An Urban Conversion series that spotlights life in the city; engaging directly with nature, growing your own food and striving for self-sufficiency.
Urban farming sits at the intersection of city living and small-time subsistence farming, ranging from balcony container gardens to small-scale grain production. Urban homesteading is about creating a simpler way of life founded on self-reliant living. Our preparedness comes not so much through what we have, but what we know and what we can teach each other. We are recollecting the dwindling knowledge of those who took care of the land before us – the most essential of human skill sets: how to tend to plants, how to tend to animals, and how to tend ourselves.
Our philosophy of urban homesteading preaches self-sufficiency. We believe that people can make the best of living in the city by creating sustainability-minded communities to share information, barter, build skills and form the conditions and networks that can sustain ourselves, our families, friends and neighbors, now and into the future.
Even though we may be living in the city, we have a great opportunity to engage directly with nature by growing our own food, raising farm animals and striving for a sustainable lifestyle. Today’s urban and suburban communities are less isolated than rural farms and still we are able to build wildly self-sustaining habitats by making better use of our small landscape, by planting gardens instead of relying on the consumptive use of lawns and non-edible plants. The single family dwelling with its defensive swath of front lawn and hidden backyard, the basic measure of the American Dream, happens to be the perfect mini-farm. We have a vision of cities greened not by lawns, but by crops, thousands of city gardens collectively forming vast tracts of urban acreage.
Efforts rooted in survival and community building, like the recent initiatives in Detroit and L.A., emphasize how the power of urban gardens can build up and revitalize depressed communities. Not only do these gardens provide fresh produce to these impoverished neighborhoods but also new bonds are formed between neighbors who may meet for the first time, while digging, planting and harvesting together in their community garden. Communal gardening increases our connection to people, the land and extended communities while creating a better future for the next generation.
We’ve discovered that anything we figure out how to do ourselves tastes better than what the chain super markets offers us. We can make our own yogurt, pickle everything worth the bite, dry our own produce, forage for fruit, bake bread, make pasta, catch, fillet, and smoke fish – the list goes on and on. Yes, it is a green way to live, it is a prepared way to live, it has many virtues, but frankly, it is a pleasure that inspires us to do more and more. Get into this movement just a little, and you’ll soon realize that all of your life you’ve been cheated. Urban homesteading is not about deprivation or suffering, it is about reclaiming your heritage, and your right to real food and real experience.
Anyone can be an urban homesteader, even if you live in an apartment. You can grow more food than you think in a small space. Nowhere to plant or keep your own bees? Use a rooftop, community garden plot, or claim land and become a pirate gardener. Opportunity abounds – even for those of us in the dense metropolitan core.
Together, we will dig into some of our more developed ideas; how to keep bees in your sustainable garden, chickens in their reclaimed coops and how to build up a depressed urban community, one city block at a time. Through step-by-step projects and practical advice, we at Urban Conversion will make a homesteader out of you in no time – we promise!
Written by Urban Conversion contributor, Lori Fuqua Gregory.
Other articles written by Lori Fuqua Gregory:
UC Celebrating Arbor Day