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Urban Homesteading - Page 3

post #41 of 73
Originally Posted by cymbeline View Post

We are urban homesteaders, too, so glad to see this thread

FWIW, I have no interest in moving out to the country -- I am a city girl! We live in a 50's neighborhood (once the burbs, now considered "inside the loop"). It was once farmland, and before that it was blackland prarie, so our soil is TEH AWESOME. There is a little market in the center of the neighborhood with an IGA and pharmacy. There's a little herbalist shop and acupuncture. The public library and schools are all in walking/biking distance. I can lean over the fence and chat with my neighbors, we have block parties and meetups at the playground. We have light rail and the city bus to everywhere. I love living here. I wish all neighborhoods were this well planned!

We turned our yard into an edible lawn (very Food not Lawns). So, we have some traditional raised beds, but we also have a lot of stuff just growing about. We eat about 50% from our garden and the other 50% comes from the neighborhood CSA, the local farmer's market, the big-box bulk warehouse and our neighborhood grocer (but I'd love to go 100% local -- we're working on it).

We haven't gotten chickens yet. We're vegetarian, but I sure would like to have homegrown eggs (DS1 and I are allergic to dairy, but DH craves cheese now and again, and we all like eggs). We'll see. With four kids, two dogs, a cat, the garden, two volunteer commitments and a small business, I am already overloaded.

We're trying to go off-grid, this will take both installing wind and solar as well as overall decreasing our electricity usage. We are finally down to one car. Once we are financially independent (2015 is the plan), we hope to ditch the other car as well or put it in storage to use for annual vacations/family visits.

So... things are swell. I'd love to keep chatting with everyone about this subject. The thing I would really love to chat more about is how to continue to encourage our neighbors to adopt a more self-sufficient lifestyle and really get hyper-local. I'd say about 15% of our neighborhood is on board, but the rest are watching us with curiosity and continuing to live unsustainable lifestyles. I like to think we are setting a pretty good example, tho ;-)



Can I come and work for you so I can learn? haha


I feel like it would be so wonderful to live like this and I think I would like to do it if we ever are in a place we own or plan to live for a long time. I just am a bit scared. I grew up in very urban fast paced city, with a maid and a driver and I really feel like that has been a curse for me. I don't know how to do anything.  There was just no one in my family that did these kind of things and we lived in a 3bedr apt downtown, there was no land to grow anything. I learned how to cook when I moved away from home at age 21 and I feel like I'm still learning. I keep daydreaming about baking and being a better cleaner and learn a craft of some sorts, but I feel overwhelmed about where to start.

I've been feeling like I want to go move in the mountains and forget the world, but I think settling for something in the middle might be better. I just don't know where to start. I bookmarked that canning site, that's something that I should learn, but if anyone has more books, sites, guidance, I would gladly take it. I feel at a lost and wish I had somewhere around that could teach me the ways of the world and in turn I could help with  whatever they have going on. I've even thought of joining a commune haha

post #42 of 73


post #43 of 73

Over the moon to find this thread! We are very new to urban homesteading, and there is so much for me to learn! If anyone finds the link to the blog roll please post.

post #44 of 73

My DW led me over to this thread. We are both very excited about it.


We own a small house on a tiny lot in the downtown area of Toronto, Canada. Our lot is 14ft wide by 120ft long. A lot of that taken up by a long skinny house, a small shed and a cement pathway. We plan to use the very sunny and tiny front yard (8ftx12ft) as a garden to grow food, and a part of our back yard along side the neighbours garage to grow greens, and then another 2ft x 15ft sunny length in the back for staking tomatoes. That will leave a small patch for sitting and enjoying the garden and for our toddler to play a bit.


The last place we lived was a rental with our own 8ft x 15ft garden plot. We grew tons of stuff there. 5 different varieties of tomatoes, green beans, peas, spinach, swiss chard, kale, collards, green peppers, cucumber, herbs, lettuce, parsley, basil and coriander.


We have played around a bit with canning. But at this point we just do a water bath canning. I would love to get a pressure canner. We also plan on buying a small deep freeze to help keep/store food. I am going to go to a couple of canning workshops that are available. What I would love is to find a community of canners. Do a once a week canning session each fall with 5 or 6 others and share all the work and benefits.


We do not have the climate or space to grow all of our own food. But we do have access to some great resources and opportunities to help us along in being more community orientated to work together to be more self sufficient. Such as food cooperatives, urban gardening organizations, excellent honey from a local bee growers cooperative, great farmers gardens. And I work for a non-profit food security organization where I have access to education, support and direct access to local farmers and their produce.


We do not plan to move from the house we live in for at least several years. And we love our community and feel that if we ever buy a different house it would be in the same community. But we would love to live simpler and more self sufficient lifestyles.


We are urban. And although we try, we do consume more than we would like, and are not as self sufficient as we could be.

We have been making steps towards our goals. We cook more from scratch, we buy more local, be buy fewer things, we are learning to sew and build some of our own furniture, we don't own a car and try to keep energy use to a minimum, we want to start making our own detergents and cleaning supplies. We still have much to learn, but it is very exciting to see this thread and know that it is possible to do all of this.

post #45 of 73

So, how do you combat the rats? I posted with this question over the summer and got a few good ideas, but in the end we had to rip out a large part of the garden because it provided a covered path through the yard for the really big, really ugly city rats!!


Any ideas for how to do it better next year would be awesome!!

post #46 of 73

Love this thread. We recently decided to buy a house in town instead of out of town on at least an acre b/c at this point I want to be in town with the kids. They (and I!) like to have access to friends and I didn't want to feel isolated. Years ago I lived on 5 acres and loved it, but with kids I don't want that just yet again.

Plus, my DH would have a commute and I fear that oil is only rising and didn't want to be dependent on gas to go everywhere, as well as DH's work. In fact, that was a huge factor, the cost of transportation and what we think will be insane energy costs in the future.


Our lot is .20 and has lots of space for a garden- already one raised plot. Planning on chickens and have already added blueberry bushes and fruit trees. More fruit trees/grapes/etc to come. PLus, since our summers are so dry I'm trying to figure out a way to capture the winter rain for the summer months to water. Anyone have info on that? smile.gif


I second that book The Backyard Homestead and really love this book: 


It is very detailed, more so than the Backyard Homestead. And has beautiful pictures.


Last year with moving mid-summer and a very high need baby I didn't get a lot of garden work done. I'm hoping that since the littlest is 2 this summer I will get more time. My DD definitely was much easier around 2 years of age. 

Nice to meet y'all!

post #47 of 73

I used to be a wannabe urban homesteader up until August! The Army moved our family to a rural area and we're renting about 4 acres! Most of it is wooded, but then again, I'm not really sure how big an acre looks like? We got our goats in September, and our doe had babies in November. Planning on getting chickens and bees and starting a garden. The only thing is that I wish it were fenced in, and that it was flatter.. and the soil was better.. haha We did have a chance to move to a cheaper place that was all those things, but my husband ended up liking the house itself too much.. Which he is paying the bills, so whatever. lol

post #48 of 73

Subscribing.  We are heading in this direction.  Urban homesteading-love it.  I searched and searched and we thought about it and looked at rural places and in the end chose to buy a home in a regular neighborhood where we won't need a car if we don't have one, can grow food, close to the things we need.  I just feel like everywhere I go, I meet people or read on mdc or other forums about people wanting to "head for the hills' and buy 20 acres, live out in the country ,off grid, yada yada yada...I really feel that urban homesteading is more sustainable for our population as a whole.  Not everyone can afford 20 acres.  And I bet a lot of people that move out there can't handle all that.  I think that UH is more sustainable and doable for average people.  You don't have to wait till you can move to the 'country' to live more sustainably.  We can do it RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW.   There is so much idealizing and romanticizing about this living "green" thing.  I think change has to start within communities and living out there all alone doesn't do that.  We can change things, right within our own communities and towns.  



 I'm moving to our place this summer, after a couple more remodeling projects are done.  DH is military and is deploying then so it will just me and the little fam.  

In our (long term) plans:


  1. Rainwater catchment, gutter rain barrel system.  Our neighbor has 2 huge barrels ( I think they are 200 gal a piece) and he said, one good rainstorm and they fill up.  We will using his expertise to help us with this project.
  2. Convert lawn to food (mostly tropical trees{our house is in coastal FL where tropical things like mangoes and avocados grow}-in FL xeriscaping is pretty big because water is scarce as it is, one of our other neighbors has just converted his entire lawn to be non-lawn (and there are many more in the 'hood). We will have a combo of fruit trees (lime, avocado, mango, banana, and another citrus, prob orange) and native (and hopefully edible) plants like agave,aloe,portulaca, etc.  
  3. Clothesline - check
  4. get a manual pump for the well
  5. Berkey water filter- check
  6. convert natural gas water heater and furnace to electric and supplement power useage w/solar.  Our house is south facing and we get a ton of sunshine almost all year.
  7. Get new windows to maximize efficiency and to allow more open airflow so we can get the ocean breeze and not use so much A/C.- check
  8. Remove carpets and refinish terazzo to cool off those Fl summers- check


and many more on the list to come, I'm sure.


Eventually ,we won't have a car, only bicycles and a boat.  We can bike or walk to every single thing we need within a 5 mile radius.   We have a small produce stand that comes to the end of our street every weekend, and there are so many farmers and markets nearby that with our beach cruisers and big baskets should be no biggie.  Plus we have fishing to supplement.  Plus there are grocery stores, :lol


Already in the regular routine of doing:

  • making my own laundry soap (actually still buy store bought soap and just use 1 tbsp and 1-2 tbsp of MY mix for each load, so I stretch the laundry realllllly far). my mix-if anyone is interested: one cup of each-borax, washing soda, baking soda, and 1/2 cup of oxyclean (only because I still have a bucket in my house, it gets the stains out well).
  • cooking a lot of food from scratch
  • paper free kitchen
  • reuseable feminine products
  • at the FL house (I'm currently living in between due to dh's job) - no microwave or dishwasher
  • reduce, reuse, recycle
  • make my own lip balm and more body products


have to run now, will update more later... :)


post #49 of 73

Check out Gaia's Garden ... it's a great intro to permaculture and is quite applicable to urban spaces. 


We're in a townhouse with postage stamp yards.  The front yard is north facing with a huge ornamental cherry so the margins are deep shade.  I got rid of the lawn by putting down three bags of mulch and pulling up a couple of straggly clumps of grass every spring.  But nothing terribly useful will grow in the front yard -- deep shade, poor drainage, and, when it's not a big puddle, is parched.  The backyard is mostly taken up by my 4x8 raised bed though I do have some sage, lavender, and valerian partly under the deck.  I've tried container gardening on the deck with varying success.  It gets scorching hot out there. 


This year I'm planning on doing a polyculture planting in the raised bed and seeing if I can maybe get a tomato plant or two on the margins of the yard.  And I'm wondering if I can put one of these -- http://www.about-garden.com/a/en/3274-actinidia-arguta-issai-mini-kiwi/ -- in a container on the deck.  If I can trellis it up maybe it can provide a little bit of mid-day shade to help me grow some peppers!

post #50 of 73

Oh, and I meant to add ... your mulberries should give good forage for your chickens as should your oak if it is bearing acorns.  I don't remember what type of oak you said it was.  Acorns, being high in protein, should be really good for your chickens.


post #51 of 73

Subbing.  We are on the urban edge of suburbia in a 900 sq. ft. house with 1/4 acre divided between a side yard with mulberry trees and a few tall maple trees from the side and back neighbors' yards, and a sunny back yard with some shade from another maple.  We have two small raised beds and have been successful using the square foot method to grow tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, cucumbers, beets, and many varieties of greens.  We cook most things from scratch, and I've been successfully canning fruit and tomatoes for jams, preserves, salsa, and sauces using a water canning method the last few years.  I'd love to expand the gardens in the back and plant some herbs and berry bushes in the side yard at some point.  


We love our little community and while we hope to move on from this house in the next few years (two kids and two adults in a two bedroom with one tiny bathroom is starting to feel pretty cramped), we have pretty much decided we'd like to stay in this neighborhood because of its proximity to coffee shops, post office, playgrounds, etc.  It's also about a ten minute commute into the city.


Does anyone have experience dealing with lead in the soil?  Our raised beds are filled with luscious, mulchy, organic compost, but this part of the country (Providence) is known for its old houses and lead in the soil.  We have had the house itself tested and followed precautions for making it safe for out two LOs, but the yardis a whole other story.  Any suggestions?

post #52 of 73

Definitely keeping an eye on this.  Due to finances I won't be able to live the dream but I CAN do some UH in my own little corner of the world.  We are making plans for a very large garden this year having taught myself very valuable skills from last year's successful gardening venture.  We already line dry everything exclusively, make our own cleaners, make much of our food from scratch, taught myself to knit and sew a number of years ago, and are working on consuming much much less.  I live in a small 800sq ft home with a nice fenced in yard that I rent but my landlord is fine with us gardening in the backyard we share with our neighbors.  I'll have to see just how shady my backyard is due to the lovely huge tree back there but I'm hoping for good conditions.  It's a new house for us.  Right now the plan is to keep going with keeping consumptioin to a bare minimum, stocking my pantry with home canned items and bulk goods, and teaching myself valuable skills like soap making and continue my journey to be a better sewer and keep my carbon footprint as low as possible.  Animals will be a long ways off but I'm doing the best with what I have available to me right now.

post #53 of 73

The Backyard Homestead is a great book - I wholeheartedly second the suggestion on that one. I also buy every issue of Urban Farming magazine - it has really great practical advice.


I'm homesteading in the city as well. I've been doing it for five years, from an apartment with no yard. This past fall we finally moved into a space with a deck and patio. I grow as much food as I can (this year I plan to add some fruit - we're considering a dwarf container blueberry and columnar apple trees in a couple of half whiskey barrels). I can, dry and otherwise preserve fruits and veggies (supplementing what I grow from the farmer's markets and you-pick trips). We're renting an apple tree from Earth First Farms this year too. I also like to sew, make candles, cook from scratch, bake my own bread and tons of other urban homesteader activities. We don't own a car - we take public transit or walk.And we prefer to patronize local, family run businesses in or close to our neighborhood. It really is a mindset and a way of life, not just a location.


And not to toot my own horn, but I do blog about it all at Apartment Farm. I also link to a lot of other homesteaders on my blog that have sites that are worth checking out.

post #54 of 73

Another Urban homesteader here!  Me and Dh do have big dreams about moving to some land but we know it's going to be a few years.  Doing what we can in the meantime helps us to be frugal and save money for our land, as well as feeling good about doing things ourselves!


We currently rent in a large city and only have a small 2nd story patio.  I fill it to the brim year round with lettuce, carrots, and beets in the winter...tomatoes, herbs, cukes, peppers, green beans and lots more in the summer.   This year Dh is growing some mushrooms indoors - SO easy and again cheap!  For fertilizer we have a vermicompost bin to eat up our scraps quickly.


I've been baking exclusively from scratch for years.  We make bread, snacks, condiments, pretty much anything with multiple ingredients.  I buy unprocessed ingredients in bulk much like I plan to grow them on our future farm.


I sew, knit, craft, can and Dh can fix computers, cars, and almost anything in our house.  Knowing how to do things yourself is easy and it's great to learn the knowledge yourself!


Although I hate living in the city we have been able to cut down to one car, and I LOVE that!  This year some bikes would be nice.

post #55 of 73


Originally Posted by simplyc 

This year Dh is growing some mushrooms indoors - SO easy and again cheap!  For fertilizer we have a vermicompost bin to eat up our scraps quickly.


What kind of mushrooms do you grow? Where do you keep them in your apartment? And where do you keep the vermicompost bin indoors? I've been wanting to try doing both of these and would love to hear your tips.

post #56 of 73

I'm subbing. : )


We have 10th of an acre and I am learning how to garden.  I want to plant fruit trees and expand my strawberries, and raspberries.  We have three laying hens and 12 meat chicks right now.  I am harvesting rainwater for gardening and laundry.  I'd love to get a filter to use it for cooking and drinking too.  I was hoping to store food last summer but we ate EVERYTHING I grew and more.  I have plans to add some more garden boxes and maybe tear up an unused part of the driveway for more space.   Right now I have onions and brussels sprouts growing in the yard and I am trying to sprout cabbage and kale and thyme.  I'm trying to convince my husband to get dairy goats and meat rabbits and bees.  We have someone who will process the chickens for us, but I'd rather do it ourselves. My husband is worried about bothering the neighbors because our lot is so small, that's why he is balking at getting rabbits.  We just got a wringer washer, and I've been line drying for over a year now and we LOVE our wood stove. Someday we will get solar panels too.


Sometimes I wonder where the line is between trashy and urban homesteading.  Right now I have firewood stacked in my garage and diapers hanging from my ceiling to dry....

post #57 of 73


post #58 of 73

We live in a neighborhood with average-sized lots. We're close to the highway, and grocery store, post office, etc, but still far enough outside town that quite a few people in the homes surrounding the neighborhood have chickens, ducks, there are even people a few miles down the road that have a ton of cows. I like our not-too-urban area, but I'm finding that the neighborhood living is putting a cramp in my plans for homesteading. Our neighborhood is full of rabbits and cats, so I don't know how we'd protect a garden, and since our backyard belongs to the dogs, space is fairly limited. DH refuses to do a "Food Not Lawns" sort of thing in the front yard (he thinks it will be too much work compared to mowing every few weeks), and I'm not sure that my HOA would allow it anyway. That leaves the sides of the house. So we could possible manage two 3x8 ft beds, both in partial shade. I'm guessing that's not very good for variety. shrug.gif



Originally Posted by mumm View Post

We have about 1/2 acre with 11 chickens and plenty of space. I have a small garden on our property (strawberries, raspberries, onions, garlic, potatoes, tomatillos, 1 apple tree), but rent land for the big garden.


My question, for mumm or anyone else who has ideas, is how  do we go about renting land? With so many people on several (apparently ungardened) acres on the outskirts of our neighborhood, I can't help wondering if I could just use some of their land. I don't know what terms are appropriate for that kind of agreement. Do they donate land/water and get half the crops? Do we pay a certain amount and they get some of the crops? What happens if the garden doesn't work out? Any sort of insight would be helpful. Thanks!!

post #59 of 73

Just an FYI that the term "Urban Homesteading" and "Urban Homestead" are now trademarked! The Dervaeses of the path to freedom fame have trademarked these terms and have sent "cease and desist" type letters to other companies and blogs that use Urban Homestead / Urban Homesteading in there names.  


Read more about the issue here: http://www.mnn.com/your-home/organic-farming-gardening/blogs/update-california-family-leaves-unwanted-mark-on-urban-agr 





And read more or join Facebook group to take back the name here: http://www.facebook.com/swagbucks#!/pages/Take-Back-Urban-Home-steadings/167527713295518 

post #60 of 73

What??? that's so bogus.  I mean I really respect and love what the Dervaes did and do, but copyrighting the name?  that's rediculous and weird.  Why would they do that? If they were truly "for the cause" then they'd be all about getting the message out there.

Originally Posted by Denvergirlie View Post

Just an FYI that the term "Urban Homesteading" and "Urban Homestead" are now trademarked! The Dervaeses of the path to freedom fame have trademarked these terms and have sent "cease and desist" type letters to other companies and blogs that use Urban Homestead / Urban Homesteading in there names.  


Read more about the issue here: http://www.mnn.com/your-home/organic-farming-gardening/blogs/update-california-family-leaves-unwanted-mark-on-urban-agr 





And read more or join Facebook group to take back the name here: http://www.facebook.com/swagbucks#!/pages/Take-Back-Urban-Home-steadings/167527713295518 


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