Photo via David Owen via Flickr CC
What better way to celebrate the earth on Earth Day than to get back in touch with it through our daily living habits. Over the last few years, we've watch a strengthening trend in urban homesteading - people turning their urban setting back into fertile farms that feed the family. From gardening to keeping livestock, from small scale renewable energy to food preservation skills, folks are turning back to self-sufficiency. Just last month, MAKE editor Mark Frauenfelder talked at ETech about his experience in making urban homesteading a more significant part of his life. He highlighted some pretty amazing people turning their urban homes into food-producing farm oases.
Is it the economy pushing people towards less expensive living habits? Is it that the fast pace of urban life got old? Is it an upsurge in awareness about sustainable living? Is it a practice in food security? Is is just that all the cool kids are doing it?
It doesn't much matter the many factors that have gone into making urban homesteading more popular. The fact is, it's seeing a growth, and that's a good green thing.
You could say (and many do) that the whole popularity burst happened with the Dervaes family in Pasadena California, and their Little Homestead in the City. They grow 6,000 pounds of organic food on 1/10 acre of their city lot every year. But while they stand out as an amazing example of the productivity possible on a little lot, it's tough to pinpoint the genesis of a movement that has to do with something as broad as growing food in a backyard, and going off grid where possible. It's not like it's a terribly new idea.
Basically, all you need is a desire to be a little more self-sustaining and you can call yourself an urban homesteader. You can pick one, a few, or all of the habits of a homesteader to take yourself out of the grid of urban living, from power supplies to grocery shopping. Urban homesteaders do everything a pioneer would do, but in a city setting - collecting rainwater and using gray water systems; growing food in backyard plots, container gardens, or rooftops; setting up small scale solar power either for specific devices or for whole-home use; raising chickens and planting orchards; composting; making their own stuff, from clothing to flour.
So on Earth Day 2009, you might want to consider looking into this cultural hot topic, and taking on some urban homesteading habits. You don't have to look far to find ideas...we like talking about this topic, a lot. Here are some resources to get you started:
Urban Gardening: What, How and Why
Raise Chickens in Your Backyard
Urban Homesteading: Bringing Country Know-How to City Streets
eBook Review: Simple Solar Homesteading (or How to Build a Solar Home For $2000)
TreeHuggerTV - Urban Homestead
Small-Scale Grain Raising: For Backyards, Homesteads and Small Farmers