Why urban homesteading?

photo by Rick&Brenda Beerhorst – creative commons

Is it just a fad? Admittedly, there seems to be an aesthetic connection to a few other trends – the omnipresent hipster beard being one of them. But dig deeper and you’ll see this isn’t just a fad… the roots of urban homesteading are deeply intertwined with those of the sustainability movement.

This struck me while listening to a local radio program on the subject: one of the guests said that homesteading was about being a producer instead of a consumer.

That means: grow vegetables instead of buying them packaged and trucked from Mexico or flown in from Chile; compost your own food and yard waste instead of buying bags of it at the big box store; knit your own clothes instead of buying them. Just the act of thinking about being a producer instead of consumer takes you a giant step in the direction of sustainability. When we start to think about how our goods are produced, they become less discardable, the work that went into producing them less abstract.

I used to think about this movement as “self-sufficiency” but am glad that homesteading seems to have caught on instead, as there is a deep need for community when returning to lost skills and techniques for producing one’s own food and essentials. Homesteaders are organizing food swaps, sharing ferment starters, teaching each other useful skills. The urban part of the equation allows one to spend less gas miles to be part of such a community.

Gardening, permaculture, keeping chickens, raising bees, fermenting, foraging wild foods… All these wonderful activities can allow us to both reconnect to nature and take some of the burden off of her by creating a local food source for ourselves that is less reliant on fossil fuels.

Feeling ready to rock homesteady in Charlotte, NC? There are classes at the Mecklenburg County Cooperative Extension, there’s a monthly food swap in Plaza Midwood and there are a few upcoming workshops on Permaculture that will take place at the Healthy Home Market Community Wellness Center on Central Avenue.