Shifting Focus To Urban Homesteading

Reader Contribution by Anna Twitto
article image


Some of the plants we got as a housewarming gift.

After a lengthy break and a house move, I am back to blogging and plan to focus on stuff such as urban homesteading, sustainable living and cultivating a community. 

During the 10 years we lived on a plot of land in a rural area, my goal was always to look out for a more remote place with more land, which would allow us to do more in terms of homesteading and especially keeping livestock. Needless to say, when life took a sharp turn and we found ourselves preparing to move to a town, I was deeply depressed. 

It felt like the shattering of a dream and, in a sense, like a total failure. I kept replaying scenarios in my head, thinking that maybe we should have done more, sacrificed more, tried harder. 

Nevertheless, I knew that homesteading and sustainability are not just for those who can do remote off-grid living. It’s more about mindset than circumstances. And so I started to look into urban homesteading, and discovered inspiring examples of food production people have managed in tiny spaces. Container gardening, vertical gardening, urban chickens, community plots and other cool projects made me ashamed of doing so little with what we have had until now. Rather than needing more land, it transpired, we just needed to make better use of it!

We are fortunate enough to have a house with its own lot, but upon our arrival I suffered another disappointment: I knew that the previous owner loved concrete a little too much, but I did not realize that he literally smothered all of the yard with concrete and tiles, leaving no blade of grass. I looked at that great big grey slab and just wanted to cry. 

Container gardening is a solution many people successfully implement, but there was also a small plot of land next to our lot that has served, until now, as something like an unofficial junk yard. We looked with greedy eyes at this unkempt, overgrown bit of earth, seeing in our vision neat rows of vegetables and a chicken coop and run. 

We applied for permission to use that empty plot. We were prepared for bureaucracy, but there was no problem whatsoever – the city council was thrilled to grant us permission and even agreed to help with disposing of some of the heavier junk. 

Life has been busy, and it isn’t easy to get things done with four kids and a maze of boxes, but we still managed to start working on some projects. I began weeding, pruning and raking leaves. Our friends gave us a bunch of plants as a housewarming gift, and we’ve brought some from our old home, so I’ve started planting a herb garden. My husband set up his outdoor fish tank and collected a pile of scrapwood for the chicken coop. Luckily, people all around keep poultry and I hear roosters crowing every day, so we’re very fortunate in that account – it’s unlikely our little coop will bother anyone, as long as we are considerate and take care to be good neighbors. 

I look forward to recording our next steps in this journey. This, it turns out, is not the end of our homesteading adventure – it’s just another stage.

Anna Twitto’s academic background in nutrition made her care deeply about real food and seek ways to obtain it. Anna, her husband and their four children live on the outskirts of a small town in northern Israel. They aim to grow and raise a significant part of their food by maintaining a vegetable garden, keeping a flock of backyard chickens and foraging. Anna’s books are on her Author PageConnect with Anna on Facebook and read more about her current projects on her blogRead all Anna’s Mother Earth News posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.