Are you curious about homesteading? If so, you aren’t alone. In recent years, interest in homesteading and sustainable living has become increasingly popular. Although the idea of homesteading has existed for centuries it’s been less popular since 1900 due to the rise of western consumerism.
Now, many people have begun looking for alternative ways of living a more sustainable life. If you’re asking yourself “What is Homesteading?” you’re on the right track.
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Like living off the grid, homesteading might mean different things to different people. It really depends exactly on what you want to include in your lifestyle.
One example could be planting a backyard garden to grow your own food. Or you could learn how to raise small farm animals, like chickens for meat or eggs, or goats. You could even learn to live more sustainably and install off-grid energy alternatives like solar or wind power.
Related: How We Live Off The Grid
Read on to discover more about the history of homesteading, and how people across the world have started making their own modern homesteads.
What is Homesteading?
There are two common definitions of homesteading. The first refers to living self-sufficiently and sustainably. Most of the time this will be as a family group living together in a home or homes on a property. This is where you can produce or make most (or all) of what you need for your family to survive.
The second definition refers to the historic homestead, made popular by the Homestead Act of 1862. Under this act, “public land in the western United States was granted to any US citizen willing to settle on and farm the land for at least five years”. In Canada, a similar law called the Dominion Lands Act was enacted in 1872.
What was the Homestead Act of 1862?
The Homestead Act of 1862 was established to help settle the American West. The federal government granted almost 10% of the United States to homesteaders through this act and its successors. The program granted full ownership of a 160-acre plot to citizens willing to relocate to the area and work the land for at least five years. Since this act was passed during the Civil War, the program was only open to citizens who had not taken up arms against the United States Federal Government.
Several similar acts were passed after the Civil War, aimed at helping with Reconstruction in the South. The acts also included black Americans in the program, leading to 1 in 4 owning their own farms by 1900. Variations of the homesteading acts were accepting applications in the United States until 1976 when it was finally discontinued.
Urban Homesteading Now
As more people become interested in self-reliance and sustainable living, urban homesteading has become more popular. Whether you live in rural or urban areas, you can start homesteading right where you are. You can start slow, build your confidence and get comfortable before you decide to buy a property and maybe even move off the grid to homestead like the pioneers!
Related: 7 Ways to Start Homesteading Today
The easiest way to start homesteading involves producing some of your own food. A backyard garden is the most simple to get started, but you can also try raising chickens, ducks, turkeys, or pigs. These micro- livestock animals require a relatively small plot of land to raise and will give you a recurring source of fresh eggs and meat to supplement your gardened produce.
Another important aspect of homesteading involves a do-it-yourself mentality. Whether you’re building furniture, repurposing old items, or fixing things around the property, try to do things yourself. Get creative. Try to use materials you already have to avoid purchasing new items. Keep this mindset to help you reduce, reuse, and recycle. This will help to minimize your spending and make you more self-reliant.
Here are some things you can do to get started homesteading:
- Raise your own micro livestock
- Plant a vegetable, fruit and herb garden
- Build your own furniture and other items
- Generate your own energy
- Urban foraging
- Harvest rainwater
- Canning and preserving
- Make your own clothes
There are endless possibilities for you to try out when homesteading. If it makes you more self-sufficient, try it out. By becoming more self-reliant, you don’t have to depend on stores and companies to produce what you need to live. The increasing cost of living expenses won’t impact you as much when you don’t need to buy as much.
Now that you know more about what is homesteading, get started creating your own homestead. Don’t want to create a full homestead? No worries, just doing a few of these things will make a huge difference.