If you are looking for ways to be more self sufficient and want to homestead but don’t own land then keep reading! I wholly believe that you can still homestead without owning a farm, acreage or garden and in this post I will share some ideas so you can increase the amount of self sufficiency in your life and be a homesteader without the homestead.
Indeed, I began my homesteading journey from a rental apartment downtown. I slowly started incorporating these shifts in habits and lifestyle initially as a way to save more money and increase my self sufficiency and now more than ever, many of us are seeking out ways to decrease our dependence on the global supply chain.
So, you have seen the news, the gossip and just living in the world in our current situation and you might hear the term supply shortages everywhere. It can seem very real when you are grocery shopping and shelves are emptying, some countries experienced gas rationing and global shipping is extremely delayed. Now, this feels even more poignant in my current world because if you are Canadian, or maybe not, you may have seen the terrifying natural disaster that unfolded in the province of British Colombia last week. The extreme flooding damaged infrastructure and agricultural land and, of course, many many people’s homes. The lower mainland was cut off from the rest of Canada and other areas of the province, as a result shelves were emptying as people were worried about the availability of essentials. This is just such a horrific agricultural disaster too, the flooding in the Sumas Prairie was a dairy and agricultural heartland of BC and Western Canada and I can’t even begin to comprehend the loss for farmers and homesteaders in this region. This whole situation both locally and globally, has highlighted the need not only for more homesteaders and growers but backyard gardeners, balcony and window growers, doers and makers the homesteaders without the homestead. Together shifting our habits and perspectives can help build and create more self sufficient, resilient and interconnected local economies.
This is the part where we get into how you can make a difference and homestead without having acres of land or the big farmhouse or whatever you think you need to have. So personally, I believe homesteading is not only a physical place, the homestead, I believe it is a lifestyle choice, it is a mindset of choosing to live more sustainably, simply, slow and self sufficient. I decided to break down ways or steps to homestead without the homestead into three areas: food, household and skills. In each category I will provide some sinple ideas you can adopt to make yourself a little bit more homesteady. Of course, these are simply tips or steps that I was able to take from my own experience, use, modify or ignore as you need.
If you want to be more self sufficient, I would argue that typically many articles say the beginning steps are to grow your own food. However, I know feasibly this may not be an option for many folk who live in apartments or urban centres where land availability is limited and moving is not an option.
But you can be more self sufficient with food even if you can’t grow your own. There are several ways to increase your food security without land. Firstly, utilise local. Chances are there are urban farms, community gardens or homesteaders and market gardeners in the wider area who sell food at the farmer’s market or will deliver to your door. Get to know them! Depending on your location in Canada I have utilised Spud.ca who source as much as possible from local vendors and will provide information about their providers. I think of them as an online farmers market. Another way to connect is through social media, for example, I am in several area and neighborhood groups and just by asking you can find homesteaders or market gardeners who either offer CSA’s (community supoorted agriculture) or delivery of extra and excess veggies or pick up options. CSA’s can be a great way to connect to local, seasonal produce. In a CSA you pay the producer upfront for the season and they pledge to provide you with x amount of produce. Lastly for local food try stocking up at upicks, it’s a fun activity for all the family and although people may associate upicks with berries or flowers, there are farms that offer vegetable upicks such as pick your own beans, tomatoes even dig your own potatoes! It just takes some digging and looking and you will find options out there. Upicks are a great way to stock up and then preserve your harvest. Which brings me to my next homesteady tip for food-preserving.
Preserving your food by shopping locally and for in season produce is a valuable skill and way of making your money and homestead readiness go further. Now, i’m not saying you need to rush out and buy a pressure canner and have the large root cellar and shelves upon shelves of mason jars. But learning to buy local produce when it is readily available (and arguably cheaper) and then preserving some od that to delve into over winter, or if supplies are short will help you feel reassured. For example, I first started “homesteading” in my downtown apartment, I would buy bulk fruits and veggies when it was cheaper in the summer (or go to upicks) and then either freeze or make jams and canned fruit. Water bath canning is by far easier to learn and requires less equipment than pressure canning, try this first if you want to dip your toes in!
Lastly for food, in general keep a well stocked cupboard of pantry staples that you know (or learn) how to cook with. Pantry basics or staples for me is flour, sugar, salt, lentils, beans, grains such as oats and so on. Buying bulk pantry basics, in my experience, does work out cheaper long term but does require pre planning on your end on learning how to store or prep appropriately.
When it comes to increasing the self sufficiency of your home, I often think of when can I make this myself? Again, this usually involves getting into the habit of buying pantry staples and essentials that you can also use for making your own products. For example, buying beeswax from a local supplier and using that to make your own candles and beeswax wraps and salves and balms. Learning to make these on your own will make you feel like your homesteading even without that land!
Another way to increase the homesteadiness of your house is to think slow when it comes to the items in your home. Reuse and repair will go a long way to decreasing your dependence on consumption. If you need to buy, think thrifty and shop secondhand or from local makers. I often look at ways to upcycle products too, turning old flannel shirts into pillow cases or cushion covers is always a good place to start!
Finally, increasing the skills in your repetoire will allow your self sufficiency to go further. Learning ways to repair and mend is a valuable skill that will also help you wallet too. A skill that seems to be making a comeback is that of sewing and also knitting. Repairing holes and tears in your clothes so they will go further really is a part of our homesteading lifestyle. Knitting, too, is coming back into popularity and for good reason, personally my knitting skills are lacking but making those local connections and finding others who can knit in your local area is a great way to support local and boost the resiliency of your small economy.
Any skill that helps you repair your goods will also go a long way (although knowing when to admit defeat and call your local expert in that area is a skill too)!
Lastly, become skilled at growing small. If you have a small yard or balcony or even a window ledge you can grow a kitchen herb garden or salad garden indoors. Even a small amount of growing your own is a charming experience as you get to pick those fresh herbs to put on your pasta dish! I find mint is a wonderful and easy starter plant!
So there you have it! I hope sharing some of the ways that I began to homestead and become more self sufficient when I didn’t own land or a homestead can help you incorporate the amount of homesteadiness in your life. Any small changes we make can lead to huge shifts in our lifestyles and perspectives and really can make a difference!