Modern Homesteading - Why The Homestead Project?
What homesteading means has evolved significantly over the years. In the mid 1800’s homesteading referred to those invoking The Homesteading Act of 1862 which granted land to people after they had lived on it for a certain period of time. Then in the 1970’s, homesteading evolved to describe the lifestyle of disillusioned city-dwellers who “opted out” of urban living and returned to their rural roots.
The 21st century term "modern homesteading" no longer describes where people live. We no longer need to "opt out" of modern urban life to be homesteaders. To quote Mother Earth News, Modern Homesteading “is about using less energy, eating wholesome local food, involving your family in the life of the community and making wiser choices that will improve the quality of life for your family, your community and the environment around you.”
We live in the suburbs and our home is surrounded by typical subdivisions (when we moved here we were surrounded by fields, and over the years they have all been urbanized and now we have thousands of homes surrounding us). We sometimes refer to our environment as "city in the front and country in the back".
We live very much on-grid. We both work at full time jobs and our children attend public school. We own 2 vehicles and make regular trips to the local grocery store and Costco for some of our needs.
But, when we can and little by little, we aspire to make choices from a Modern Homesteading perspective.
Some of the projects we have embarked on are larger:
We keeping laying hens (and have for over 10 years) and ducks (for the past 2 years)
We raise our own meat chickens (for the last 5 years)
We embarked on a significant home renovation about 7 years ago where we made as many environmentally friendly choices as we could afford, including the installation of solar panels (that currently feed electricity back into the grid) and a very efficient wood burning fireplace, use of FCS-certified building materials and low VOC paints.
We have planted a number of trees on our property, including a little orchard 3 years ago, which currently includes 8 fruit trees and a number of vines and shrubs, as well as a number of native trees (which we applied for and were awarded a grant by our municipality).
And some are much smaller:
Sourcing wholesome local food as much as possible
Sourcing food and products with as little packaging and waste as possible
Preserving local food including drying, fermenting or canning to minimize our need for imports through the winter months
Sourcing and spliting fallen trees for firewood
Growing some of our own food and herbs
DIY projects such as making a solar dehydrator, filter for the duck pond, or cold frames
Hanging our laundry to dry
Making our own maple syrup from sap tapped from the trees on our property
Using less plastic and minimizing our trash production
Rather than describing where we live, homesteading, for us, is about the choices we make. We choose to opt in. What about you?
We hope you will follow along with us on this journey and jump in whenever it strikes you, one project at a time.