Even city dwellers sometimes dream of a healthy life on a homestead, and given the urban renewal movement of bringing gardens into the cities, some have taken the first step into self-sustainability in small urban spaces. There are lots of ways to take life a step further while remaining harmonious with city life, literally bringing in small elements of a fully functional homestead into urban spaces. Possibilities are opening up more and more as more people demand freedom to use their space how they wish- from growing their own food to making their own basic necessities of life, there are lots of ways homeowners can incorporate elements of a homestead into their own small urban yards.
The first thing that comes to mind when talking about homesteading in the city is the ability to grow your own food. The urban gardening movement is long underway, and many people in the city are now making and enjoying their own gardens and harvests from them in the middle of the city. Schools and communities are coming together to make gardening a part of their everyday lives between the concrete buildings and tar roads. From growing tomatoes and lettuce, to creating small urban fruit orchards, growing your own food has become a reality in many urban spaces. People in their backyards now rely on their own small kitchen gardens for fresh vegetables for the reasonable price of some sweat and effort instead of paying grocery store prices. Urban landscapes encourage the mixing of cultures, so these kitchen gardens are shared and seeds are moved from one yard to another, from one culture to another, making hybrid and truly American kitchen gardens full of food suitable for worldly cuisine- in backyards. Not in fancy restaurants. The homestead where fresh is enjoyed often has begun to become a reality.
Selling the harvest is a way to earn some financial independence and helps to release you from the commute and cubicle. If the idea of selling fresh food doesn’t seem to work for you, canned food such as jellies and jams is a great way to make money. Microgreens and lettuces are easy to grow in small spaces and fetch great prices in the farmers market, so if you’re concerned about growing a crop for money, starting with these is a good idea.
But, taken a step further, more foods can be enjoyed from small urban yards. Many cities now allow homeowners to house a certain number of chickens or ducks in their backyards. Chickens and ducks provide eggs and meat and garden weed and bug control. Duck and chicken eggs and meat are both staples in many foods that people who immigrate here rely on. Small coops can be purchased that are pretty to look at, easy to use, and ideal for raising a handful of birds in. Raising your own eggs and meat can also be another step towards some homestead independence. Fresh farm eggs are rare in the city and fetch premium prices.
Some cities have now begun to allow the keeping of goats. There are strict rules about how this can be done, but it is possible. Goats are a wonderful source of milk that for many is necessary as they are allergic to regular grocery store cow’s milk. Especially important for some children, fresh goat’s milk is extremely nutritious and healthy. Goats can also provide a great amount of fiber that can be spun into natural yarns which can be then made into knit or crochet garments, or you can sell the yarn. Goats, when kept properly, do not smell, and they don’t need a lot of space. You can keep two pygmy goats in the size of yard that most city lots have.
Rabbits are another city-friendly small homestead livestock animal. They are easy to care for, thrifty, friendly, and cheap to feed. Some raise their rabbit for the meat, but rabbit fur from angora rabbits makes premium yarn that many fiber-workers search high and low for their clothing and crafts. This is an easy homestead addition that can be done in the city.
Growing herbs for selling fresh or dried plants to make loose leaf teas is another idea for the urban homestead. Plants grown for tea and herbs are often tough and easy to grow perennials, so with little investment you can have another nice method of making some money from your small backyard.
There are many possibilities for homesteading in small urban spaces.
Cheryl D. Jones, shares gardening tips and landscape ideas through her blog, newsletters and her nursery’s website. Visit http://www.GreenwoodNursery.com/ for a full line of plants including trees, flowering shrubs, perennials, ornamental grasses and ground covers. Join the Greenwood Gardeners Club free to receive Greenwood Nursery’s weekly newsletter, seasonal promotions and 10% off your first order.
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