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  • The $20 tomato: Homesteading; beautifully hard work

    Tuesday, April 9, 2024   /   by Amy Brown

    The $20 tomato: Homesteading; beautifully hard work

    I would say that about 50% of my buyer requests for homes involve homesteading. It seems to be a modern dream of many. It definitely is one that I have embraced and truly touches my heart. 

    Why are people returning to the basics?

    "Homesteaders are motivated by a range of forces, from a longing to take more control over life to wanting to seek a better diet, says Jessica Shelton, editor of Homestead.org. Most of all, it provides an opportunity to pursue a home life on your own terms."

    The trend for homesteading really kicked off during covid. People were concerned about where their food came from,  how it was grown, and most alarmingly, what happens to me if there is a loss of basic services?

    Homesteading has a broad definition. It can range anywhere from a pot garden on a city balcony to a full fledged self-sustaining farm. Most people have something in between like we do. 


    "McClelland and O’Neill didn’t always intend to pursue a homebound life. While in college before the pandemic, they dreamed of building out a van and living on the road as digital nomads. And for a time, they did. They bought a 20-year-old Chevy diesel van painted in Scooby Doo colors and traveled the country in search of a place to live, only to return to North Carolina a month later.

    We had never even thought about homesteading seriously until covid,” McClelland says. “It made traveling around and moving seem not like an option anymore. We were finally stopped somewhere long enough where we realized we could do this and have a garden. And once we started, it was like, ‘Oh my God, this is the best thing in the world."

    However, many folks don't consider the cost of what it takes to begin a homestead. Homes don't come ready-made with this in place anymore. The house and the land must be converted. Case in point is my own home and what Mark calls "the $20 tomato".

    Mark bought this house in 2017 and it was a shambles. There was a tree on the roof, the basement had flooded and there was 4" of mud lying in it, and the whole house was full of old newspapers, canned goods, and just junk. It took him over 1 year to get the house into livable shape and that was not touching the land. 

    We just began work on the homestead portion this year and it has been a big investment. In order to have animals, you have to have a fence. 

    The property used to be completely open. This is a picture of last year's field for our sorghum planting and harvest which you can see on YouTube. https://youtu.be/jywTMVuS2G0?si=NycwjASuYMIiM1XA

    IMG_6486 2.jpg

    But we wanted chickens and the potential to have other animals so we had to fence it in. The fencing alone was very expensive.


    Then you still need to put in the garden...


    And we decided to add a vineyard since Mark is a former vintner.


    "Homesteading requires many upfront costs, which inflation has only made worse. Prices for lumber, chicken wire and even seeds have skyrocketed. Last year, O’Neill bought panels of wide sheet fencing for $27. Now the cost is closer to $50, he says."

    We were lucky. We had saved and planned for the adventure. But just know that creating the homestead is an investment. 

    You also have to expect the ups and downs that come with farming. This past frost last week, we lost almost half of our vegetables to the cold. 

    But their are plenty of resources and help to guide you through the process. This is Natalie Bogwalker, owner of Wild Abundance, a homestead training center right here near Asheville. 


    She teaches classes on gardening, permaculture, carpentry, and infrastructure. She has been homesteading for over 20 years and even built the home that you see herself out of pine trees on the property.

    I have to say that regardless of the hard work (which I actually love by the way) this way of life has given me a peace and serenity that I really needed. Caring for small living things and seeing food that I grew on my own table creates an incredible feeling of accomplishment and security. It also gives you an eye opening experience knowing that you don't need all of the hustle bustle and stress of the modern world. 

    Life can be done simply with joy in your heart and love in your home.


    For more information on homesteading property possibilities, give me a call!