20 Skills for the Urban Homesteader
December 18th, 2020
5 minute read
When you think of a homestead, what picture comes to mind? It’s probably something involving wide open spaces and maybe a large garden or even some livestock.
Whatever your vision looks like, it probably doesn’t include a cityscape or high-rise apartment building with no lawn. It certainly doesn’t involve long commutes or no-pet clauses. Homesteading, however, is more of a mindset and skills than anything. Here’s a rundown of things you can do right now to get started wherever you are.
The Skills You Need
1. Have the Homesteader Mindset: As mentioned above, homesteading is a thought process as much as it is anything else. Even changing how you think about things can help you get in the right mindset. Milk cartons can be soap molds, grocery bags serve as wastebasket liners, and the list goes on.
2. Baking Bread: Knowing how to make bread means you can also make a wide variety of savory and sweet dishes that use bread as a main ingredient.
3. Making a Bread Starter: Speaking of bread, top truly master it you need to know how to make a starter. Some varieties, like sourdough, require it. Some swear that’s older the starter, the better it is.
4. Processing and Cooking Wild Game: Wild game often requires different handling and cooking techniques than beef or pork; it’s a whole skill unto itself.
5. Preserving Food: Whether you get your vegetables from your own garden or the local produce aisle, preserving is the same. There are many different methods, and even if you’re limited on space you can still get a lot done.
6. Use Space Effectively: If you’re living in the city, then space is at a premium. Storing extra food and supplies will take up far more than just your closet. Before you think you don’t have enough room, start looking at places like under the beds or even behind books on the bookshelf. You can also get racks that hang on the inside of closet doors to use even more of your “dead space.”
7. Learn About Medicinal Herbs and Plants: Modern medicine is great, but plants and herbs can come in very handy for a multitude of minor medical issues.
8. Grow a Windowsill Garden: You can grow a wide variety of cooking and medicinal herbs in small pots right in your kitchen. All you need is a moderately sunny window. Start with easy ones like basil or oregano and move into more advanced medicinal plants.
9. Make Your Own Cleansers: Even if you don’t have a whole farm, you can learn to make many of your household cleaning products, like laundry soap, bar soap, shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion. You can even make them out of natural ingredients.
10. Learn to Compost: The smallest apartment still produces compostable materials, and even if you’re short on space, you can still have a compost bin under your sink.
11. Have a Worm Farm: If you want to really go all out, have a worm farm in your compost bin. They’re easy to start and maintain and will provide your plants with much needed nutrients.
12. Plan Your Meals: It sounds simple (or stupid) but planning your meals is an excellent way to eat healthy, save money and even maximize your space. Rather than stuffing your fridge with fresh veggies that go bad fast, make planned meals and stash them in the freezer, or plan to have a turkey or ham on Sunday and then plan meals around it for the week.
13. Be Part of a Community Garden: In many urban areas, there are community gardens where you can rent a plot for very little, plant your seeds, and work in the garden just like it was your own — to include harvesting all that garden goodness.
14. Learn to Make Things You Buy: Knowing how to knit, crochet and sew can save you money and provide you with additional goods. That also goes for many other types of things too.
15. Forage in Your Backyard: You may not even have a clue about how many edible or even medicinal plants you have growing around you. Learn to recognize what they are and start harvesting … responsibly, of course.
16. Learn to Dry Laundry: It sounds simple, but there’s a trick to it … and it’ll save you a lot of money on your power bill.
17. Make Alcohol: Wine, beer, even hard liquors can be made at home, and if you’re good at it, they’re a lot better than commercial varieties.
18. Learn to Hunt and Fish: Hunting and fishing are critical skills, even if you live in the city. You’ll need to go where the animals are, but you can fill your freezer with excellent, even healthy meat.
19. Cook at Home: You’d surprised how many city dwellers can’t cook well. Becoming a master in the kitchen, however, means you’ll maximize your supplies and produce the absolute best quality food you’ll eat.
20. Know Your Neighbors: In today’s culture, we often don’t want to know our neighbors. Having a solid network of contacts, however, can help with all sorts of situations, including being able to barter for goods and services.
Speaking of Barter…
Being able to negotiate and swap for things is part skill and part art, but you can get a lot of necessary things that way.
Many homesteading skills can be done anywhere. Get started today, doing what you can wherever you are, and you’ll be that much closer to independence and self-sufficiency.
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