Urban Homesteading Today


Urban homesteading is a comprehensive term describing the practice of providing for one’s own needs in an urban residential setting. It can be practiced through home gardening, conservation of resources such as water and electricity, and even raising small livestock for personal consumption. Urban homesteading serves multiple purposes, including self sufficiency and environmental conservation.

In the 19th century, homesteaders in the Great Plains and the west were known for their self sufficiency. They raised crops for their own consumption, chopped wood for their fuel, raised livestock and poultry for food, created their own medicines from plants and sometimes made their own clothing. The self reliance was defined at the time as “rugged individualism”.
In the 20th century, during the First and Second World Wars, citizens were encouraged to cultivate “Victory Gardens”. If more people grew their own food, commercial agricultural resources would be freed up to feed the troops overseas. Recycling was also encouraged as a way to conserve metal, rubber, lumber, paper and other materials for the war effort.
Urban homesteading attempts to create the same spirit of individual self sufficiency and conservation of natural resources. Not only is it seen as a self improvement method, it considered an environmentally friendly activity.

<b>Urban Gardening</b>

Gardening in a city can be accomplished in a small yard, a patio, and at times, indoors. If an urban neighborhood has a vacant lot, the neighbors can arrange to have it transformed into an urban community garden, with the neighbors each allotted a portion for their own gardening needs.
Though a patio garden may not sound like much, a single tomato plant grown in a pot or flower box can produce between 5 and 20 lbs of fruit. A 3 foot flower box planted with snap peas may produce 10 or more pounds of food. Indoors, medicinal plants such as Aloe and Prickly Pear Cactus can be grown with the assistance of fluorescent or LED lighting and can replace houseplants for decoration, thus serving a dual purpose.
Because the number of plants will be smaller than a large rural garden, care for initial seedlings may be accomplished in a single seedling container. This is a wood, cardboard or Styrofoam container with 100 or more individual compartments or cells. Seeds can be planted in individual cells, allowing the gardener to control the different soil and watering requirements of the various plants. A clear plastic top may be fashioned over the container, allowing for an indoor seedling greenhouse, taking up minimal space in the urban residence.

<b>Resource Conservation</b>

Homesteaders in the past were known for resource conservation, recycling consumable materials and devising alternate uses for products that may otherwise be discarded. Today, these methods are considered not only a wise practice, but an environmentally friendly practice. Water can be collected. Any urban residence with a roof can be used as a collector of rainwater, often by the simple installation of a downspout and rain barrel.
A rain barrel may be 20 gallons or more in size, and can be fitted with a pump for extraction and use in the urban garden. Newspaper can be used as mulch for urban garden pots or planters. Glass and plastic containers will have a multitude of alternate uses, limited only by the imagination of the urban homesteader. Every neighborhood should have a recycling program. If not, a program can be organized by the neighbors.
Though urban homesteading usually cannot totally satisfy the food needs of the individuals, they can diminish the need of purchasing commercially grown items. Every tomato planted in an urban garden, every gallon of water collected in a rain barrel, every pound of newspaper recycled and every disposable item utilized in an alternate use saves a natural resource. As was experienced during the Victory Garden years, the smaller practices of millions of individuals added immensely to the common good.

This post was written by

jasonjason – who has written posts on Home Tips Plus.
I'm a father of three, married and a home owner since 2006. I've worked in fixing up homes and rental properties.

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