Are you itching to start homesteading today? If so, you're in good company.
In the past few years, homesteading and living a more self-sufficient life have become increasingly popular across North America. And not just among rural folks.
Here are seven things anyone can do to start homesteading today, regardless of where you live.
Estimated reading time: 11 minutes
Even city dwellers in big cities are trying apartment homesteading and learning traditional homesteading skills. And more people are spending hours online trying to figure out how to find homestead land.
No matter where you live, you'll find many activities available to introduce yourself to homesteading. And today, you can start learning homestead skills you'll need right on your mobile device or laptop.
Start Homesteading Today and Grow Your Own...
Honestly, this idea will be the first piece of advice any veteran homesteader will give you, and for good reason.
Even better, growing your own garden to feed your family helps secure your food supply in uncertain times.
Start by choosing easy vegetables to grow with kids and you'll encourage the next generation to homestead too.
Plan to Grow Vegetables Indoors or Outdoors
Create a plan to grow vegetables, herbs, or even simple flowers to bring natural beauty to your space. Learn the basics of permaculture design principles to use the natural microclimates in your suburban yard.
I love growing herbs because it provides a constant source of fresh ingredients and flavors for my cooking. With herbs, it’s as simple as plucking off a few leaves when needed. And you'll find it's fairly easy to grow herbs indoors.
Starting a backyard garden is pretty simple if you have a yard. But for those who don’t have access to a yard, there are some easy solutions.
Pick up some over-the-railing style window baskets if your patio has railings to hang them on. You can also create a stacked rebar tower of potted plants, ideal for using limited space super efficiently.
Are you in a condo with one of those patios that have a separator between yourself and your neighbor? If so, those barriers provide a perfect area to toss up lattices or posts and grow tomatoes and other climbing plants.
Learn About Canning and Preserving
Canning or preserving food naturally increases certain foods' longevity without spoiling or requiring refrigeration. And it's a good introduction to some basic homesteading skills.
Before the mass production and shipping of produce, canning, preserving, and dehydrating were how those of us in colder climates ensured we would have enough fruits, vegetables, and other out-of-season foods to last the winter.
In a global effort to buy local, secure their food supply, and avoid imported produce, many homesteaders are wisely home canning and preserving food when it’s in season.
Tip: If you're brand new to canning, preserving, and/or dehydrating, consider getting a book. This big list of 21 canning and preserving books is a great place to start.
Get Started Canning or Preserving
Many of today's aspiring homesteaders may not have enough space to grow a large amount of produce during their season.
So to get started homesteading today without your own garden, buy fruit or vegetables from farmers' markets during the harvest. Then start canning them yourself. Or get started by making pickled vegetables as a fun family activity!
If you’re buying a large quantity, negotiate a lower price with vendors. And it's always good to support local farmers.
Tip: Before you rush out to buy a flat of tomatoes or pickling cucumbers, think about where you will store your preserves. You might need to clean out your pantry, build new shelves, or find an alternative to a root cellar if space is tight.
If you’ve grown enough of your food, you should also learn to can some of it. A quick Google search will lead you to many really good beginner guides and instructional videos for canning.
A great place to start is learning how to make homemade applesauce. It's pretty easy and a great family weekend project.
Get a book like The Ball Complete Guide to Home Preserving as a reference. An added benefit to preserves is that although you may need to replace the rubber seal lid, mason jars are reusable for each season.
Add a good set of mason jars and pressure canning supplies as your essential homestead kitchen tools.
(Psst... you might also enjoy this list of 20 best books on simple living to inspire your homestead dreams...)
This one’s simple and easy when you're ready to start homesteading - even in the city. If you’re in an area that draws on a city water supply, save money with rainwater harvesting. Do your part to decrease the power and resources needed to pump, filter, and maintain the city water system.
The ideal place for a rain barrel is at the end of an eavestrough or gutter. Or make your own with a wide-angled piece of metal or plastic to funnel water in (though these are less effective). Either way, a rain barrel is a step in the right direction and perfect for watering your garden.
Related: Our Off Grid Water System Setup
Connect With Other Homesteaders
When first starting out as a homesteader, it’s always good to meet other people in your area who are interested in the same thing.
There are plenty of local homesteading groups, Facebook groups, and even online forums where you can find new ideas, ask questions and learn from more experienced homesteaders.
Just do a little research for these types of groups in your area, and you’re bound to find them. Most of them meet occasionally and/or engage in different homestead-related activities.
Each group will be different, but it’s a fantastic way to meet like-minded people and increase your knowledge, helping you start homesteading today.
Tip: Facebook has many homesteading groups to join. Search for a local one, or choose a group based on your interest. For example, my mom belongs to several homestead cooking, backyard chicken, off grid living and crafting groups.
The number of herbs, flowers, and wild edibles growing naturally in your area may surprise you. For example, in a large part of the north-east United States and corresponding areas of Canada, you may come across:
- Johns Wort
Use these foraged herbs and greens to make delicious dishes and drinks, like elderberry tea.
Use foraging to teach your kids, and take the opportunity to get outside as a family. If you're in a city, start learning about urban foraging. Do a quick online search, or ask your local environmental agency, and get out there!
This can be as simple as keeping your eye out when you’re at the park or finding your nearest State or Provincial Park (double-check regulations beforehand).
Brush Up on Your Carpentry Skills
Okay, at first glance, this might seem a bit daunting. I promise it’s not as hard as it seems.
Carpentry is a great way to avoid purchasing mass-produced furniture and products, save money, and learn useful skills.
Start with something simple, like a bookcase, a cold frame garden, or even simpler, a Giant Jenga set. Yes, that’s right, the same childhood building blocks game, but much bigger!
If you don’t have access to a lot of tools or space, a Giant Jenga set is a very easy way to introduce yourself to the basics of carpentry, and you get a really entertaining game for your patio at the end.
All you need are some 2x4s, a measuring tape, a saw, and some sandpaper to get to it. There are numerous “How To” guides on the web, and it’s a great outdoor game to create yourself.
Carpentry for Homesteading
Once you’ve tried carpentry, try some more challenging projects if it’s something you enjoy.
Experience is the best way to learn, and carpentry is a skill that is an excellent asset if you want to start homesteading today. It allows you to construct custom pieces for any project around the home and fix something rather than replace it.
Try to choose homestead projects that will help hone your carpentry skills and help you move towards your homesteading dreams. And if you're planning to homestead and homeschool, get your kids their toolsets too!
Tip: Many local hardware stores also offer introductory classes or seminars on different aspects of carpentry.
Raising Micro Livestock (Backyard Chickens, Turkeys, or Meat Rabbits)
Yet if you have limited space, such as a balcony or patio, and want to raise your own livestock, try raising quail. They need less food than chickens or turkeys and can live in smaller space.
Quail produce delicious eggs packed with more nutrients than an average chicken egg.
an enclosure in the designated space, or stack cages if you have even less space. Double-check local bylaws beforehand, but you’d be surprised at what’s entirely legal to keep and farm, even in a city.
Either way, rabbits and chickens can easily be raised in a backyard with minimal investment in rabbit or chicken supplies. And they provide a great source of fresh, natural meat.
(Tip: look for used copies of any of the titles on our list of Best Homesteading Books for Beginners. Lots of practical advice and inspiration too!)
Start Homesteading Today
And there you have it - seven ways to get started homesteading today. Pick one, get out there, and do it!
And don't forget, there are endless resources online to figure out what you want to do. If you're having trouble with any homesteading activities, let us know in the comments below, and we'll do our best to help!