Modern homesteading is the act of transforming a household from a unit of consumption to a unit of production. The beauty is that this transformation can be done anywhere – city apartment, country farm, suburban home. Homesteading is a lifestyle, and the goal is defining one’s values, living simply, and becoming self-reliant. The self-reliance mission is seeking to produce some of what the household needs, while recognizing the need for interaction and interconnection with the community to meet all needs. We can save money, have deeper relationships, and walk lighter on the earth through the homesteader’s lifestyle.
Here are the top 5 reasons why we have decided to be suburban homesteaders at Tenth Acre Farm:
- Get out of Debt: National average debt per household = $15,000. Keeping up with the Joneses is the dogma of the suburbs and results in more consumerism and debt accumulation. We can protest to government or corporations or to whomever else we think is causing destruction to a healthy economy, but the most power comes from walking away from the treadmill of consumerism and building an independent, meaningful, healthy life. Homesteading is not about a life of denial and asceticism. It’s realizing the hold that impulse buying and instant gratification have on us, and choosing something else. Choice is power.
- Make the Lawn Good for Something: The largest crop in U.S. is Lawn. This is an embarrassing fact about our nation. People around the world would kill to have the little slices of lawn that we perceive to be useless. Suburbanites have an opportunity to redeem ourselves. With only 2% of the American population farming and 20% of them retiring in the next 10 years, the suburbs have an opportunity to contribute to national food security by using their asset (lawn) to produce something of value (food). The culture of American farming is changing. All those suburbs on top of old farmland are about to change their purpose!
- Efficient Use of Time, Space, and Fossil Fuels: One acre of suburban yard has been shown to be THREE TIMES more productive than one acre of farmland. The food is sure to be fresher and healthier, as well. If we can produce more food in yards than we can with farmland, then as a nation we can reduce shipping costs and plastic use, and we can reforest a lot of land.
- Regional Food Security: An American City could produce 100% of its own produce, using existing vacant lots, flat rooftops, and just 9% of each residential yard. If that’s true for an urban environment, just think how the suburbs could rock it.
- Rebuild Community: 16% of the American population moves every year. Suburbanites have become transient while chasing the American dream. Moving is expensive (debt) and community relationships are degrading as people no longer know their neighbors. Growing some food in the yard helps neighbors meet one another and create connections.
Ironically, Vince podcasted about this very same topic yesterday. Listen to his version about Suburban Homesteading!