Modern Homesteading

Words by Charlotte Neilson

Not all of us can rear our own sheep or create a floor rug from the fleece of our own livestock; however the great thing about homesteading is that it can easily be scaled down from an agricultural setting to suit small suburban blocks or even apartment living.

Here are some ways you can live more of a homesteader’s life:

1. Grow something edible.
Growing food is an essential skill for anyone wanting to improve nutrition and the provenance of the food they eat. Replace a patch of lawn with a productive vegetable patch, a bed of tomatoes or set up some pots of herbs to enhance your cooking. The biggest mistake people make when establishing edible gardens is that they pick a spot which lacks enough sun. Don’t tuck it away in a shadowy corner or down the back of the yard where you rarely go. Give your patch pride of place, where you can monitor and appreciate its progress on a daily basis. Your garden will reward you handsomely.

2. Put something aside.
Preserving is not all about making jam (although jam is a great start). Dehydrating a box of mangoes when in season can be an excellent way of adding healthy treats to lunch boxes in winter. Pickle some cucumbers or add a bit of spice to your life with a batch of kimchi. The health benefits of fermented foods have been well documented by nutritionists.

3. Barter.
Obtaining the things that you need in life doesn’t always mean you have to participate in the commerce economy. Engaging in the traditional art of trading can be a lot of fun as well as being a more efficient way to spread resources. There are produce swap groups easily found on Facebook who meet regularly to swap their harvest with others. If you can’t find one in your area, you could just swap some of your own abundance with that of a friend. If you don’t have the space to keep chickens, find someone who does and arrange to swap some baking or an hour of weed pulling for a dozen free range eggs. No need to decipher the semantics of egg marketing to understand how your breakfast was produced.



4. Compost your waste.
Don’t throw away your green waste – it is a valuable resource. There is a wide range of compost systems available for whatever your situation. Worm farms don’t take up a great deal of space and apartment dwellers can even purchase counter-top systems. This also keeps your green waste from going into landfill, where it converts to methane and other gases as it decomposes.

5. Bake something.
Baking a loaf of bread from scratch is not as scary as it seems. There is no magic, just chemistry. Follow the instructions and your house will be filled with the scent of baking bread in no time. The added benefit of being elbow deep in flour is that it physically stops you from reaching for your phone. Same can be said for gardening and dirt.

6. Fix or re-purpose something.
Sadly in our disposable society we tend to throw away items that are past their prime because it is so easy to get a replacement. Next time you wear through the sole of a shoe or snap a handbag strap, investigate whether it can be mended. Ask yourself whether you are happy for the item to go to landfill. Simply giving to charity shops does not remove this burden. Charities don’t have the funds to repair items to sell so if you aren’t willing to invest in getting the item mended then it will end up at the tip.

7. Give handmade gifts.
People are often reticent about giving something they have made themselves because they are concerned about looking cheap or are worried about quality. So start small. Handmade items are perfect for small thank you tokens. Once you start getting feedback from recipients you will soon learn what people like and get a feel for how the things you produce are valued and this will help build your confidence. The added bonus when you have a stack of handmade soap, pickles or homebrew on hand is that it will save you the last minute hassle (and expense) of buying a last minute gift before heading over to a friends house.

This article was originally published in Issue 2, Audrey Daybook – Gratitude & Mindfulness.