Facts and Stats

What is Urban Homesteading?
(Shamelessly pulled from Wikipedia, with sources cited. Booyah.)

According to UC-Davis, “an urban homestead is a household that produces a significant part of the food, including produce and livestock, consumed by its residents. This is typically associated with residents’ desire to live in a more environmentally conscious manner.”[1]

Aspects of urban homesteading include[2]

  • Resource reduction: using solar/alternative energy sources, harvesting rainwater, using greywater, line drying clothes, using alternative transportation such as bicycles and buses
  • Raising animals, including chickens, goats, rabbits, fish, worms, and/or bees
  • Edible landscaping: growing fruit, vegetables, culinary and medicinal plants, converting lawns into gardens
  • Self-sufficient living: re-using, repairing, and recycling items; homemade products
  • Food preservation including canning, drying, freezing, cheese-making, and fermenting
  • Community food-sourcing such as foraging, gleaning, and trading
  • Natural building
  • Composting

Having an allotment or vegetable garden has been common throughout history, notably, victory gardens during the WW1 and WWII eras, immigrant gardens, the Integral Urban House, and the inner-city community gardening movement in the 1970s. The “back-to-the-land” movement of the 1960s, exemplified by numerous groups such as Tennessee’s The Farm, has recently been reformed into a “back-to-the-city” movement.

1) Kristen Reynolds, University of California Small Farm Program, February 2009, Urban Agriculture in Alameda, CA. Retrieved 18 February 2011.
2) UNV-Reno Co-operative Extension Service, 18 September 2009, Urban Homesteading: Sustainable living in the city. Retrieved 18 February 2011.

What (Really) Is Urban Homesteading?

The more I learn about this, the funnier it seems. This is the thing: Urban Homesteading, as it is used in this ‘sustainable living’ concept, is a semantics thing, really. If you were to ask my very Italian partner about the novel idea of making your own jams and breads, eating (gasp!) whole foods, raising a little livestock, making your own foods and having a garden, etc….the acts at the heart of this new “movement,” she would scoff, and in fact has scoffed. And scoffed loudly. And said something to the effect of, “what, you mean running a household? Living life?” I’m realizing this is such a very American thing, here. We’ve become so increadibly plasticized, consumerized, “modernized,” that the simple acts of healthfully living your life, acts that have been very standard as a part of living and having a home as long as there have been humans with homes, is suddenly New and a Movement, and it’s called Urban Homesteading. (We do love our movements, don’t we.)

So what happens, from what I’ve seen, is that Industrialization happens, which, after a few decades of people realizing it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, gives space for reactive anti-industrialization movements. The main one called for a nice long time Sustainable Living, later called Voluntary Simplicity, or Simple Living. Right? Then someone, who just isn’t happy with the same old name, comes up with the term Urban Homesteading for it, puts a neat little marketing twist on it, and spins it like a new movement. And we’re hooked. Except that these folks who “came up” with the term patents it. And when others who are hooked on the “new” movement go to use it, they write letters and demand compensation. Leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy, right?

It’s just very funny to me, Urban Homesteading as a movement. Or, as my partner would say, “Homesteading, as in running a home, but whatever.” Long live the rebellious act of taking your own sustainability within your own hands, away from the corporations. Long live funny little movements that get our attention back on things like rebelliously self sustaining house keeping.

Comment below, by all means. Let’s start a conversation.




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