Start Homesteading Now

| June/July 2006

homestead, homestead farm, country home, country house, rural living, rural retreat


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.

terri sullivan
7/15/2007 12:00:00 AM

How necessary is it to be self sufficent and is it really possible? We want to, however, we have not had good luck growing even tomatoes in pots, and certainly do not have a green thumb. I love to freeze veggies, etc. Also, are generators something that is a good investment for these times. I have spoken with some people about being prepared, homesteading, etc. they are not at all worried, they said that they prepared for Y2K and nothing happened and they actually wasted stuff. I am for sure wanting all of the info I can get on the above questions. Thanks Terri

mike plitnick
6/16/2007 12:00:00 AM

hi,just taking a chance.looking for a few acres to live on and bowhunt out of the way,in ia or anywhere i can make a living?

bobbie fowler
5/24/2007 12:00:00 AM

no comment really. just looking for information on how to get started homesteading. need all info, from where to find land to what i need to do to get it. anything at all is helpful.

carrie ann hebert
4/25/2007 12:00:00 AM

Hello,We are a military family who has decided to homestead somewhere in the Smokey Mountain foothills. Tennessee is currently our 1st choice. We would like to farm organically and raise several types of livestock (sheep, a few cows, pigs, chicken and couple of horses). We want to have organic, grass fed animals for our own consumption and to be able to sell a bit to our community. We would love to have any information at all about possible farms that may be looking to sell in a few years. My husband plans on retiring in 2013. So I have 6 years to study, practice what I can and hopefully find a great place. If you have any advice or know of a possible location, please let me know. Thanks so much!

linda robinson
8/15/2006 12:00:00 AM

Been there, done that. The beachfront home, the 50+ acre farm/forest preservation home. I would like to relocate in the mountains within 150-250 miles from where I live now - less than 10 minutes walk to the Chesapeake Bay in Southern MD. I would like to get some input from those who live in Western MD, PA, WV, northern VA. How do I connect and find reasonably price acreage? Wouldn't mind even only an acre or 5 backed up to a Nat'l Park.

walter jeffries
6/28/2006 12:00:00 AM

We have been gradually adding a few new skills, a new animal, a couple of new veggies, etc each year. This slow approach gets us there without being overwhelmed by too many new things all at once. You can visit our homestead blog at where I write about things we've learned 'on the farm'.One thing that threatens that is the USDA's National Animal Identification System (NAIS) which will make it harder for people to buy and sell animals. Most people don't breed their own stock but instead buy piglets or chickens, etc. NAIS is going to add significant costs (e.g., $30 to $50) per animal. That amounts to a hidden tax on our food of about $500 per year. When you're low income and living sustainably on a homestead that is a big chunk of change. Visit for more information about this program.

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