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Even after sorting through the madness of food labels at the grocery store (and still never getting it 100% right), I discovered the food I was buying was anywhere from 2 weeks to 11 months old and had lost most of its nutritional value.
And there was still the rat race.
Fortunately, I discovered how others were getting these two birds with one stone.
What is Homesteading (Does It Still Exist)?
Even though you can no longer homestead by receiving free land from the US government, homesteaders today have adapted the definition to mean growing one’s food, living self-sufficiently, and sometimes—living off the grid.
How is Homesteading Different Than Farming?
Generally, homesteading is when you grow food for your household, while farming is when you grow food to make a profit. Homesteads that also sell their products are sometimes called farmsteads.
How To Start Homesteading (3 Steps)
Homesteading can range from growing a few plants on an apartment balcony to managing a large orchard across many acres. Sewing, cooking, preserving, carpentry, livestock, and other skills also make up homesteading.
To simplify it even further, here are 3 easy steps for you to start your homestead journey.
If our dream homestead is a car, inspiration is the spark that ignites the engine.
It’s inspiration that carries us to knowledge and beyond (and this is true for most skills, not just homesteading).
So, before jumping into homesteading, take some time to see what amazing things other homesteaders are doing and get some ideas and inspiration!
To get you started, here are some of my favorite homesteading videos that always get me inspired.
If you’re more of a book person, I got you covered.
These are my 3 favorite homesteading books:
- The Rooted Life by Justin Rhodes
- Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway
- Practical Permaculture by Dave Boehnlein and Jessi Bloom
And if you’d like something in-person, I can’t recommend farmer’s markets enough.
They were essential for me to find fresh food before I could grow it myself. No more old, Frankenstein food at the grocery store! Food directly purchased from farmers is most often grown in better soil—giving it more nutrients and an incredible taste.
Cut the middleman out and buy directly from the farmer.
And most of the time, farmer’s markets are the same price or cheaper than grocery stores (especially if you factor in the health savings over the years).
When I take friends and family to my local farmer’s market they say, “I wish I had this back home!”. And I say, “But you do!”.
I then point them to the USDA’s Local Food Directory to find their local farmer’s markets.
Make sure your farmer’s market vendors grow what they sell and aren’t just reselling grocery store produce. This isn’t too common, but don’t be afraid to ask questions!
You can also search for farms near you with Eatwild.com.
If we’re still using our car metaphor, knowledge is the gas that keeps you going.
Once you have some inspiration going, now is the time to act! Gaining knowledge gives us the confidence to build something. And building something locks in that knowledge.
Grow one plant, help another homesteader with their project, or buy three laying hens. Or all of the above!
And if you’re thinking you can’t raise chickens because you live in the suburbs, think again! There’s always a solution. For more details on this secret solution, check out the documentary Permaculture Chickens.
To get you going, here are some skills you can develop to grow your homesteading knowledge:
- Preserving Food
- Making Butter
- Candle Making
- Raising Livestock
- Firewood (Gathering and Splitting)
- Building a Community
And there are many others for you to choose from. Decide on one or two skills and develop them in preparation for your homestead.
If you haven’t already, check out the resources in the above Inspiration section. Those videos, books, and farmer’s markets not only provided me with inspiration, but invaluable knowledge. They’ll help get you that much closer to your dream homestead.
Community is the road you’re driving on—making your journey much less bumpy and reducing your car’s wear and tear. While others pave the way for you in the beginning, you’ll soon be a trailblazer for new people too.
Community is especially helpful when:
- We’re first starting and not seeing results
- We’ve had some success, but inspiration and knowledge fail us and we feel like giving up
There comes a time in most of our lives when we’re so beat down we can’t pick ourselves back up. Community bypasses this—lifting us up again so we can keep going.
Of course, once you’re back on your feet, help others in your community. You’ll not only have the satisfaction of helping others, but you’ll make friends and have support again when you need it!
Here are some quick ways you can get started with a homesteading community:
- Hop in the Couch to Homestead Facebook Group (and say hi!)
- Talk to customers and vendors at your local farmer’s market
- Join Abundance Plus
For me, I recently started the Couch to Homestead Facebook Group. I’m also active in Abundance Plus (pictured above) along with 14,000+ other homesteaders. Feel free to join one or both!
Here’s a recap of the 3 steps to start homesteading:
- Inspiration (Spark)
- Knowledge (Gas)
- Community (Road)
And these 3 steps aren’t linear—they’re circular! No matter which stage you’re at in your journey, revisit Inspiration or any other step when you feel you need it.
About Couch to Homestead
Started at the height of the pandemic, Couch to Homestead helps people go from the couch to the homestead. It’s really that simple. Focused on livestock, food forests, and self-sufficiency, we help you grow your own food and become more secure.
Tyler Ziton is a certified permaculture designer living in Austin, Texas. Originally from Orlando, Florida, Tyler grew up tending citrus trees and helping in the garden. Now, with over 20 years of gardening experience, he earned a Permaculture Design Certificate from Oregon State University and is diving deeper into the abundant world of permaculture. Tyler’s also the author of An Organic Companion Planting Guide.