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  • Urban Homesteading

    Thursday, February 15, 2024   /   by Amy Brown

    Urban Homesteading

    "Moving to the country, I'm gonna eat a lot of peaches" ("Peaches" by The Presidents of the United States). If you haven't heard the song, you really should listen to it as it's quite funny...and very applicable to today's article!

    https://youtu.be/do5KKKxI7FQ?si=Y4gEMy-hCoIr6tmQ

    What exactly is urban homesteading?

    This is a sustainable living movement that has really made quite the impact here in Asheville. And contrary to popular belief, you don't have to be a foodie, hippie, plant lady, or have a cat!

    Urban homesteading means growing at least some of your own food, practicing sustainability as much as you can, and reconnecting with nature. And you don't have to have a ton of acreage or a big yard to enjoy digging in the dirt and eating a bit of what you grow.

    1. Becoming your own farmer

    While it does take a bit more work, the first step is going to be growing your own food (or at least some of it) and cooking homemade.

    You can do this with a box or bucket garden on your porch or if you have a small yard,  you can till a small garden area. The best foods to start out with for the beginner will be things that are hearty and easier to grow such as tomatoes (easy in a bucket), cucumbers, herbs, peppers, and squash. Try to stay away from "climbers" unless you have the space like beans and peas or "crawlers" that expand out like watermelon and canteloupe.

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    Herbs are super easy and can be grown in small pots in your window. It's also really fun to take your freshly grown herbs and season your dishes. Favorite window herbs are thyme, sage, basil, mint, and rosemary. And they make the house smell really nice.

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    Now to become a bit of a country chef. If you really want to get into food storage, you can learn to can. While it can be a grand production, it only has to last for a day and you can use some of the things that you grow. The best things to can are spaghetti sauce, salsa, soups, jams, creamed corn, beans, and pickles. You can pick up canning jars at any grocery store, boil them, start cooking, and get them sealed. This will be a great way to have meal prep done in advance; just make sure that you have a place to store the jars out of the sunlight like a basement, cellar, or pantry. 

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    Let's talk animals! I don't think that there is a single person who doesn't love farm animals. They are so cute! But only one type is really going to work in an urban homestead; chickens. While you have to have the yard space for this, having your own fresh eggs can be a lot of fun. You will have to invest in either building a coop or buying one but chickens themselves are fairly cheap and don't cost a lot to feed. 

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    There is only one urban area in Asheville that allows chickens and that's West Asheville. 
    Remember, no HOAs, planned communities or subdivisions will allow chickens so keep that in mind if this is something that you would like to do.

    2. Sustainable Living

    If you live in a single family, some energy companies provide incentives on your electricity bill if you install solar panels. While that is an expensive approach, it is one that could save you some money on your annual energy costs. 

    A more cost affordable sustainable living practice is composting and you can use it in your box or bucket garden. The easiest way is to add a food scrap trash container to the kitchen and then take the food scraps down to a bucket in your basement or backyard. It takes 6-12 months to make good composting soil to use in the garden. Remember, that composting also includes cardboard and paper products. 

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    Other ways to live sustainably is to shop at your local farmer's market (Asheville has a ton of them!) and to upcycle old materials like turn old candle jars into planters or finish wood scraps that you have hanging around and turn them into shelves. Let your creative DIY side out!

    3. Reconnecting with your roots

    The reason to urban homestead is a personal choice but this should be in the forefront of your mind when considering it. Do it because it makes you happy! Work done with joy is not work at all and you might be surprised by the satisfaction that you achieve by receiving a return on the fruits of your labor. 

    Anyone can be a farmer, no matter if you live in the city or the country...and you don't need a peach tree!

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