According to Wikipedia, the definition of homesteading is “a vernacular term for a lifestyle of self-sufficiency.” When you think of homesteading, you generally think of a person living in the middle of nowhere, off-grid, growing all their own food and raising animals. However, with recent supply chain disruptions, a pandemic, and an unstable economy, many of us, including those that live in the city, have been researching how to become self-sufficient. Have you started thinking of growing your own food, or even creating a small garden in your backyard? Have you been stocking up at the grocery store, or just buying a few extra canned goods every time you go? Are you shopping more local and purchasing your produce at farmer’s markets? Homesteading is so much more than owning and operating an entire farm, it’s a path to live a more self-sufficient life, one step at a time.
“Homesteading is not defined by where someone lives, such as the city or the country, but by the lifestyle choices they make (@wikipedia).”
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Let’s talk about the 5 ways you may already be homesteading, or at least on the path to living a more a self-sufficient life! Even if you are already on the path, you many find something new…
1. Buying Local
Homesteading is more than living on an island by yourself. No one wants that, or at least most people don't. Independence, funny enough, works best in a community of likeminded people. It would be extremely difficult to do everything on your own. Even the best, most independent homesteader is going to need help at some point, or need something they don’t have. By shopping local and supporting your local farmer, you are living in community. In times of trouble, you know you don’t have far to go to have access to essential goods. Even if you just have a great relationship with your neighbor, or know you can rely on them, you are living in community and already engaging in a homesteading lifestyle!
2. Essential Skills
Do you know how to cook or sew? Do you know how to fix plumbing, electrical, or build things? These are all skills that not only help you to be more self-sufficient but can be extremely beneficial in times of need. They can help make you money, be used for bartering, and just simply allow you to help out a neighbor, if the need should arise. These skills are what truly makes a homesteader, a “homesteader” – being able to be as self-sufficient as possible, while also being a vital part of your community.
3. Sustainable/Renewable Energy
Do you produce some of your own electricity with solar or wind power? Maybe you're just really committed to "up-cycling" or repurposing things instead of throwing them out? These are all ways to become more independent and live a more self-sustainable life.
4. Stocking up on Essential Goods
“Prepping” has definitely become a trending word lately. It’s almost become too “trendy.” Stocking up on essential goods can make all the difference in times of trouble. One of the goals of homesteading is to get to a point where you don’t have to buy everything in order to stock up - you can produce these surplus resources on your own. This may not realistic for everyone, though. Even my husband and I who live on a 20-acre “ranch”, as my husband likes to call it, know that things like growing wheat is not feasible for us as the equipment alone is ridiculously expensive, and almost all of our land is for pasture animals. This is where community and stocking up can be extremely beneficial. Canned goods, storing things like rice, beans and even wheat in mylar bags are great ways to help make you and your family more self-sustainable. And you may even be able to provide for those in need during a crisis situation from your abundance.
5. Growing Your Own Food
Do you have a garden, a window box, even just a green thumb or a love for growing things? These are all vital skills to have for your own homestead, plus to be a reliable resource for others. So many of us are thinking of and turning to growing our own food during these times. Even if you have a desire and the knowledge, but don’t have the land, you can be a great resource for those around you. It’s amazing the skills or knowledge we don’t realize we have that can be hugely beneficial to others because we just have a passion for something. Have a desire, but don’t have the land? We have a whole post on this! Even if you are growing some peppers in pots or herbs in your window seal…you are self-sustainable with those things. This makes you a beginner homesteader! Watch out, though! It can be very contagious!😉
6. Raising Animals/Buying Local
In a recent blog post, we talked about how chickens are the “gateway animal” to farming and homesteading. Do you have chickens in your backyard or considering getting some? We have family members who live in town and have chickens right in their backyard. The great thing about chickens is they don’t need a ton of space and one chicken can give you an egg/day! Of course, it would be awesome if we all could raise our own beef, pork, lamb and have a milking cow, but just by having one or two small chickens in your backyard, you are officially homesteading! Another great option is to find and purchase local meat. My husband and I have cows; however, we don’t have enough to always have meat in our freezer, so we purchase a whole cow from our neighbor. The awesome thing is we are not only supporting our community and a vital relationship, but we know how the cow was raised – grass fed – and it tastes delicious!
7. Food Preservation
Do you like to can your own food, or maybe you canned with your mom or grandmother when you were little? Knowing how to preserve your own food is a vital skill for your homestead. Maybe you don’t can, but have a dehydrator, or a vacuum sealer. These are all great ways to preserve your food for long term storage. By making your food last, you are stretching out the growing season, or even storing food for years, like with freeze-drying, for times when you may not be able to have a garden. Homesteading is all about using the skills and resources you have to not just be self-sufficient on a day-to-day basis, but having the peace-of-mind in knowing that when things get hard, you have the resources to sustain you.
My husband and I both grew up in the suburbs. I did not grow up around farm animals, but my husband grew up around horses. When we met, we both lived in town. Before we met, my husband inherited those horses and had to board them. He knew he wanted a place where he could have the horses on his own piece of land. He always had an instinct to be more self-sufficient, which led us to our now 20-acre ranch. Soon we didn’t have just horses, but cows as well. Then came a garden, and then chickens, of course. This has been years of building, but it all started with a small dream. We slowly added things as we could afford them, like a manual well-water pump, and slowly built up an emergency supply of dry goods and supplies. Homesteading does not happen overnight; it starts with a dream and a vision and then builds as far as you want to take it!
Our now homestead is also where Eden began. Along with the dream of being self-sustainable my husband also had a vision for something bigger…helping others be self-sustainable as well. It started with small designs and grew into a fully sustainable habitat (pictured above...see more here). That dream led to partnering with Bart Womack, our now CEO, which then led to the Eden Grow Tower…fully automated indoor grow towers that can grow all the produce you need for you and your family, 365 days a year, without being connected to the grid. We have a mission to provide sustainable food and energy to local communities around the world and hope these little bits of information will help you on your journey to living a more free and independent life!
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Alicia Raymond is a Content Creator for Eden Grow Systems. Alicia is passionate about helping others live healthy lives and believes growing your own fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to achieve this. She loves to cook with the food she and her husband grow on their 20-acre homestead in the Pacific NW, where they have also documented their adventures of building and operating a self-sustaining off-grid food habitat on their YouTube channel, therealmartian.com. This effort has now turned into Eden Grow Systems, an indoor grow company. Alicia has experience growing microgreens for profit, and food blogging. She is a former registered nurse, holding a B.S. in Nursing.