Have you heard of Modern Homesteading? Perhaps, you’ve heard the phrase lumped in with a bunch of other buzz words like “self sufficient”, “off the grid” and “urban agriculture”.
Modern Homesteading is a lifestyle based in, simple living, producing more than you consume and living lightly on the land. Read on to learn more about the movement and to see if modern homesteading is right for you.
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What is Modern Homesteading?
I guess we should start with the most common question: What is homesteading?
Homesteading was originally the act of settling land and setting up a farm for land-based industry that would support the settler and their family. Traditional homestead industries included but were not limited to grain farms and granaries, logging operations and sawmills and animal farming operations.
Modern Homesteading, on the other hand, is more of a lifestyle choice, in which the goal is to live simply, to produce more than we consume and to live lightly and respect the land.
Modern Homesteading is gaining in popularity as people both rural and urban folks are choosing to live more consciously. With this shift in consciousness comes the search for healthy organic food, low impact living and a desire to re-connect with the natural world.
Modern Homesteading is the response to mass-urbanization, globalization and the industrial food system, it is the return to more natural living. Folks are instead choosing to grow their own food and cook from scratch, sew, mend and repair their own clothes, and raise backyard livestock like chickens, ducks and honey bees.
While it may look like it at first glance, modern homesteading is not the same as the Back to the Land movement of the 70’s. Instead, modern homesteaders are keeping their professional jobs and their homes in the city and merging the two worlds. Opting for a simpler lifestyle but with all the comforts the city has to offer.
How you define modern homesteading is up to you, as long as the core principles are maintained. Produce more than you consume and live lightly on the land.
Does a Modern Homestead need to be off the grid?
Many traditional homesteads were off the grid by default. They were in rural and remote areas that simply didn’t have access to city services. Homesteaders hauled water from outdoor wells, rivers or lakes and heated their homes with wood heat.
Nowadays, modern homesteads are mostly grid-tied, although many do supplement with energy alternatives such as solar, wind or micro-hydro. And of course, many homesteads still heat with wood heat, even in the suburbs we like to light the wood-burning fireplace on those cold Canadian nights.
So, the answer is no, not all modern homesteads are off the grid. But, as the efficiency of solar panels increases and battery technology improves I could see many modern homesteads moving towards renewable and off the grid power sources.
Does a Modern Homestead need to be Self Sufficient?
I think the aim for most modern homesteaders is to be as self-sufficient as possible while maintaining their sanity.
The key word in “modern homestead” is modern, often the pressures of living with one foot in the past and one in the present can be daunting. So, as a modern homesteader, I’ve chosen to pick my battles. In times of plenty, I harvest, can, dry and preserve all that the garden has to offer. But on days when the demands of our modern lives are mounting… I unapologetically order pizza.
Another factor in the self sufficiency of modern homesteading is overall land size. Many modern homesteads are located on smaller plots of land, usually under 5 acres, many are even smaller, which makes it hard to build a self sufficient farm with such limited space. Instead, modern homesteads use vertical growing, dwarf fruit trees, and even small breed livestock like Nubian goats or Highland Cattle to achieve their self-sufficiency goals.
Does Modern Homesteading support Urban Agriculture?
Instead of trying to do it all, modern homesteading opts to support urban agriculture. Urban farming and urban agriculture are also growing in popularity. Similar to modern homesteading the goal of urban agriculture is to increase the availability of fresh, healthy, nutrient dense food locally.
Urban Farming is all about using otherwise, unproductive land urban land such lawns, vacant lots and unkept city parks and converting them into productive, micro-farm land. Many of these urban farms are in public space, which brings awareness to the topic of food deserts and exposing a whole new generation to the benefits of healthy, home-grown food.
Partnerships between urban farming and urban homesteading are essential to a strong local food economy. Decentralization and the return to smaller producers may seem like a step backward but it really is the only way forward.
Lean more about Urban Farming from my friend Curtis Stone The Urban Farmer
Are you ready to Farm in the City?
Step 1: Support the Modern Homesteading movement.
The first step to growing the urban homesteading movement is by supporting urban agriculture and your local farmers market. Learn to shop and eat in season and learn some basic food preservation techniques.
More ways to Homestead Without A Farm
Step 2: Grow a small vegetable garden.
Homegrown vegetables are so much better than anything you’ll find in big-box grocery stores. They are fresher and more nutrient dense and honestly, they taste so much better.
Veggies will grow almost anywhere, as long as they have good organic soil, a sunny space and plenty of fresh water. So clear room in an existing flower bed, build a raised bed, or plant a patio garden and start growing your own food.
More articles on Growing Food
Step 3: Maybe move on to backyard chickens?
Who knows, maybe after you get a belly full of fresh food and some dirt under your nails… you just might want to move on to backyard hens 😉
Ok, so there you have it an overview of Modern Homesteading, we covered a lot so let’s recap quick:
-Modern Homesteading is a lifestyle based in simple living, producing more than you consume and living lightly on the land.
-You don’t have to be off the grid to be a modern homesteader but strive for energy efficiency and energy reduction. And opt for renewable energy over fossil fuels whenever possible.
-Modern Homesteading aims for self-sufficiency but not at the cost of happiness. Do your best to be self-sufficient but pick your battles.
-Modern Homesteading is about community, lean on urban agriculture to grow what you can’t. Support your local farmers, barter, trade and share when you can.
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. There is no formal definition of what modern homesteading is, so make it your own. And do your part (however big or small) to farm in the city.
Ok, so that’s it… for now. Be sure to check out my other Modern Homesteading articles and pop back often, I have a whole host of new content coming your way. For more Homesteading ideas see my Homesteading Board on Pinterest.
Thanks for hanging out!