Urban Homesteading - Gardening When You Live in the City

Homesteading is having a moment right now. 

I have a few ideas why it's trending. People want

  • More control over how they get their food
  • More control over what's in their food
  • Healthier food full of nutrients, not chemicals
  • To produce food in a sustainable way - reduce the environmental impact of large-scale farming
  • To connect with the natural world

Yes and yes! If you're reading this article, this is resonating with you, right? 

Homesteading Back in the Day

I was a child in the 60s and 70s, and I thought homesteading was something from American history - something I'd learned about in the Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House" books. To me, homesteading meant moving to the great plains and living off the land. Not something people did today. 

The homesteading described in the Little House books referred mainly to the Homestead Act enacted in May 1862, which was intended to motivate people to populate rural areas of the United States and hopefully lift them out of poverty. People could become land owners, which was a huge deal back then. Homesteaders would get a tract of land for free if they moved their families to that land, stayed there for a certain time period, and worked ("improved") the land.

That's the bare minimum about it, certainly I'm glossing over the complexities of the Homestead Act for simplicity in this article.

Homesteading is back with a modern spin.

It isn't just about living in the country and building a family farm. It's a lifestyle that embraces self-sufficiency, a closer connection to the Earth, and resourceful ways of living.

A kitchen garden is a big component of homesteading. Gardening requires resources, though - specifically a place to garden.

If you're a city dweller, can you be a modern homesteader, when you don't have land?

  • Is this your situation?
    • you don't have any land on which to grow a garden
    • your land is not suitable for gardening

All is not lost! 

You absolutely can garden in an urban setting - there's a solution(s) that fits your needs. Here are the three main techniques for gardening when you don't have much space. 

Solution 1: Container Gardening

Plants can grow all kinds of containers. If you have a balcony or patio with abundant sunlight, you have the foundation for a successful container garden. 

Solution 2: Hydroponic Systems

You can set up a hydroponic system designed for home use. These systems can be a lot of fun!

Solution 3: Community Gardening

Leasing a plot in a nearby community garden is another solution, and I may be biased, but I think it's the best option. It's real gardening in the earth.

Over the next few weeks, let's explore gardening for the urban homestead. Each solution has pro's and con's;  let's dive in and figure out the best solution(s) for you.  


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