Going Home - Interest in Homesteading Once Again on the Rise

A depiction of a 1-Acre, Self-Suficient, Homestead.
Illustration by: Doring Kindersley

"Broadly defined, homesteading is a lifestyle of simple self sufficiency."

-"Homesteading" on Wikipedia.com

With the "Great Recession" in full swing, and political ineptitude reigning in Washington, Americans are becoming increasingly suspicious of security in terms of 401k's, savings bonds, and fists full of dollars.  Urban fatigue, a sense of isolation and the seemingly inscrutable pace of technology has also created a sense of longing unsatisfied by materialism.  While some may spend their time in a cable news induced state of catatonia, or in a credit fueled binge of consumption, others are turning to back to the land.

The notion of homesteading is far from new, but a modern variant, dubbed "urban homesteading" has arisen in recent years.  Previous back-to-the-land movements have typically involved a diaspora from urban and suburban areas to rural environs, but urban homesteading re-imagines the concept in terms of an urban living space that provides food, water, and energy in addition to shelter.

According to the Dervaes Institute, an organization run by a family who converted their Pasadena California home into a "working farm", the ten elements of urban homesteading are as follows,

1.Grow your own FOOD on your city lot.
More than 50% of diet, organically, on an urban lot (approx. less than half an acre*) with visually appealing landscaping. *Depends on square footage of house, location, and climate zone.

2.Use alternative ENERGY sources.
E.g., solar, wind, in conjunction with energy efficiency and conservation measures to reduce usage.

3. Use alternative FUELS & TRANSPORTATION.
E.g., bio-fuels and/or alternative methods of transportation (bicycle, walk, public).

4. Keep farm ANIMALS for manure and food.
Practice animal husbandry.

Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without, compost it, re-purpose it.

6. Reclaim GREYWATER and collect RAINWATER.
Practice water conservation and recovery.

7. Live SIMPLY.
…in the manner of past eras. Develop back-to-basics homemaking skills, including food preservation and preparation.

8.Do the work YOURSELF.
Learn to do home and vehicle maintenance, repairs and basic construction.

9. Work at HOME.
Earn a living from the land or hand work done at home. Develop a homebased economy.

10. Be a good NEIGHBOR.
Be conscious and considerate of your surroundings – ask yourself, “Would I want to live next to me?” Offer a helping hand for free. Urban homesteading is a community-based way of life, not a business opportunity. Be a neighbor, not a business person.

While I'm not advocating that you convert your apartment into a 7,000 pounds of produce per annum organic garden.  It is enough to move step-wise in the direction of sustainability, simplicity, and self-reliance.  My own experience has taught me that small changes create momentum and lead to bigger changes.  The walk gradually becomes a run.

I have found tremendous satisfaction in simply starting a back-yard garden plot (see How Does Your Garden Grow), preparing meals at home (a la Caveman Cuisine), and simplifying my life by eliminating things like cable TV.  To be sure, there will be no reclaiming of "greywater" at my homestead anytime soon.


"Back-to-the-land Movement", Wikipedia.com

"Start a 1-Acre, Self-Sufficient Homestead" By John Seymour August/September 2011

KCCI Abundance EcoVillage Feature Part I from Ideal Energy on Vimeo.

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About Unknown

Tony is the host of the Paleo Magazine Radio podcast, author of "Paleo Grilling: A Modern Caveman's Guide to Cooking with Fire", and Cofounder of Powerful PT, an innovative information resource for Fitness Professionals. He has appeared on numerous local and national television and radio broadcasts and regularly hosts healthy cooking workshops and informational lectures. He is also a full-time Personal Trainer and Wellness Consultant who lives in Jacksonville Florida with his wife Jamie.
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  1. Hey! I just happened to see your blog because of your post on the Mark's Daily Apple fb page. I live in a community that embraces these principles! Check it out: www.abundanceecovillage.com
    We're totally off-grid!

  2. Whoa! Just checked out the link and am totally jealous! The Abundance EcoVillage is the way of the future! I'm embedding video to this post to help spread the word!