Modern homesteading is alive and well, offering two distinct ways to cultivate a future out of the ground around you.
Urban homesteading involves taking it upon yourself to transform your land into a self-sustaining, urban microfarm. Urban homesteading allows you to adopt the level of self-sustainability you are comfortable with, while retaining the convenience of city or suburban life.
A modern twist on the Homesteading Act of 1862 is taking place in America's Midwest. The original Homesteading Act offered land ownership of up to 60 acres in exchange for farming the land for five years. According to Mother Earth News, "small towns looking to boost or stabilize population are giving away free housing lots... dubbed mini-homesteading."
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Start an Urban Homestead
Urban homesteading is a decision you make to turn whatever space you have available into a self-sustaining environment. One of the easiest ways to break into urban homesteading is through gardening. Even a small apartment will usually have a place to grow herbs or tomatoes. Start small, even if you have ample space. Let the size of your garden grow with your confidence and ability.
Self-Sufficient Urban Homesteading
City houses on city lots can be transformed into working, urban microfarms that create a sustainable living environment for the people who live there. The plants are all selected based on the environment and the occupants’ needs. Additional income can come from workshops, seminars, outreach programs and presentations.
A good example is the Urban Homestead, which began as a family experiment in the 1980s. The Dervaes family transformed their California urban lot into "an organic permaculture garden that supplies us with food year-round."
Midwest Homesteading Today
Minnesota, Kansas, Nebraska and North Dakota all offer free land as an enticement for population growth in rural areas. Towns wishing to create subdivisions offer free lots to people who agree to build houses and move in. In addition to free land, the town of Ellsworth, Kansas offers 70 percent tax rebates and job-hunting assistance to potential homesteaders. Websites and organizations such as Kansas Free Land offer detailed information on each town's opportunities and offers.
The promise of free land and a fresh start has drawn people together, saving towns, schools and small businesses for over a hundred years. Homesteading, in one form or another, will continue to provide the opportunity for people to come together and create the lives of their dreams.