Our vision for this group is to promote and encourage Urban Homesteading through meetings and hands on workshops. If you have an idea or a skill you want to share, please jump in and let us know. If you wish to create an event for the first time, you must contact the main organizer to arrange an interview with our education and outreach staff. During this interview, we can learn more about your planned events, skill levels, and how they will benefit our members. Once you become a "Core Education Partner", you will have direct posting access. Thank you!
What is Urban Homesteading?
Urban homesteading is a growing movement in this country, part of the global re-imagining of culture on the other side of governmental indifference and corporate greed. Concerned about climate change and peak oil? Thinking about localizing your food sources? Wondering how to manage water, waste and energy better? Interested in community building and local self-reliance? Looking for resources for taking care of yourself while taking care of the world?
Urban homesteading or creating an urban agricultural resource for self-sufficiency in your own backyard has many benefits. Since 50% of the world's population lives in cities, the production and distribution of food sources from rural areas has a significant ecological and economic impact. Not only does the cost of food increase with the distance it is shipped, its quality, freshness and ultimate safety can decrease as well. This is a tremendous burden to low income residents in urban settings who are estimated to spend 40%- 60% of their annual income on food. Further, within five years, it is expected that 26 worldwide cities will have populations exceeding 10 million. Cities of such size demand the importation of at least 6000 tons of food daily! However, a 1/10 acre lot in an urban setting managed correctly can produce a few thousand pounds of produce in a year. While this may not be enough food with enough variety to solely feed a family, the long term cost reduction in food cost is tremendous. Even for very small urban homesteads, growing a few vegetables on an apartment patio can assist in reducing the amount of money a family spends on its food items.
Agriculture does not require a vast amount of space. By using vertical gardens, raised boxes, and strategically planted food producing landscape plants and trees, an urban homesteader can grow a wide variety of produce. Not only will a family see the food bill go down at the market, they will spend less money on transportation to and from the market for items which perish quickly. Surplus items can even be sold at local markets providing an additional source of household income. They can even be canned and dried for later use. Seeds can be harvested for future use and sale. Some produce can even be used in the making of homemade cosmetic products like soaps, lotions and scrubs. Certain flowering plants can be useful past their decorative lives, by harvesting petals that can be dried for use in potpourri's and cosmetics.
Meat production is the most difficult aspect of urban agriculture. More suburban homesteaders may however find that they have enough space to keep small livestock like chickens or bees that can produce eggs or honey for the family. Raising rabbits on a small scale may be possible as well. Young family members will gain valuable life lessons in the care of such pets which contribute to the family's sustainable living. It may be necessary to check with local ordinances to determine what types of livestock are allowed.
Urban homesteading for self-sufficiency also means capitalizing on available sources of material for the agricultural production and general living. There are a variety of methods for water reclamation. Solar panels allow the capture of available light and convert it into energy which can significantly impact the long term bill for precious power. Use of energy saving appliances and moderation of thermostat controls in the house can greatly cut the homes demand for power. Further, taking advantage of strategically placed windows which can serve to vent and draw air into the home at varying times of the day can keep the home at a stable temperature without running the heater or air conditioner routinely. Trees planted appropriately can provide natural shade to keep a home cooler in summer months without having to use as much electricity for fans or air conditioning. Another significant way to cut energy usage is to line dry laundry. Again, the natural resources of sunlight and wind just outside the doorway can easily dry the laundry.
Fertilizer is a necessary component of keeping a productive garden. Households all over receive ridiculous amounts of junk mail which can be shredded and used in the creation of compost for the garden projects. Animals raised will produce manure which can be recycled in the compost materials that will fertilize the next generation of produce from the garden. A significant amount of organic waste is accumulated in household garbage cans. Egg shells, coffee grounds, fruit rinds and peels can all be collected in a separate depository that will go to the compost bin.
In a world where we are increasingly aware of the negative impacts of lifestyle on the local and global ecology, increased greenery within the urban landscape benefits the environment by reducing pollution.
Some aspects of urban homesteading come at an initial cost, but advance the purpose of sustainable living in a way that has a farther ranging positive benefit than merely the family pocket book. Pollution in an around the urban area is reduced any time a family is able to cut down on transportation, increase vegetation in the landscape of the city, and reduce waste products produced in the home. Globally humanity faces an energy crisis. Not only will energy become increasingly expensive, any measures which reduce reliance on electric and petroleum based energy sources conserves the limited resources. Overall, it is the independence and self-reliance that is by far the greatest benefit of urban homesteading efforts that lead to sustainability.