An introduction to homesteading

I am a huge fan of simple living and of the do-it-yourself ethic. It’s no surprise then that I am fascinated by homesteading, the lifestyle of “agrarian self-sufficiency”. This article was written for Get Rich Slowly by Phelan, host of A Homesteading Neophyte, a blog about learning to homestead. Phelan is a regular commenter to this site.

Modern homesteading is a great way to save some of your hard-earned cash. That is if you are not afraid of a little hard work and waking before the rooster. The fast-paced convenient world of today can and will lead you down the path to debt. Four years ago I found myself in a terrible situation: How does one go about feeding a family of four on one hundred dollars for two weeks? Did we have enough money to buy gasoline just to get to work? It was scary not knowing where my family was going. Yet when I planted my first tomato, a thought sprouted in my mind.

My first homesteading goals were just to preserve my garden for the winter, insuring that there was always something to eat. But as my garden grew, so did my ideas.

There are initial costs when it comes to living a self-sufficient life. But all of the things that must be purchased will pay for themselves — the time that takes depends on how you manage them. We purchase our items slowly. Big items come with our tax returns, and only after any outstanding bills are paid. Smaller items are bought on an individual basis, depending what we can afford at the time, usually when we are out buying feed for our livestock. Because of the way we have built our homestead piece-by-piece, and the manner in which we have preserved our foodstuffs, we have money left unspent. Four years ago we would have never have believed this possible.

Homesteading isn’t something that can be done only in rural areas; even urban dwellers can benefit from simple self-sufficient activities:

  • Buy food stuff in bulk or on sale and preserve them by canning, freezing or drying.
  • Purchase a layer (standard-size chicken or bantam) for eggs and/or meat. Many cities allow you to have a chicken or two.
  • Container garden and create a neighborhood co-op, bartering different vegetables with one another.

Some of our start-up costs have been purchasing chickens, seeds, canning jars and equipment. My hot water bath and pressure canner came from someone that was no longer using them. The best advice I can give when it comes to your planning stage, is to talk openly about what you are wanting to do. You might be surprised on what some people have stashed in their attic and are willing to give freely. Check freecycle, your local paper, rural estate sales, garage sales and even try placing an ad in a free, or cheaply-priced paper for your wants/needs.

Once your chickens and seeds are purchased, your only costs will be feed and water (if you are not on a well). Seed saving will insure your next year’s garden. Allowing your hens to hatch eggs will replenish your stock. Be creative when it comes to reusing materials. We use our un-repairable refrigerator to store our feed, a broken fan stand for a sprinkler stand, and cracked hoses for deep soak waters. Save your glass jars to store dried goods in, and milk cartons to start seedlings. Just remember: it’s not white trash, it’s imaginative, frugal and eco-friendly.

My family might be an extreme when it comes to simple living. We are building a new home, a green shelter. Using only locally produced and recycled construction materials and building it ourselves will save us more than half the cost of paying someone else to build it. With a fire place, underground water cooling systems (air-conditioning) and going solar powered, our out of pocket expenses will drop dramatically.

Some other things to reduce expenses are:

  • Raiding a wood lot and building a wattle fence
  • Buy fruits and vegetables from a “U-Pick” farm
  • Making your own pasta, juices, vinegars, wine and dyes
  • Creating wooden toys
  • Make your own soap
  • Making your own yogurt and cheeses

These things do take time and dedication, but just the act of making your own dinners from scratch will save you money. Using flour, eggs, and water to manufacture your own noodles will cost you less than buying the same amount in the pre-made versions. This can be said about most things that you can create from scratch, the base components while at first seem more expensive, are cheaper when compared to their convenient counterparts.

While homesteading can seem daunting at times, it will save you money as well as bring your family closer together. At home, self induced family entertainment, is another benefit of living simply. It also comes with free educational experiences that are rarely taught in a public school system. Check in with your local extension office for free or inexpensive classes for you and your children. Take a drive in the country and look for hand made signs boasting of wares for sale, they can lead you to a wealth of knowledge and new friendships.

Modern homesteading is not for everyone. Yet taking a few of these suggestions and applying them to your own life will make a significant difference on the way you view the world, and the impact on your wallet.

You can read more about Phelan’s adventures in homesteading at her blog, A Homesteading Neophyte. She has also written articles for other publications:

If you’d like to read more along the same lines, I also recommend Pocket Farm, a weblog from a couple looking to achieve Voluntary Simplicity on a farm in Maine. You might also like or the forums at Homesteading Today.

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There are 70 comments to "An introduction to homesteading".

  1. Matt says 17 September 2006 at 12:14

    This article assumes your time is worth nothing and this article wants you to invest a _lot_ of time in these activities. I like the concept but for most people this is overkill. I like going to the grocery store and buying pasta and yogurt. It’s worth it to me the extra 50 cents to do so.

  2. Phelan says 17 September 2006 at 21:09

    No, it does not assume your time is worth nothing. All my time is worth quite a bit. I don’t want you to invest a lot of time in these activities. I have a lot of spare time to do hobby type things. My husband works a full time job outside of the home and is never pushed for time/deadlines. If this is something someone wants to do, then they will find the time. Organization, and less “idol time”

    Most people will not homestead unless forced. The article even states that my family is a bit extreme when living a self sufficient life. But these are our choices.

    For me, going to the store to buy pasta is not an extra fifty cents because of the distance I have to drive to get to the grocery.

    Homesteading has worked for us, it will not work for everyone.

  3. Tam says 18 September 2006 at 08:04

    I could be wrong, but I really don’t see how canning can pay off for urban dwellers. Canned vegetables are extremely cheap – usually cheaper than fresh. Even if you buy corn when it’s super-cheap and can it, you’d barely (I think) get down to the cost of the cans already in the store, and it would take you a ton more work, take a lot more storage (to keep your jars until you eat them), plus you have to buy jars and all of that.

    I can sort of imagine canning your own spaghetti sauce, but you can also make it year-round from tomatoes that come already canned.

    But none of that is meant as a criticism of the post. It was interesting to read about what your family is doing, Phelan. Thanks!

  4. Liz says 18 September 2006 at 17:45

    First, thanks for the mention. (and great site, by the way… lots of excellent info)

    The “not worth my time” issue is an interesting one…most people put the same value on the time they spend canning surplus vegetables as they would at their high-paying lawyer job. That’s just wrong. If you enjoy it, and it has a beneficial effect for your family (yes, canning may be a lot of work, but it’s rewarding in that you are doing something for yourself rather than relying on the grocery store to have canned tomatoes when you want them).

    Granted, the homesteading lifestyle would be at odds with urban living, but anyone who lives in suburbia has the space for at least a small vegetable garden plot, which can provide your fresh vegetable needs for a summer.

    As for going to the store to buy pasta, if you’ve never tasted homemade noodles you couldn’t possibly understand why storebought would never be as good as homemade, no matter how cheap they were. And homemade cheese simply cannot be beat.

    Great post, Phelan. 🙂

  5. Stephanie says 19 September 2006 at 08:50

    We are also working toward this kind of living. Saving money is a big part of it, but the lifestyle is very important to us. A simple life, hard work and self reliance feel so good!

  6. J D says 19 September 2006 at 09:13

    I’ll add my two cents on the “not worth my time” debate. While it’s true that the initial return on investment found in these sorts of activities may not be enough to appeal to many of us (especially us city-dwellers), I really think there’s more to it than that. The time spent actually DOING something like this is significantly more valuable than your time when spent watching TV, reading the net (even GRS!!). If you have to work 18 hours a day, that is one thing, but for those of us with 8-10 hour workdays, this sort of activity could be extremely rewarding. For the soccer moms/dads who complain of not having enough time because they have to take their kids from one activity to another, I have to ask this: what is going to be better for your family in the long run, watching little Jimmy and Jenny play youth league soccer, or teaching them the value of hard work and spending time with their family?

  7. Jordan says 19 September 2006 at 16:10

    Sorry, I was the “J D” above. I post on most other places as “J D” but I guess I should clarify here, don’t want anyone to mistake my comments for GRS’s JD.

  8. Ro Abreu says 19 September 2006 at 18:17

    My honest feeling is that while most people may start homesteading for reasons of frugality they will continue for reasons of quality, both of goods and personal growth produced.

    While there are many people on fixed income who can find cheap ways to eat and function, if you want to have decent, organic, high quality food you either have to have a lot of money or figure out a way to DIY. That may mean bartering for the things that you’re not good at or that are really too much trouble; but trading eggs for cheese, canned goods for odd jobs or vegetables for baked goods, can not only help everyone but establish and confirm community ties, something that is sorely lacking in modern life.

    Thanks for encouraging even city dwellers to try their hand at “simple” living. I sure miss my Grandmother’s preserves.

  9. Joe Murphy says 20 September 2006 at 00:42

    Phelan, then don’t make it sound like homesteading is for everyone.
    Also, this essay does not explain to me why I would want to prefer homesteading to finding a better job, and by better I mean closer to my home, paying more, and more fulfilling.

    Trying to convince urbanites to keep chicken and keep tons of food in their cellars is a bit out of touch, bordering on arrogance – I myself enjoy living in a big city, it was my choice and I don’t try to emulate a farmer’s lifestyle here.

    When I’m older, have enough money in the bank and I am ready to skip the city for a rural life, then I’ll begin homesteading, but merely for the fun of it because I have the time to enjoy it.

    Having to rely on homesteading to feed my children because I can’t afford proper food (like organic stuff from the marketplace) would always make try harder at my regular job rather than try to live the lifestyle of a poor man – that sounds a lot like giving up to me.

    Did you know that going back to “mother earth” and homesteading and such was a big idea with the Nazis in the 1930s in Germany? They were also not trusting progression because in their twisted minds, it was only serving the jews, so they wanted to eventually get rid of all cities and back to the simple, alemannic life.

    I am not saying you are Hitler, but you should look at all sides of an issue before fighting for it.

    have a nice day! (I will anyway)

  10. Gregory Bloom says 20 September 2006 at 05:27

    I doubt an economic justification can be made for such frugality. Spending the same time at even a minimum-wage job will earn more in dollars and cents. What this lifestyle does pay, though, is coin of the spirit. And, ultimately, this is the only coin that matters. (After all, what is the point of having money? It is to be able to spend it to improve your life – to translate it into coin of the spirit.)

  11. Chris Brainard says 20 September 2006 at 08:45

    I have already looked into this is not as easy as it sounds. For example I thought why not make my own spaghetti sauce instead of pay $3.00+ a jar? I eat a lot of spaghetti and run through 3 jars a week. That ends up costing $9.00 just for sauce.

    First you need the supplies which are going to run you around $50. This is pretty much a one time fee as you can reuse the supplies. The big expense is the tomatoes. You need 23 pounds of tomatoes for a canner load of 7 quarts. 4 tomatoes on average is a pound at $2.00 a pound. You can save money if you can go to a farmers market. If you can grow your own tomatoes then this isn’t a problem.
    If not you are going to spend about $46 bucks each time. That means each jar of sauce is going to run you about $6.51.

    It really isn’t worth it unless you grow your own tomatoes. But this whole example shows us a number of things about the world we live in.

    1. To reduce a can/jar of sauce to the level where it costs less than what we can make it requires slave labor.

    2. We have had the means to making our own food stolen from us generations ago to make us dependent upon a system that only cares about making a profit and keeping us in the cycle of slavery.

    This is just a basic overview:

    Labor to grow and plant
    Labor to produce machines used for growing
    Labor used to produce the trucks that transport the tomatoes
    Labor to get the gas for the machines/trucks

    Generations and generations of labor to bring a basket of tomatoes to Safeway that cost $2.

  12. regeya says 20 September 2006 at 10:31

    Chalking time spent doing this up under the ‘only if your time is worthless’ tag makes sense only if you see a certain level of self-reliance as worthless. What happens if some foreign power decided to carpet-bomb Southern California? Eh?

  13. Phelan says 20 September 2006 at 10:38

    I will quote myself from the above article “Modern homesteading is not for everyone. Yet taking a few of these suggestions and applying them to your own life will make a significant difference on the way you view the world, and the impact on your wallet.”

    I have lived in the city, I grew up in the suburbs. And I am having a great day, thank you.

    I was asked to write about what I love to do, and in that spirit. And that’s what I did. I didn’t realize that it was my responsibility to debate myself and convince everyone that reads this to give up the city life. That was not the point to this essay, the point was how I save money and suggestions on how other’s might.

    Being compared to Hitler is rather interesting. Stalin wanted collectivization. I am sure neither one of us are so extreme. I never once said to over stock your apartment with anything.

    And I do have a paying job as does my husband. In the past few years we have raised our income significantly, but we still choose to live this way. Once again our choice. We do save a lot of money, as our grocery bills and a few other expenses have drop dramatically.

    Homesteading came to be in my life because of our struggles. I was feeding every one on that money, but it was tight. If I chose to, I can stop homesteading and live off only our income. But that is not my choice.

    • Joey says 11 May 2019 at 09:49

      Pay no attention to the brainwashed mobs, your article is great. I grew up in the mountains of North Georgia and was taught most of these skills throughout my childhood and on into adulthood. I have even decided to start a blog about the skills I have acquired over my lifetime. Thank you for the great article.

  14. Jenna fsr44 says 20 September 2006 at 10:44

    Value is not only measured in dollars and cents. A can of green beans is cheap. And they taste it. A (fully reusable) Mason jar of green beans you canned tastes so much better that it’s hard to believe they’re the same vegetable. If you don’t enjoy gardening and you don’t enjoy cooking, then the taste difference is probably of negligible value to you. That’s cool. But if you enjoy the time spent growing and canning your own food, that time adds to the value.
    So rather than economic value, the worth of some of these practices is measured in lifestyle value. That will, of course, differ for each person. But there’s another value at work, too. Call it “values” value…if it’s important to me (for example) to diminish the size of the footprint I leave on this earth (through consumption of natural resources, production of pollution etc.) then growing food in an organically sustainable way is worth more to me than saving either time or money. Saying someone could “find a better job” implies that time spent earning money is more valuable than time spent producing one’s basic needs. I don’t buy that. Take money out of the equation entirely for a moment. Money is a construct of man, not nature. What nature gives us is time, a finite lifetime, however long or short. It’s really the only valuable thing we have. We “sell” it by charging an hourly wage to do another’s bidding. Some of us may choose instead to spend that time on ourselves, producing what we need. And if we’re the kind of person who can fully live in the moment and enjoy that time spent growing and harvesting and cooking etc., then this lifestyle is at least as valid (and in my opinion, more valid) than a life spent exchanging hours for cash and cash for consumer goods.

  15. Matt says 20 September 2006 at 11:29

    Very cool! I want to try and do more of this. The savings would be great! Thanks!

  16. Daniel says 20 September 2006 at 11:32

    I’ve been growing a couple varieties of tomatoes and some herbs for a few years now, and making my own sauce with them, I trade with my neighbors for things like fresh or canned fruit (most of the houses in the neighborhood were built pre-WWII, so many have a sort of victory garden still), and most of the jars come back to me when they’re done, so all I need to typically buy are lids.

    After my initial investment in jars, and the occassional “restocking” of them, at well under a dollar each typically, and a regular investment in lids for about a dime each, I typically spend about $0.60 at most per bottle per batch, with the average being $0.15 to factor in the occassional lost jar.

    Time isn’t a factor since I already own the three greatest friends to any canner, a very powerful blender, a large stock pot (I steam jars in it this go round), and a large pressure cooker for making sauce in.
    I can clean, stem, blend and prep the pressure cooker with a batch during a commercial.
    Then clean, prep and steam a batch of jars during the next one.
    An extra large ladle helps out when it comes to canning, and I can usually jar up 12 jars during a commercial as well.

    And with sometimes overabundant growing seasons, I end up with more than enough sauce to last the year, even if I ate something with a red sauce every other day.

    Time just isn’t a factor, unless your uber lazy and actually enjoy watching commercials.

    I didn’t actually get into making “homestead” type products at home out of being frugal, I did it out of hating the quality most products in the stores turn out, 3 cheese spaghetti sauce, with no real cheese in it, rubbery bland mushrooms, and lumpy watery sauce, or yoghurt that was thickened with gelatine instead of denatured proteins, and I won’t even start on the horrific state of cheese in the US, I mean 8 inch bricks of caution orange coagulated gunk being passed off as Cheddar is… revolting, at best.

    But I do have to admit, making it at home, has given me much better quality than the stores supply, and has saved me a theoretical fortune (which would BE a fortune, had I not spent it elsewhere in my budget, hey I needed a new fly fishing rod).

  17. JR says 20 September 2006 at 13:20


    It is a fine article. Some people cannot see past thier own ignorance (comparisons to Nazis? Please) to read you statement that this is not for everyone.

    One thing I can guarantee you is that people like that will be the first to go when we have a “thinning of the herd” event.

    Look only to Katrina to see how dependent “city” people have become on others. Sitting around and die waiting for someone else to do something. Not smart.

  18. margeryk says 20 September 2006 at 15:31

    In reply to Joe Murphy, I would like to draw his attention to another form of homesteading that occured in the UK during 30s and early 40s: ‘Dig for Victory’.

    No matter what the historical context, countries need agriculture. It was not fair to focus on the Third Reich.

  19. Joe Murphy says 21 September 2006 at 04:00

    Btw people, get a cookbook by Marcella Hazan, the Godess of italian cooking. There you will find that proper pasta sauce doesn’t have herbs in it. Just tomatoes, an onion, and butter.

    The tomatoes need to be really nice and ripe, so unless you live in a very sunny country, there’s no point in growing them yourself. The canned ones from Italy will always taste superior to some self-grown ones from Norway (get the point?).

    So, if you don’t even have a good taste in food, why do you play the “improved lifestyle value” card? You don’t know what you’re talking about.

    Also, if you put olive oil in your tomato sauce, there’s no way to put grated parmesano cheese on top. Try it, and if you have some tastebuds left, you’ll notice why.

    I wasn’t comparing Phelan to Hitler (I explicitly said that even), and yet still he/she insists I did. That alone shows me that homesteaders foremostly have an attitude problem towards people who think more than them.

  20. Jenna fsr44 says 21 September 2006 at 05:48

    Joe, you make me laugh. First the Hitler thing. Then “You don’t know what you’re talking about” as the sum total of your argument (all the intellectual content of “I know you are but what am I?)” and now the two-fer of no herbs and no olive oil, allegedly on the authority of Marcella Hazan. The final ha ha is, of course, the concept that olive oil precludes the use of Parmesan cheese.
    Say what you want about my taste, but it so happens that I cook regularly from Marcella’s books. A quick flip through her “The Classic Italian Cookbook” reveals “Five Tomato Sauces for Spaghetti and Other Pasta”:
    Tomato Sauce I contains olive oil, fresh (not canned) tomatoes, no herbs
    Tomato Sauce II contains olive oil, fresh tomatoes, no herbs
    Tomato Sauce III contains your one opportunity to use butter, still fresh tomatoes, no herbs
    Tomato Sauce IV contains fresh tomatoes AND olive oil AND marjoram (that would be an herb) AND parmesan cheese
    Tomato Sauce V contains fresh tomatoes AND olive oil AND rosemary (sounds like another herb).

    After advising us to “get a cookbook”, might I advise you to read yours?

  21. Joe Murphy says 21 September 2006 at 06:26

    Okay Jenna, you think you’re a tough nut to crack, eh?

    “A quick flip through her “The Classic Italian Cookbook” reveals “Five Tomato Sauces for Spaghetti and Other Pasta”:
    Tomato Sauce I contains olive oil, fresh (not canned) tomatoes, no herbs
    Tomato Sauce II contains olive oil, fresh tomatoes, no herbs
    Tomato Sauce III contains your one opportunity to use butter, still fresh tomatoes, no herbs
    Tomato Sauce IV contains fresh tomatoes AND olive oil AND marjoram (that would be an herb) AND parmesan cheese
    Tomato Sauce V contains fresh tomatoes AND olive oil AND rosemary (sounds like another herb).”

    You leaving out the most important bits, because they would invalidate the point you are trying to get across.

    I have the exact same book as you, but in mine, she says “the favourite pasta sauce” of her’s and “most people she knows” is the very basic one without any olive oil. Right, that’s the one where you are allowed to put cheese onto.

    Why can’t you admit that on the olive oil-variants the recipe explicitly states no cheese has to be grated at any time? Who’s trying to manipulate people here (I am not saying you are the Joseph Goebbels of cookbook-offs btw.) ???

    The recipes with herbs are all stuck in the back of that book, and it feels like Marcella just included them so those arrogant homesteaders have an excuse to grow their own stupid ‘erbs.

    That all proves my point, that is homesteading is unamerican and plays to the leftofascist, latte-sipping agenda.

  22. dana says 21 September 2006 at 06:33

    i really don’t see what the big deal is. one can simply take from the suggestions made here as a starting point as it suits your life. it wasn’t so long ago that people were rushing out to buy breadmakers and pasta machines because it was the *hip* thing to do. it wasn’t called homesteading. there still a strong trend/movement of people who home brew beer. how’s that any different?
    reusing things creatively stretches out its purpose rather than immediately disposing it as waste (there’s more than enough of that going on).
    and many of phelan’s suggestions of making wine, your own cheeses, pasta and sauces, etc are part of italian culture, like grandma used to make it.
    i applaud phelan for following her passions.

  23. J.D. says 21 September 2006 at 07:35

    Homesteading and simple living are ideas espoused by people of varied political persuasions, from radical liberals to staunch conservatives. Living off the land cuts across party lines and religious affiliations.

    I have some conservative Christian cousins who do their best to live off the land, growing their own food and meat, making everything they can. I know progressive liberals who try something similar in the middle of the city. This is not a political issue, and to frame it as such does a disservice to the hard-working men and women who are trying to make this work.

    Nobody is trying to convert anyone else to homesteading. Nobody is saying this is the only moral choice. But it is one choice, and a good one. DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU and don’t demonize others for making different choices.

    I’ve removed a couple of personal attacks. Keep it civil, folks.

  24. Jenna fsr44 says 21 September 2006 at 08:52

    JD, thank you for removing the personal attacks. Fortunately, I didn’t read it, but a friend who did let me know about the exceedingly creepy nature of the response. In an abundance of caution, I will not be responding further here. A discussion of homesteading is really not important enough for me to have someone tracking me all over the internet. Too bad an otherwise civil discussion was brought down by one disturbed poster.

  25. peaseblossom says 21 September 2006 at 14:45

    I’m baffled at how the idea of learning how to grow/can/make your own food can be “try[ing] to live the lifestyle of a poor man” or, worse, “unamerican and plays to the leftofascist, latte-sipping agenda.” It implies that success (and being a ‘Real American’) = wastefulness and conspicuous consumption.

    Indeed, I recall seeing an awful lot of American flyers and posters from the WWII era encouraging people to grow and make their own stuff, (examples: one, two, and three). You want to continue to call it “unamerican”? Go right ahead; but I fail to see what leg you have to stand on.

    And as far as–what was it again?–“Leftofascist, latte-sipping agenda”? What does that even mean? Isn’t the latte-sipping agenda to, oh I don’t know, sip lattes? Are you suggesting that people who take the remotest interest in even minor homesteading are rich snobs? This confuses me, because it sounds to me like spending way too much money for espresso with milk and air bubbles would me something you’re much more interested in than any homesteader might be. After all, you certainly seem to base your argument on the idea of “make more, spend more”.

    And really, the comparison to Hitler is laughable at best. Just because Hitler did something does not in and of itself make it a bad thing. I bet Hitler brushed his teeth before going to bed at night, and slept at least 8 hours a day, and ate bread and drank water. Does that mean we shouldn’t?

    Look, if you don’t want to make stuff, by all means, don’t make stuff. If you honestly want to believe that tomatoes are a communist fruit (hell, they are red!) and that you’re being a good American by earning, spending, and wasting, nobody’s holding a gun to your head. But don’t be so arrogant and presumptive as to think that we all should agree with you.

  26. gizo says 21 September 2006 at 21:43

    Wow. Good article Phelan, great comments everyone, well done.
    You know, I reckon that if you went to Italy, you’d find that different regions would tell you that their recipes are the best ever.

  27. Joe Murphy says 22 September 2006 at 02:56


    apologies if you feel stalked or whatever, I was just trying to be funny saying you’re marriage material (actually I live on another continent and have no plans to come to the US anytime soon). But when you say

    “A discussion of homesteading is really not important enough for me to have someone tracking me all over the internet.”

    – that made me laugh because if you would like to stay anonymous, the first basic rule is to NOT POST YOUR website’s URL in your nickname on some blog.

    And to the other guys who blame me for saying homesteading is being like Hitler – please buy some glasses and re-read my postings where I am EXPLICTLY stating that exactly that’s not what I am doing. I have no idea how I could make myself any clearer.

    Back to the subject – homesteading is definitely a fun thing to do and has lots of positive effects on yourself and the world you live in, my point is just that if you have to rely on homesteading to be able to feed your children, then it becomes a bad thing. Especially if you recommend people living in the city to live this way.

    If you live in a rural area and have a good, clean soil then why not grow some food yourself, merely because it’s fresher and tastes better. But please don’t use this as an excuse to point the finger on people and say “everybody who has a well-paid job is hurting the environment”.

    I am just not convinced that financial problems should be tackled by lowering your standards and pretending it’s for a good cause.

    This attitude transported to the large scale would mean we should back to the middle ages – an antimodern attitude that in fact was one of the big talking points of the Nazis.

  28. Daniel says 22 September 2006 at 09:06

    Since when does a red sauce automatically become Italian?

  29. David B. says 22 September 2006 at 11:54

    What a strange turn this discussion of homesteading has taken. Think of all the knowledge that was taken for granted by previous generations about plants, trees, the weather, cooking your own food that has been lost in the last 70 years.

    To me homesteading or taking some of the principles of homesteading is away to self reliance which to me equates to self fulfillment, regardless of monetary cost. Self reliance is above time or money in importace to me.

    The mention of Hitler and their philosophues, whether as comparison or not, is ridiculous and frankly automatically put Joe Murphy in the Internet Bully/Crackpot camp for me. Someone who hides in the anoymity of the Internet and fancies himself a great intellectual, when in reality he is not.

    I think this was a great beginner article that tells one persons story very well.

  30. Joe Murphy says 23 September 2006 at 00:24

    In response to David:

    “What a strange turn this discussion of homesteading has taken. Think of all the knowledge that was taken for granted by previous generations about plants, trees, the weather, cooking your own food that has been lost in the last 70 years.”

    Has it really been lost? That is a statement easily made but actually it is as far from being true as they come. This knowledge is not lost. You will find thousands of books about homesteading “the old way”, there are courses at your local evening university, heck, even regular universities teach this. If you would like to learn about how to become a farmer, you will have to spend plenty of years of learning, and most of the subjects haven’t changed for hundreds of years. A cow is a cow.

    So David, you too are portraying this antimodern attitude that can lead to a lot of evil things.

    “To me homesteading or taking some of the principles of homesteading is away to self reliance which to me equates to self fulfillment, regardless of monetary cost. Self reliance is above time or money in importace to me.”

    That’s fine, because this means you’re doing it for fun, not because you have no money.

    “The mention of Hitler and their philosophues, whether as comparison or not, is ridiculous and frankly automatically put Joe Murphy in the Internet Bully/Crackpot camp for me. Someone who hides in the anoymity of the Internet and fancies himself a great intellectual, when in reality he is not.”

    So what, David says I am not an intellectual. Anyway – now even the MENTION of the Nazis is too much for this crowd? In what bubble are you people living? It must be nice and pink.

    “I think this was a great beginner article that tells one persons story very well. ”

    If it had not basically said that we should stop striving and live like poor people, it would have been ok.

  31. scott says 25 September 2006 at 17:41

    To Phelan, You are on the right track and keep living the quality life style, And as for Joe well you shouldnt focus so much on the sauce but the spice in life.

  32. Teri Pittman says 06 October 2006 at 16:54

    There is one other thing missing here. It involves memories. If I work for a living and I buy that can of corn, what memories do I have? Spending 8 hours at a desk? Standing in line at the grocery store?

    On the other hand, let’s say that I planted corn. And, when I harvest it, I can it. When I look at that can, I see the time I spent growing that corn. I think of being outside in the sun. I think of being in the house, cutting the corn from the cob and canning jar after jar. I think of those things when I open the jar again to cook it and serve it.

    When we buy food at the store, we have no connection to it. We are just consumers. When we take the time to process it ourselves, we become part of the process. We are growing and preserving food to provide sustenance for ourselves and our family. That’s worth something to some folks.

  33. scott says 10 October 2006 at 13:40

    That is the spice in life, Im gald there are some people who still get it.

  34. Karen says 12 October 2006 at 12:39

    hmmm…time aside…let’s think about all of the outbreaks as of recent with crops grown commercially. That right there is enough to make me seriouslty think about growing my own crops…at least I know what is used on them. Thanks for the article !!

  35. Talina says 21 October 2006 at 20:45

    We are experimenting with canning and rain water harvesting here in our city residence. It works for us. We were initially interested in these topics because we wanted more say in how our foods were treated/ processed. We like the idea of self sufficiency and of controlling most of what we eat. This is not for everyone, but we like it. We enjoyed the information your blog had to offer!

  36. Tom says 01 January 2007 at 22:14


    I see that you’ve not read up on the dangers of GMO food, canned (as in ‘metal’) foods found in stores, and all the sprays and waxes (wonder why fruit and vegetables are so shiny on display?). Buying canned fruit and vegetables is a dangerous way of grocery shopping, if you ask me. What happens is bits of metal are consumed along with the food, which the body absorbs. There is a strong link between diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease, and the metals found in cans. Also, fruits and vegetables found in grocery stores (unless you are shopping for the expensive ‘organic’ varieties) are completely unnatural, often un-ripe and nearly completely lacking in nutrients (don’t believe the labels). Try growing a garden, you will see a HUGE difference in taste, and your pockets will surely appreciate the savings!

  37. nikita says 02 January 2007 at 09:11

    This just shows you how many people are really living in the past, and I am not talking about the writer of this article. Homesteaders are not old fashioned or behind the times. This lifestyle is the future! And if you have ever lived through a period in your life with a emergency, that took all your money, and you could not get food, you’d know what I am talking about. If you are canning and storing food that you have grown or bought on sale, then you never have to worry about where the next meal is coming from.

    People in the cities, what would you do if the truckers went on strike or could not get food to your stores? Look for help from someone else? Maybe a homesteader would help you….

  38. Parzifal Odinson says 01 February 2007 at 22:31

    I myself am planning a home stead I nowwork in Toronto ,”blech” but have a chunk of rual nova scotia waiting for me..

    Its really exciting ..I wish I was there now!

    Your blog is a VERY huge aid to my sanity..I will be reading it alot now.



  39. steve says 15 February 2007 at 15:46

    As a young boy growing up on a small farm, I milked cows fed livestock and tended our crops and garden. While my father worked outside the home I felt like an important part of the family by doing my part to produce our food. We canned our vegetables and stored potatoes in the basement, along with butchering a few hogs. Unnecessary? Maybe, but I continued this into my adult life and have raised my 5 children. From my meager beginnings we have accumilated quit a bit and with a lot of self satisfaction. Keep at it! Steve

  40. Ripley says 24 February 2007 at 19:01

    Joe Smurphy,
    There’s obviously a reason you’re on this blog. You’re the nazi here buddy. God bless you brother!!

  41. DBabbit says 04 March 2007 at 18:02

    FIRST – Since when is homesteading – which is really a return to farming – nazi-ism??

    SECOND – When someone says they are “canning” their food, it means they’re using glass jars, not aluminum cans.

    I was one of 4, raised on a farm. We raised our own vegetables, our own livestock for meat, chickens for eggs. My mother did not work. We never lacked for anything and we lived in a beautiful 12 room brick home my father built with his own hands. We were not “poor.” We never went hungry, or without clothing.

    THIRD – and this is for the smurf – what makes you the authority figure here to insult anyone’s way of life? You’re living in the big city – and you think it’s healthy to eat store bought food – that is loaded with chemicals, processed in a plant crawling with rats, where the fresh vegetables you pick up are shipped to that store green and has been gassed to make it ripen up. Phelan did NOT suggest that YOU, PERSONALLY, take up homesteading. What ht/she suggested was “Modern homesteading is a great way to save some of your hard-earned cash. That is if you are not afraid of a little hard work and waking before the rooster…Modern homesteading is not for everyone. Yet taking a few of these suggestions and applying them to your own life will make a significant difference on the way you view the world, and the impact on your wallet.”

    Thank you Phelan. This was an excellent article and I applaude your efforts!

  42. Mike says 13 March 2007 at 20:54

    Yeah, and vegetarianism should be illegal because Hitler was one. Right?

    This country would benefit immensely from a similar program to Hitler’s “Luddite/agrarian back-to-the-land” philosophy. The majority of farmers in the USA are over the age of 55, and failing miserably in an industrialized food production model that keeps them miserably in debt trying to make a living from 10 sections of land, which is more than any man can manage properly. It’s unhealthy, unsustainable, and just plain produces inferior food.

    When the cities go down in flames, Joe Murphy will be one of the first to run for the country. He’ll probably be shot by a homesteader for trying to steal food. But that’s okay. To each his own.

  43. Ginny says 21 April 2007 at 09:47

    First, I want to say what a great article this is. I applaud the author for homesteading. This is something that I am very interested in and am trying to start, bit by bit. I am planting a garden this year and will try canning as much as I can. I also would like to try dehydrating some of what I grow, especially herbs and strawberries. I would love to have a few chickens, but I’m pretty sure my HOA wouldn’t allow that, so it’ll have to wait until we can move out of town. A cow or two would be nice, too. I love fresh milk and would like to make my own kefir, yogurt and cheese.

    Second, I find it funny that one of the posters on here thinks it’s ok for someone to do this if they are doing it for fun, but not ok if you are doing it because you are poor and need to grow food. Hmm… WHAT? It’s sad that such a good article cause this kind of reaction.

  44. Hank Venture says 29 April 2007 at 23:15

    I’m not sure I agree with the position that this is a money saver. Yes you aren’t spending money at the store to buy a can of corn or pasta sauce. But if you look at the amount of time and effort put into this I think you’ll see that it is in fact not saving you anything. You have to go out and prepare the land, plant the seeds, make sure its watered, weed it, make sure there aren’t any insects enjoying your hard work, harvesting it, preparing the sauce, and finally canning it. I think you’ll find that for each can of food you put away you’ve spent several hours of time working. If you were to have gone out and even worked a minimum wage job you’d have made enough money to have bought several times the amount of food and still had money left over to spend on something else.

    If you’re doing this because you enjoy gardening, then great! Your hobby is also producing something you can eat. Also if you’re doing this because you gain a certain satisfaction in producing your own food, thats also great!

    I just don’t think that “saving money” should be one of the main selling points here.

  45. Tracy Richardson says 24 May 2007 at 21:00

    Many of us don’t stop to count the cost of eating cheap vegetables that are processed to the point of non-nutrition. Yes, the ones you buy frozen or in a can may be cheaper in the short run, but many people will possibly pay in the long run with poor health and higher medical bills. If you can’t afford the time now to grow your own, will you be able to afford the time to be sick later on?

  46. Larisa Townsend says 30 July 2007 at 05:42

    I have greatly enjoyed this article. My husband and I are currently researching homesteading and the like. It has been on my heart to be more self sufficient ever since 9/11. I am not one that waits until something happens in order to be prepared. I have been through a major hurricane with no power, water, services for over a month. That in itself is reason enough for me to be prepared. Luckily, at the time we had lots of things frozen and we ate like kings b/c everyone was trying to get rid of their shrimp (which can be freshley caught here), beef, etc before it went bad.

    To me, homesteading it isn’t about the money, we make more than most. Personally I don’t really like to garden but I am pretty good at it and my husband is a horticulturist so we should do splendidly. And Joe, yes homesteading information is in books all over, however, it sure would have been nice if I didn’t have to do the research because I was taught by my parents then I could spend my time getting my garden and such ready and running. There will eventually be another culling of people and I don’t intend on being one of them. And besides, I used to run an apple orchard and homegrown food has no comparison to what is offered in the store. I have eaten 1/2 of an apple since I left he orchard(16 years ago) and it had absolutely no flavor. I also have 2 growing children who are developing way faster than they should because of all of the hormones that are fed to our cows and chickens. We have gone to fresh goat milk, fresh eggs (we’re getting our own chickens soon) and heading towards getting our beef from a local farm. Thinking back on it, since we started doing this, no one in my family has made a trip to the doctor (over 2 years ago). There is a difference between being a farmer who supplies to the local grocier or nationally and one that is doing it to be self sufficient. It isn’t a full time job. I have too many other things I like to do. I will be checking back for more information. Your article is greatly appreciated. Thanks!! Larisa, Charleston, SC

  47. Jim D says 24 August 2007 at 12:21

    I spend 40 to 50 hours a week sitting in front of a PC earning a living. I would much rather spend 40 to 50 hours a week at home being self sufficient.

  48. Mike T says 28 August 2007 at 01:02

    Hi, I’ve been interested in canning for a while now because I live in a country where the power isn’t dependable. We have the start of a small farm where we are raising some pigs. The problem is we may butcher a pig and have 80Kg of meat which needs to be frozen, big problem when we have a typhoon and the power is out for 3 days. Also when the veggies are harvested? I wondering has anyone canned an entire pig? How many jars do you pro canners keep in a pantry? I find this all very interesting. Thanks for any info.

  49. Phelan says 05 September 2007 at 14:08

    Mike, if you are looking for a way to keep pork without freezing, look into dry curing. Sorry to outlink JD. 😀

    I can’t really tell you how many cans I keep, we add more every year, depending on harvest.

    It has been a year since I first wrote this. I have learned so many new things in that time.

  50. Mike T says 05 September 2007 at 14:49

    Thanks I will. Also sorry to outlink JD. When I read about him spending so much time on the computer it made me think of my old life in the states where I worked for 70 to 80 hours a week at 2 jobs on the computer building robots. My caffeine intake was out of control, 6 cups of coffee and 1 gallon of Pepsi everyday. I got so burned out. I went on vacation to some property I have in the Philippines and just never went back. So I became so inspired when I read about JD working with computers and being able to homestead. I thought maybe I can do it to. I was thinking a person would have to be a member of FFA from birth and have 3 generations of farmers behind them to do such a thing.
    Ok. What are some easy things to plant for starters? The water buffalos are plowing the land as we speak? Thanks everyone.

  51. Phelan says 05 September 2007 at 15:07

    Sorry Mike, I won’t be able to help you on that one. We live in two very different places. Your best bet is to do a little research of the area, talk to others, to find out what grows best. I would start with what you like to eat, then slowly expand it to other food stuff, that you only “kinda” like. Sometimes your tastes can change when you grow it yourself. Good luck and feel free to drop by my blog with any questions as well.

  52. Laura says 08 September 2007 at 16:51

    I just spent the last 20 years supporting myself by working for accounting, then law firms. As a result of the 50-65 hour weeks I worked, I had to pay someone else to clean my house, cook my food (Takeout Queen) and clean and press my clothes. Otherwise all of my free time would have been spent doing these things and not being with friends.
    So one day in May I just up and quit my job as a fancy city lawyer. I was depressed (to the point of therapy and medication), overweight, stressed out, and completely disillusioned with my life.
    I spent three months thinking about what I wanted to do with my life. I thought of the purposeful life my grandparents lived on their farm. They grew their own vegetables, hunted their meat, and took vacations by camping. My grandfather supplemented their needs by working part-time at a pharmacy. My grandfather lived to be 83 (lung cancer from earlier smoking) and my grandmother lived to be 97 (just wore out–never sick with any disease). They were physically active by doing their farm chores, and the food was fresh and organic (before that was popular). Their portion sizes were the correct amount, not like today’s glutinous portions. And they were relaxed and knew how to have fun doing the simple stuff like fishing and playing board games.
    In 4 weeks, I am leaving the city and moving to my sister’s 40-acre farm. She and her husband have lived there a year and are amateur farmers–a few laying hens, pigs and cows, and a kitchen garden. She doesn’t know it yet, but I’m planning to turn their property into a homestead (for them and me). I don’t want to go back to work in an office again!
    So if you LIKE your job and don’t mind eating store-bought foods and living the typical American lifestyle, then, fine–to each his own. But understand that many folks (and one day, maybe you, too!) have become disillusioned with the consumer-oriented lifestyle and need to get back to the earth for both their physical and mental health.

  53. Ruth says 07 December 2007 at 17:48

    I moved out of the city a couple of years ago and now live on a small farm where I grow my own food as well as raise chickens & geese for eggs. I don’t buy canned vegetables or tv dinners because I don’t believe these contain much nutritional value or unique nutrients.
    I get my daily workout on the farm — not a gym.
    The one thing I love about living in the country is being far enough away from processed foods and traffic noise. After reading a couple of books on body language, the authors point out the fact that having enough ‘space’ enhances our well being.

  54. Jess&Rob says 24 March 2008 at 19:59

    My husband and I currently live in the country and are starting to prepare to add to our family. Saving money has always been important and I have always been around farming. I guess my biggest question for everyone who is currently doing this is – where do you start? What are the basics that my husband and I should start with and build from there? Any help that you have would be great and very much appreciated. Thanks!

  55. Phelan says 25 March 2008 at 05:21

    Jess & Rob,

    Gardening and raising chickens are the easiest, or so I am still discovering. Those two items are what I started with. From there my garden grew larger and so did my goals. Now we have milking cows and will have bees shortly.

    Reading everything you get your hands on is important. The books and blogs can help you understand some of the things that go into each project.

    Try to go slowly, baby steps if you will. Each new project will be time intensive, until you get it down. You don’t want to get overwhelmed with too many things. Sit down and discuss what your long terms goal is, then your short goals that can help you get there. Try to stick with those plans, but don’t pass up good deals if you happen to stumble upon them, just be sure to rearrange your goals.

    Adding children into the mix is a whole new experince. With infants you have to learn to rearange your day around them and your livestock. If you don’t have any yet, then chickens or other poultry will be the simplest with infants. As your children get older, more things can happen.

    I have no idea if I answered your question. Feel free to continue to ask questions here or on my blog. I will do my best to help. And congrats on your family addition.

  56. saundra says 25 April 2008 at 08:49

    I am very interested in some of the aspects of homesteading. If I were younger I would go for it 100 percent. But I’ve waited to long. I do have a garden planted this year and will learn how to can my own vegetables.
    The homesteading lifestyle is one that a person has to choose. No one is forcing it on anyone else. I don’t understand the disagreements. If it’s not for you then don’t do it. Personally, this lifestyle has always appealed to me but I let convenience get in the way of my true feelings many years ago. I will go as far as I can with it.

  57. Mike says 15 May 2008 at 17:45

    I would would just like to say THANKYOU. I’ve got some of the best advice of my life about a year ago from someone on this site. I Am a US citizen and live in the Philippines. I have a small farm in the mountains, very hilly. My question to the site was (what should I plant to make some money. The answer I got was (check with your neighbors and ask whats good). So I did. Come to find out my farm is located in one of the few areas that has the special soil needed to grow loya (ginger). It produces about 20,000 lbs an acre and sells for $.60 a pound. I still cant believe it. Thanks again for the advice.

  58. Brian McGrath says 04 July 2008 at 11:43

    Thank you for sharing a bit of your lifestyle. It’s disappointing to read the comments from those who look for a monetary justification for these activities.

    If you’re safe and spending time learning and working with your family and friends to produce healthy foods for the future, and you’re mentally figuring your $avings/hour worked, then I think you need to re-evaluate.

    I played some touch football with my friends last weekend … had a great time … our team made four touchdowns! …but I don’t understand it … my return on investment was negative. How can that be?

    On the other hand, if you need money for your mother’s surgery, making your own pasta is probably not the way to go 🙂

  59. Brent says 04 August 2008 at 05:45

    This article was written in 2006….fast forward two years. My question for the critics of Phelan’s article, “Is homesteading more of an economic choice now that food has risen 22% in the past year?” While we will always be interdependent of others for some things, there is no reason why we can’t be more independent in producing our own food. Gardening and Livestock just might be more fun than you think! I agree in 2006, we could have saved money by buying all at the store. But between fuel and rising food prices, in 2008, we figure to save $100 per family member by growing our own.

  60. Sue says 13 August 2008 at 14:41

    I love what you said about urban homesteading. My husband and I were urban homesteaders for years before we finally got our five acres. It is definitely more a frame of mind rather than the amount of space you own.

  61. Kent says 19 August 2008 at 12:13

    I have been interested in the homesteading idea for about 5 years now. I have read every book available. what needs to be understood here about doing things yourself is this.
    1. Doing things yourself is a life long learning experience. learning new things not only makes you more marketable for future employment, but learning new things creats new nerve endings in your brain which help fight Altzhimers and mental degeneration.
    2.being free to depend on yourself and not others for your food, clothing, and home repair is a good feeling and can save alot of money or actually put more money in your pocket. by selling items you have produced.
    3. just because you are homesteading dose not mean you need to live in “poverty”. the really wealth in this world live at or below their means. they don’t use credit cards unless they have the cash already. plus there are alot of things people can do without and would actually be better for it if they did.
    3 what are your priorities in life. I like to do things worth while or read instead of watching TV, playing video games, surfing the net, or buying things that I am challenged to make myself.

    There are things you should just buy instead of making yourself. and budget your time to things that really save you money or make you money. spend time making money on your homestead and items that are easy for you to do should be done and buy the rest. Time is short live life and enjoy it.

  62. DBabbit says 24 August 2008 at 22:40

    I can’t believe this topic is 2 years old and it’s still going! 😀 Shows how popular homesteading can be. I am a farmer’s daughter – and proud as heck of my little plot of land. First things first – there’s the garden, then the chickens, the goats, a pig for the freezer, and a cow or two to raise for the market. Starting in the spring, when the prices go back up, at the going rate, 10 calves in 6 months will net you – eh, I mean me – around $5000 after feed & milk replacer. With twice a day feeding for 3 weeks, and then letting them graze for 6 months, I think I’ll make my money back then some – and have more than what I spend in a year on household living expenses.

    Mother Earth News has some great articles on homesteading and even better articles on gardening without working yourself to death – try row crop covers to protect your gardens. Just make sure you uncover your plants when the bees are pollinating.

    Canning – keep your glass jars, use them and paraffin wax for sealing jelly.

    Find a farmer if you’re looking for advice. They are a fount of knowledge, and you should take advantage of it. They can tell you the growing dates for the vegetables you plant.

    Find a freecycle group. More than likely, you will eventually find someone who will be glad to part with stuff you need or want.

    See you at the livestock auction! 😀

  63. Steff says 16 January 2009 at 09:31

    My husband and I would love to be Homesteading but instead we are stuck paying off our cars and mortgage right now. I am amused that there are those that think canning and gardening aren’t “worth the time”. My mother said the same thing for years now she hits me up for canned veggies. fruit and meats.

    I started canning a few years ago and while we do not have much of a yard we are able to do “square foot gardening” and have quite a haul to process for the shelves and freezer. Canning is more than just saving a buck or two it is about growing healthy foods that you know have been grown to your standards.

    We live in town and have a 13 year old daughter. While she doesn’t like to garden herself, but does help, she tastes the difference between what we eat and what she eats at her friends houses. We also hunt and fish and never have a shotr supply of healthy foods that just can’t be bought without paying a huge price at the grocery.

    I purchased some of my canning jars new and some at yard sales. The seals are the only thing I buy new. It costs me less than a dollar to make fresh jams and jellies verses over three dollars to buy at the store. That is a big savings for us. Sauces, wow! I save a bundle each year.

    What do I do for a living? I am a photographer and I schedule my gardening around my work and other household chores. I am not “crafty” but I do recycle and use what we have to redecorate. We tend to refurbish a lot. I guess that there are those that will always be content to live in big cities but I have done that. I’ve lived all over the world and was happiest in places that were rural. We will get our land in the next few years, How? By living our homesteading lifestyle in the city and putting our money into land and being good fruigle. Don’t get me wrong, there are somethings that we will splurge on but it usually comes from a really good sale or it might be second hand.

    In a nation driven by consumerism we really need to take a step back and realize what we are teaching our children. We need to be more healthy and we need to be able to sustain.

  64. Jen says 25 April 2009 at 19:45

    The things you listed about urban homesteading are spot on. There are a lot of urban homesteaders in my area. It is impressive what can be grown in a small area. We do raised beds and container planting. My elderly neighbor taught me how to can and make jam. It is a lot of work but I am hooked. I love the reward of eating something I grew and preserved. It tastes better than the store bought can. This year we plan to get chickens as it is allowed in our city. We thought we would be the only ones to have them but it turns out that the homesteading movement is catching on with folks. Our local farm market is also expanding this year because the demand has skyrocketed for local and organically grown foods. Yes, it takes up a bit of our time but we have gained so much. We learned we can do more for ourselves and that the things we used to fill our time with were not as productive or meaningful. We have also met more people in our community because of our new found interests. It has brought people in our community closer together. We started by simply trying save some money but we have ended up with a richer quality of life.

  65. GreenLiving says 06 August 2009 at 11:24

    Are you trading in your cul-de-sac for a cabin? Or just tossing the kids’ toys as you plan to downsize from a McMansion to a city-based rowhome? A prominent television production company is developing a series profiling families opting to trade in their status quo lifestyles for something more intentional and/or unusual. If you fit this bill, we’d love to hear from you.

  66. Rooster Shamblin says 29 January 2010 at 12:14 please take a few minutes of your time and read my chicken blog. I have been raising 50 breeds of chickens for 40 years.

  67. Diedra B says 07 November 2011 at 08:05

    I like the wooden toys suggestion. . . I read elsewhere that a 2×4 cut up and sanded down can entertain a small child to no end.

    I live in the Bronx and rent from a family member who has a backyard. Last year she dug up the lawn for 2 years planted vegetables and a fruit tree.

    It was great exercise and stress reduction for a working retiree. Add to that she was able to have an organic salad pretty much any time she liked. I hope to introduce her to canning so she can preserve things for the winter.

    Creating community gardens out of vacant lots is a project our Parks Department has been working on. That means people who don’t have backyards can still benefit from a garden. This is a wonderful thing especially in food deserts. It’s easy to assume everyone can drive/ride to a store and pick up some organic produce. The reality is that many people in my city cannot afford the transportation on a regular basis to places where those products are sold(far beyond their neighborhoods). Furthermore, some companies(like Fresh Direct) just will not deliver to certain areas. Finally, what is available in some stores in poorer areas looks barely good enough to sell. This is a more frightening prospect in some places. Ever heard of exploding watermelons in China? Some Chinese people have turned to CSAs because they feel they cannot trust the agricultural industry to put quality over quantity.

    To me, homesteading is an opportunity for us to take control and make better foods and products available for ourselves rather than rely on what others think is good enough.

  68. John says 18 June 2013 at 19:37

    Thanks for the great article! One thing that is being left out of the discussion is that there are more places to get canning jars than just brand new at the store. Your grandmother might have some she no longer uses (they last forever), or you might pick them up at a garage sale or auction. My mother carefully chose jars from products she had purchased at stores or farmers markets. Some can be reused, some can’t. Lids are cheap. Bands are reusable.
    Gardening is bearing witness to a miracle, a miracle without which all your toil is worth nothing.

  69. Michelle says 25 July 2013 at 15:53

    Homesteading will save you money… if you are able to cut out your utility bills – water and electricity and cable. And with the TV and computer off you may find you have more time to make yogurt, can veggies and stuff like that…. if you want to.

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