A Home in the City, a Homestead for Life

| 7/27/2011 5:06:25 PM

Tags: urban homesteading, community gardens, self-sufficiency,

SeedlingsThis story is from Julie Lavigne, submitted as part of our Wisdom From Our Elders collection of self-sufficient tales from yesteryear. 

When my grandparents built their little two bedroom home in the city, grandpa made sure there was a wood stove in the basement for heating and cooking. They also made pickles and sauerkraut in the garage and it always smelled of the drying dill from the garden.

Most of the yard was a garden where he grew the best tomatoes, cabbage, baby lettuce, onions, radishes; we ate very well. He didn't buy plants. He saved seeds and started them every spring in old milk cartons and other recycled containers. I wouldn't be surprised if he brought some of those seeds from the Ukraine when he made his way to the U.S. All of my grandparents lived on farms in Russia or Poland before coming to the U.S. But, my one grandpa was the one who really brought it home to us.

I grew up eating sunflower seeds grown in the garden and dried in the basement. They were fantastic. I thought everyone ate them!

My dad started gardening seriously when we were fairly young; I often wondered if it was an attempt to get on my grandpa's better side for having stolen his daughter. Grandpa taught him everything. The neighbors hated it every spring when my dad had a buddy bring a load of fresh manure for our garden. They sure liked the tomatoes he gave them later in the year.

I remember mushrooming with my grandparents, parents, and aunts and uncles. One time I found a box turtle. I remember thinking that was really cool because I was really into nature.

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