What exactly is urban homesteading?
Homesteading has traditionally been defined as living off the land, maybe even off grid, while implementing practices that lead towards a self-sufficient lifestyle. However, that’s changing. More people, such as our family, are redefining what a homesteader is. The true essence of homesteading is having the ability to transition from being a consumer to becoming a producer. Homesteaders can live off the land sure, but what if you live in the city or in an apartment? Homesteading isn’t about where you live, but how you live. Don’t let limited access to land limit the urban homesteader inside of you.
Here are five simple ways to know whether are not you are an urban homesteader.
You Don't Refrigerate Your Eggs
This conservation is often held with new visitors on our homestead. Most people are shocked to find my abundant egg bounty sitting casually on the kitchen counter. Most people are likely to feel more comfortable refrigerating their eggs than storing them at room temperature. However, if you’ve traveled abroad, you'll find room temperature eggs are the more common practice in many countries. Here in America, the USDA requires all eggs that are sold, be refrigerated. Keep in mind, most eggs purchased from grocery stores are already a couple of weeks old!
Many city ordinances now allow city slickers to keep a small number of chickens in their backyard and many people are taking advantage of that. So now you’ve got these adorable hens and that lay plenty eggs in Spring and Summer that have the potential to overcrowd any urban homesteaders refrigerator!
Mason Jars Are Part of The Good Dishes
As a child, I remember mom would announce we are using the 'good dishes' tonight. Most of the time that meant company was coming. Today, mason jars have been promoted to the good dish status. What can I say? I have a thing for mason jars. As a matter of fact, you know you're an urban homesteader because you use mason jars for multiple things. They're everywhere.
Mason jars are relatively inexpensive and easy to come by. They can be found at your local grocery store, hardware store, and thrift store. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and hold up to heat and cold quite well.
I also use my mason jars as a water bottle. I enjoy drinking infused water, especially in the heat of Sacramento summer. Mason jars have become my go to infused water bottle. Just pop in a few pieces of frozen fruit, freshly sliced lemon, and sometimes a sprig or two mint from my garden and its golden! I also use the jars to store my dried herbs and seasonings, tea light candle holders for an elegant dinner outside during Passover, flower vase, pencil holder, storing and selling my homemade whipped shea body butter, store loose change, desk organizer and so much more!
You Make Your Own Wine
Ah yes. Growing your own food can be hard work and sometimes I like to relax with a little bit of wine. Mead. Homemade honey wine. Families have been making wine for hundreds of years and home wine making is quickly becoming a lost art. Many people believe its illegal for them to make wine at home, this is simply not true. Each adult can make up to 100 gallons of wine per year, if you have another adult in your home – that’s 200 gallons. Wine can be given as gifts to friends and family, just don’t sell it! Be sure to check out ATF (Alcohol Tabacco Firearms) to get the skinny on all the legalities of this amazing art! If you’re interested in learning more about wine making I recommend this book. It has became my wine ‘bible’ when I first started wine making. It it jam packed with tons of information and plenty of easy recipes to get started.
Click Photo to Purchase
You Make Your Own Natural Products
Making your own natural beauty products isn't as difficult as most people will think. With increasing number of reports of dangerous chemicals used in commercial products and their long term effects, it's time to start cutting out the middle man and take control of the products in your bathroom. For those of you who already have made the leap, then you have already discovered just how beneficial homemade natural products are.
In our transition from city-slickers to urban homesteaders, I discovered many great uses of the herbs that we grow. I've used lavender and comfrey in soap as well as beeswax from our hives to make lip balms and candles. In addition, I make a fantastic whipped shea body butter for skin moisturizer and even toothpaste. Making natural products isn't expensive and allows me to be in touch with my creative side.
Here is a great beginner's guide to soapmaking that isn't too expensive and full of helpful tips and information.
Click Photo to Purchase
You Grow Soil
Simply put, composting is growing soil. It's also nature's way of recycling. If we did nothing to the leaves that fall to the ground every year, they will eventually break down and create a rich organic matter to support plant life. Most people compost to speed up the process in a more controlled environment. We can decided where, when, and how this natural recycling process takes place.
If you're already composting, you may have already discovered the benefits of creating this amazing 'black gold'. So whether you're composting to amend your own soil, or saving your kitchen scraps for your neighbor's compost pile, you are one step closer to being an urban homesteader.
So save your toe nails, dryer lint, hair from your brush, and your coffee filters and make this rich 'black gold'!
Click Photo to Purchase
The staff at your local feed store know you by first name.
You're a regular. There is nothing more to say.
This is by far not the complete list. What else am I missing? I had a follower on Facebook tell me they now save their green onion roots and place them in a mason jar of water near the window of their apartment. Yes, these onions will regrow and can be used again and again. What are some other practices that demonstrate you’re a urban homesteader? Please leave your comments below.
Who doesn't like a cool refreshing smoothie in the heat of the Sacramento summer? Smoothies are a quick, easy to make snack that we enjoy anytime of the year on our urban homestead and if you've spent any amount of time working with us, you already know.
Besides being super easy to make, the multiple combinations and flavors are endless. They are the perfect cure for a sweet craving, easy on the digestion, and can be a great energy boost.
I enjoy discovering new ways to whirl ingredients together in the Vitamix, and when I came across this recipe I didn't hesitate to give it a spin. I've been reading up on the health benefits of Turmeric and was anxious to try this in a smoothie. Turmeric is a perennial rhizome that grows as a shrub in Asia and India. Traditionally. it has been used traditionally to dye fabrics and is the main ingredient in most curry blends. The ancestors have been known to use turmeric to ease heartburn, soothe an upset stomach, and for good liver health. Many natural practitioners recommend it to use for depression and even ringworm.
Drink up to good health!
I've tried several recipes and many ways to preserve olives. This one is a winner! Gather your friends, family, to preserve and share in the abundance of the harvest! Besides, you'll need all hands on deck for this process.
I love basil. This extremely aromatic herb can make an appearance on our table each night for dinner and it will never grow old to me. A wonderful Chiffonade of raw sweet basil among a bowl of fresh lettuce greens, whole leaves atop a fresh baked homemade pizza, or layered ontop a portobello mushroom cap on my veggie sandwich - - it's all good!
So when my King rolled a wheel-barrow full of this freshly harvested versatile herb I knew it wasn't the end of my delicious basil filled summer, but a new season for me and my dear herbal friend. Now I haven't had much success drying basil while retaining its color, flavor, and aroma (although I refuse to give up on the drying). This year, in addition to drying and making pesto, I attempted other ways to preserve this delicate herb.
Frozen Basil Leaves
This was by far the most simple way to preserve the leaves. Just a quick rinse to ensure the removal of all traces of soil and little buggies, layer on a cookie sheet or dish and pop into the freezer. After they freeze, I remove them and place them into a zip lock bag and keep in the freezer for long term storage. So simple and easy. Perfect for taking out a few leaves and dropping them in my favorite winter soups.
Basil Butter Log
My family isn't big on eating butter but when we do, we'll do it with pizazz! This was super easy to prepare. I set 2 sticks of organic unsalted butter out until soft at room temperature. Chopped a couple handfuls of fresh basil. Mixed the ingredients in a bowl until creamy and well blended. Using plastic wrap, I shaped the spread into a beautiful log, place it a ziplock bag and store it in the freezer. This log will be wonderful on my homemade Ciabatta Bread or corn on the cob.
To save seeds is to believe in the future. Chanowk likes to let a good portion of our basil flower each year so we can save seeds for next year. A plants ability to reproduce itself is a natural part of the life cycle of a plant. Seeds (life) should not and cannot be manufactured.
Basil seeds can be found in the flower heads located at the top of the plant. I cut and remove the dried flower heads and set aside for a week or so to ensure they are completely dry. When I'm ready to harvest the seeds, I simply crush the dried flower heads and blow away the chaff. You will be left with many tiny black seeds that store well for at least five years. Store seeds in a clearly labeled paper envelope and enjoy your basil for years to come!
Basil is a blemish eraser. Steep a cup of basil leaves in 1 cup of water for 10 minutes and swap on your trouble areas and rinse. Studies show that doing this 2 to 3 times a day will allow the herb's oil to combat the bacteria that causes pimples.
It's stone fruit season here on our urban homestead. Our bees have successfully done their job and there are plenty of delicious ripe apricots, plums and peaches ready to harvest. The fruit that doesn't make it to our weekly farmer's market (or in our own tummies) will be made into great tasting, low-sugar jam! Growing up,my mother always made batches upon batches of peach preserves and stored them away in her canning cabinet. When we were treated with ice cream, she'd pop open a can of peachy goodness while my sisters and I would watch in anticipation.
Well we've been on a canning spree the last few weeks and one of my favorite jams thus far has been our Strawberry Plum Jam. We have recently discovered the wonderful marriage of Strawberries and Plums! With a variety of plum trees from Asian Plums to these mini deep red juicy sweet plums (I have no idea of the exact variety) around the property, we have stocked up. Although this jam was created spontaneously, we completely sold out of this at last week's farmer's market.
Try this jam on top of some home-made biscuits or with a healthy heaping of vanilla ice cream. Although I haven't tried it yet, I suspect its great on pancakes also! Keep in mind this is a low-sugar jam with a 'fruit-forward' flavor. Tie it with a bow for a great thank you gift!
If you're local to our urban farm and are interested in attending a jam making workshop, please let us know!