

    So true. Aspire to much but start with the little you have I live in urban Australia but have a real heart to homestead. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve stepped out and accomplished a lot of firsts like planting a garden and harvesting our first lettuce, making kombucha, sewing curtains, making bone broth, home made of food and cordial as well as my own laundry detergent. Next I want to make soap and set up my own compost. I still would love to have a few acres with chickens but it’s amazing what you can do with what you have.

  • Brenda says:

    Love the ideas. I was from a family of 6 kids and when we argued between ourselves mum and dad would mark out some ground and challenge us to see who could dig the best plot of corse we all did to some degree next argument came the next challenge who could grow the best veggies . We were so excited about what we were doing and we forgot about the arguments and started planing what we could do next . Winter time any jumpers or sweaters that couldn’t be handed down mum would unpick and re knit any wool that was left over was made into punch rugs made with a punch needle and hessian bag and the really scraggy bits were tied together and wound into balls and on rainy days to stop the fights the challenge was to see who could make the longest cord on a cotton real with 4nails in it and when we had finished mum would sew it together and make a hearth rug for in front of the wood burner fire. We never saw it as work or as a punishment I guess my mum and dad were clever in that way. That never gave us pocket money to spend on rubbish . They would say you are doing it for the love of your mother or father. They would say if you can’t make it or do it yourself you don’t need it nor want it. And I am so thankful to them for that as over the years I have learnt many skills and saved heaps I have never gone without and always have had plenty to share. Been a single mum most of the time of three . And share often with the homeless.and others And there is always more to give. Wish all a happy harvest for what ever you may sow.

  • Hilary says:

    Love this list. We recently started to work on more “homesteading” goals. I love my garden (which was a little bit of a surprise). I am on my third year of canning. The next goal is either homemade soap or chickens… we will see which comes first.

  • jo n says:

    Great article. Gives me ideas – I will be looking for the “how to’s”. Where to begin investigating?

  • Paula says:

    I am happy to say I can check a few on this list. I would love to keep adding over the next few years.

  • FBrindle says:

    Thanks Kendra,

    I am a 33 year old mother of six children.My husband and I live in the city of Philadelphia and own our home with a small plot of land (front yard).I would love to grow my own vegetables, but don’t know where or how to start. Thank you so much for your blog. May the Lord continue to shine his face upon you and your family.

    Grace and Peace!

    • Susie says:

      Check out square inch gardening. I lived on top of a mountain with five acres and very little money. One problem was the fact that it was high desert with very poor soil so we sort of had to make our own from whatever we could find. The first garden was “tilled” with an old round shovel and I broke up the dirt with my bare hands. The garden had to be small! Using this method you can get a higher yield than from a large garden. Don’t worry about a vegetable garden in the front yard, either. Vegetables are beautiful. Check out the pictures online and consider seeds on Ebay. I mixed in all kinds of flowers with mine because I just couldn’t help myself. It gave me great joy, greater faith in God and in myself and lots and lots of food with always enough to share. You have nothing to lose…Try it! Best of luck!

  • Michelle Boshell says:

    Wonderful advice just bought my & my hubs first house can’t wait to start our own homesteading for us & our 4 beautiful kiddos these days y’all gotta save every penny y’all can to live my goal is to achieve ever thing on this list keep the awesome advice coming. God bless in loving Christ ….

  • GrandmaPatriot says:

    BTW, the Gervaes have denied they guilt in stopping others from using their trademark since day one. I have no respect for them whatsoever.

  • GrandmaPatriot says:

    These are the items on the list that I have done.
    ◾Learn to grow your own food and herbs. Start small, with just a couple of plants, and build your garden slowly. Make the most of the space you have available to you.
    ◾Learn how to bake bread from scratch. Get a second-hand bread machine to help you get an easy start.
    ◾Consider purchasing a wheat grinder and grinding your own wheat.
    ◾Learn how to make homemade soap. Once you’ve got that mastered, maybe you can learn how to make lye from ashes!
    ◾Learn how to cook without electricity. Get yourself some good cast iron pans and a dutch oven while you’re at it.
    ◾Practice using herbal and natural remedies to treat your family’s ailments.
    ◾Get a water bath canner and start canning by learning how to make jellies. Then learn how to can other things. Work your way up to using a pressure canner for canning your own meat and meals-in-a-jar.
    ◾Practice drying/ dehydrating foods to preserve them.
    ◾Plant a few fruit trees and berry bushes in your yard, if you are able.
    ◾Put up a clothesline and hang dry your clothes.
    ◾Learn how to make your own household cleaners. There are tons of recipes online to help you get started.
    ◾Determine to cook from scratch instead of eating expensive processed foods.
    ◾Learn how to make candles.
    ◾Learn how to sew. Start with hemming pants, and work your way to sewing your own skirts.
    ◾Learn to barter. Trade goods or skills for the things you need.
    ◾Learn to be content with less, to do without, and to make the most of what you have.
    ◾Become familiar with the wild edible plants that grow in your area. Learn how to identify them, and practice using them in your meals.
    ◾Consider what you can make or grow yourself and sell your goods at a local farmer’s market.
    ◾Practice composting your leftover fruit and veggie scraps and law cuttings instead of throwing them into the garbage.
    ◾Build your home library with books on gardening, herbal remedies, animal husbandry, preserving food, soapmaking, and anything homesteading and self-sufficient living related.
    ◾Install rain barrels to catch water for your garden or for emergency drinking water.
    ◾Practice living without electricity. Have a non-electric backup plan to get you through your daily necessities.
    ◾Use alternative energy, like solar, wind, and hydro power.
    trash we are fed through that thing.

    Basically, I have no animals or bees, because of city regulations. Otherwise, but I do all of this, and in addition I teach the skills to others. I also collect blankets (over 50), wrote articles for APN, including one on 29 ways to cook without electricity. I am considering a solar generator to support my electric three-wheeled bike. My solar oven was made from items at the dollar store, and I can bake in a cardboard box oven. I have a solar shower, with a curtain hung from a hula hoop. I am teaching my grandchildren how to do these things, with classes disguised as camping vacations. I love my life, hope they enjoy it as well !

  • Tami Lewis says:

    Great post!!! I am bookmarking this one!!

  • Ro says:

    Hi Kendra,
    I was very happy to come across your page. Yours is one of the best out here. I have always loved the simple life as well as being self-sufficient. I can’t imagine living any other way. Although due to economical and other setbacks I am not able to do as many things as I like, I try to continually incorporate as many homesteading practices as I can, although I must for the time being live in an apartment. It is a state of mind and not a physical state! Thank you for reminding all of us “Homesteaders at Heart” about that!

  • GrandmaPat says:

    I am glad you have had such good experiences, but these are NOT rumors. I have seen copies of the letters they have sent and read comments they have made online. I don’t trust them.

  • GrandmaPat says:

    Better not let the DerVaes family know you are using heir trademark term “urban homesteading”. They are VERY nasty about trademark violations and their attorneys are johnny-on-the-spot in sending threatening “cease and desist” letters. While they may have made a great homestead for themselves, I neither respect them nor admire them because they are selfish, conniving people. http://blogs.ocweekly.com/stickaforkinit/2011/02/pasadena_family_trademarks_the.php

    • GrandmaPat,

      I’ve actually spoken a number of times to the Dervaes family, and they’ve warned me of this false information going around about them. Personally, I don’t believe the rumors. I haven’t seen any evidence of these letters other than hearsay. I’ve found them to be a lovely family, and a pleasure to work with. 🙂

  • Noel McNeil says:

    Great list! Maybe I’ll write a list of my goals on my blog for 2013. Great Idea. 🙂

  • Ben says:

    I really like that you have written about how homesteading is a state of mind. I don’t think you have to own 10 acres to be a homesteader. There are a lot of ways to be more self-reliant.
    I made a similar list of things that I am planning to accomplish each month of 2013. Its going to be a great year!

  • Justine says:

    I have started doing a few things like gardening and canning. I’ve made my own laundry soap.. Which kicks butt on Gain..started baking more bread and other items because I refuse to pay $2.50 for a loaf of bread. I’m trying to get back to basics and keep the home base skills alive. Just a goal for the new year..

  • Kami says:

    I love this advice! This is something I could totally do if my husband were on board. We lost power for 5 days last summer, and even with 100+ temperatures, I was happy as a lark washing our clothes in my water bath canner on the back porch! 🙂 So far, I have a small garden, can what I’m able (even if it’s from local produce I don’t grow myself), make my own laundry detergent, cook from scratch with whole foods as much as absolutely possible, use natural remedies for several things, clean with homemade supplies and cancelled all television services although we still have a TV. It’s nice for when someone’s sick or we just want to sit as a family and watch a movie one afternoon or evening. I want my own chickens and apple trees so badly! We’ve been buying eggs locally from a woman my husband works with, but now that it’s colder her chickens aren’t producing enough. I love your site, Kendra, and am so glad you contacted me! Ohh… and I sell my own homemade goods. 🙂

  • Julie Grisham says:

    ok, created a google+ account, just deleted it recently! 🙂 and clicked

  • Christine says:

    I live in a suburb and I often wish we lived somewhere more suited to growing a garden. However, this gives me some ideas of ways to start small, and none of them seem too expensive (we are on a tight budget). I never thought seriously about making my own cleaners. And as for herbal/natural remedies for ailments, is there a free online resource I can trust? I’m a bit leery about it though it’s something I’m interested in.

    • Christine,

      I don’t know of one “go-to” source online. I do a lot of searches and read a lot of recommendations when trying new remedies. The good thing about going natural is that often there is no risk of any harm being done even if the remedy doesn’t work. Many of the things I try use honey, garlic, lavender, apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil, herbal teas… nothing dangerous 🙂

  • I started out by learning to bake bread and growing herbs on my apartment balcony. Now we have a little urban homestead and plans to do even more with it. I love the list; it gives me more ideas.

  • Dave says:

    Great post. The take-away for me is this…

    “There are so many things you can do to homestead wherever you are.”

    I get lost sometimes daydreaming about where I’d like to be with my family, and not focused on where I am. Where we are. When I should really be appreciating what we do have, and how lucky my family truly is. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Meg says:

    Oh my goodness…I have a post in my “drafts” that is this EXACT SAME TOPIC!

    Great minds…but your post is written much better than mine. 🙂

  • I live on a bigger plot of land that we consider a farm but I never really felt like a farmer. I like the term homesteader better as I’m interested and have done a lot of the stuff on your list above even when I used to live in a city with a smaller plot of land.

    Thanks for the great post.

  • Julie Grisham says:

    What does clicking the g+ buttton do for you? I clicked it and a window popped up for me to create a google+ account.

  • Missy Rankin says:

    Mercy! The above list is truly my heart’s desire (except the TV part). I don’t watch much TV- I watch preaching, cooking, gardening shows etc.

    But anyway … I have the garden. I’m taking small steps. What peace, joy and contentment I have found “homesteading” in my suburb! 🙂

    That list just nailed everything- I’ve been thinking and planning and doing!

    Thanks for the article.

  • Laurie B says:

    Kendra, best advice ever!!! Homesteading can seem overwhelming at times, and in this post you’ve managed to put it into bit-sized goals. Thank you! I will indeed be sharing this one!

  • Mary Kellogg says:

    The best advice is about the TV. Now we have a tv, but I got rid of all the cable channels, just have the basic stuff, 10 so channels. Boy are we ever busy, not sitting watching mindless shows!

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