Setting Up An Urban Homestead: Thinking Outside the Box

Reader Contribution by Anna Twitto
article image


Our future garden: full of junk and weeds.

In my previous post, I told how downcast I felt when we arrived at our new home and saw a small plot all smothered in concrete, with no room for a garden. My first impulse was to sit down and cry, but soon enough, we rallied and started looking at our options.

There was a small abandoned plot right next to ours. It was basically a blank space in the town landscape that has been sitting disused or, to be exact, unofficially used as a junk yard/trash heap. There were old mattresses and bottles, broken plastic chairs and old moldy clothes, and everything was overgrown with thorns as tall as my waist. There were also broken slabs of concrete too heavy for us to move on our own.

Our first move was to call the town council and ask for permission to use this plot for gardening. That was easy enough. The nice fellow we spoke to popped over the next morning to see what we were talking about, and seemed genuinely surprised and pleased that someone was interested in that little godforsaken piece of land.

The next stage was junk removal and getting the plot in proper shape for planting. This proved to be trickier. Our budget was nearly nonexistent. Could the city council send a tractor as a one-time gesture and remove the heavy junk? After all, this little investment would permanently remove a huge eyesore from the neighborhood. Unfortunately, after a few weeks of dodged phone calls and vague “maybes”, we realized this just isn’t going to happen. We were lucky enough to snag a tractor that was working on some other project in the area, and got the plot cleared with comparatively very little cost.

The days were rapidly shortening and the rain season was just about to begin. I have never planted right before the winter before, but was too excited to keep myself from jumping feet-first into the experiment. I figured that our winter is about as warm as many people’s summer, so it made sense to try to plant and see what would grow. Over the next weeks, I prepared garden beds and sowed beans, squash, tomatoes, peppers, and greens, in addition to my row of perennial herbs. My first seedlings have started to come up, and I look forward to seeing how it all turns out.

There’s nothing like having the freedom to grow and raise whatever you want on your own piece of rural land, but town living has its potential for homesteading and sustainability. Our gas costs have dropped dramatically since we no longer need to drive for every little errand. Also, in a larger local network of people, there is bigger potential for swapping, trading and giving things away.

Coming, hopefully, soon: exploring the possibility of raising urban chickens.

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.

Need Help? Call 1-800-234-3368