Start Homesteading Now

June/July 2006


Although many people dream of buying several acres in the country, sometimes it's more practical to start homesteading where you are.

Heidi Hunt, an assistant editor at Mother Earth News who homesteaded on a farm in northeastern Washington, recommends learning as many homesteading skills as possible before moving to a place in the country. 'Planting, harvesting and preserving food are skills that can be practiced almost anywhere,' Hunt says.

In fact, many aspects of homesteading work as well in the city as in the country. Installing solar panels, building with straw bales, heating with wood, collecting rainwater and even raising chickens are all possible in the city or suburbs. Just be careful to check all relevant zoning and local ordinances before you get started.

Whatever your homesteading plans, Hunt says it's important to focus on your priorities. Decide which parts of the dream are most important to you. 'Learn the skills and find out what's involved. Each new homesteading activity requires new tools and skills, as well as a certain amount of money and energy,' she says.

Some of these activities require more money and time than others ? another reason why it's a good idea to start with smaller projects, such as learning to garden before buying farmland, or doing some basic home repairs before deciding to build your own home.

If you pursue larger projects, there are many ways to learn more about your interests. For potential farmers, apprenticeships and volunteer opportunities on organic farms can be invaluable. Renewable energy workshops around the country help people learn about small-scale solar or wind power. To learn about building, options range from volunteering with Habitat for Humanity to attending natural building workshops. For a list of homesteading resources, see Plan the Perfect Homestead in the April/May 2006 issue of Mother Earth News.