Homesteading: Back to Basics and a Simpler Life

Establishing a new life away from the chaos of city life and living quietly and peacefully off the land is a dream that lives in the hearts of many.

The concept of homesteading is rooted in a desire to live a self-sufficient life, creating your own food supply, and living an autonomous, independent life with the control and flexibility that comes with it. 

It’s not necessary to move out to the country and buy a farm to get started homesteading.  Being a “homesteader” can mean different things to different people, but essentially, a “homesteader” is a person who is as self-sufficient as possible.

A homesteader grows or raises most of the food he eats, learns to preserve food, utilizes renewable resources, and acquires many other similar skills that limit his reliance on outside sources.  

“Homesteading is characterized by the raising and preservation of your own food, and can also involve small-scale production of clothing and craft work for household use or sale,” said Vego Garden Horticulturist Sydney Fiene. “It’s about sustainable living and applying social behaviors and choices that minimize environmental decline.”

Although total self-sufficiency is an unrealistic goal for most, Fiene said there are many simpler steps that anyone can take that can be impactful. 

Begin your homesteading journey

  • Reduce, reuse, recycle. If more people did these things, the impact on the environment would be significant. 
  • Take more time to take back control and do things yourself.
  • Green cleaning. This involves switching out the harsher chemicals we use in our everyday life for more environmentally friendly options, or just using an old, torn shirt instead of paper towels to clean.
  • Reduce energy use. It makes you more self-sufficient, it is better for the environment, and saves you money. 
  • Lower your water usage by harvesting rainwater and choosing drought-resistant plants to grow.

Despite the space limitations of apartment dwellers, or those with very small yards, Fiene said it’s still possible to take steps toward self-sufficiency. 

“First, start thinking about what kinds of homesteading activities you might enjoy,” she said. “If you have room for even just a small garden, this could be one of the most productive things you could do. You do not need a huge garden. For a small family, even just a few vegetable plants will produce plenty, and you can preserve extras.”

Vego Garden can help those of you in small spaces with its line of raised beds on wheels and planters.

Homesteading hurdles

“Sticking to the journey is the hardest part for most people,” Fiene continued. “It’s so easy to walk into a store and grab your paper towels or cleaning supplies, but the environment will thank you if you make your own.”

There isn’t much education about homesteading these days, but Fiene said the information is at everyone’s fingertips.

“Everything is online, but you have to dig a little deeper to find what you’re looking for,” she explained. “Problem-solving is another issue. If one homemade cleaner doesn’t work, you can’t give up. There are many options, but you must keep trying till you find your match.”

Starting too much, too soon is another hurdle. Often, people allow their enthusiasm to get the better of them, and while it might be exciting to have an abundance of livestock, it could become overwhelming to those still in the early stages of learning. It’s more advisable to start with a smaller number of animals, and then gradually expand as you become more confident in your abilities. 

Essential skills to help you get started

Part of the excitement and joy of life as a homesteader is learning how to preserve the fruits of your labor. You may have seen many of these practices in your grandmother’s kitchen, but they’re just as useful now as they were then.

Fiene said before beginning an actual homestead, it’s important to gain proficiency in certain key skills.

  • Gardening
  • Preserving food
  • Composting
  • DIY cleaning
  • Cooking from scratch
  • Canning 
  • Foraging
  • Hunting

“There are so many useful skills that can help you become a successful homesteader,” she said. “Pick the ones that work best for your lifestyle.”

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