In an age where people want to provide more for themselves and rely less on food industry giants, bartering with your neighbors is the new coupon clipping, and homemade salsa made with simple backyard ingredients is the new gourmet cooking. But if you're a busy person who juggles a full-time job with taking care of the kids and pets, and just about everything else around the house, the concept of homesteading—in essence, becoming more self-sufficient so you don't have to rely on huge corporations to poison, er, feed your family—seems nearly impossible. Never fear, a quick and easy guide to homesteading for beginners is here!
The good news is, in modern homesteading, you don't have to go it alone. Just find a few people in your neighborhood with different skill sets, and you can save time and money while becoming more self-sufficient—as a neighborhood.
If you're new to the concept of modern homesteading, here are some great starting points.
#1. Size it right.
If you decide to start living a more self-sufficient lifestyle, it's easy to fail if you try to do it all at once. For urban homesteaders and authors Erik Knutzen and Kelly Coyne, authors of the upcoming book Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World (Rodale, 2011), say it took them years of gradually transitioning into the urban homesteading lifestyle, and caution against doing too much too soon. "Planting a small vegetable garden—no more than 4 feet by 8 feet—in a raised bed is a great way for beginners to start," says Knutzen. "Don't try to grow all your own food in the first year! Start small, add compost each season, and pay attention to the quality of your soil. Use a drip [watering] system on a timer. As you gain experience, expand." (If you don't have a vegetable garden, start planning now for next spring, or try to sneak in a few late-season crops this year.)