Sharing The Solutions That Turned My House into a Homestead
Tenth Acre Farm got its start as a suburban homestead on one-tenth of an acre in Cincinnati, Ohio; surrounded by lawns and American-as-apple-pie, ranch-style homes. In this unlikely place I found my calling as a modern homesteader and established a connection with a yard that was surely never expected to be anything more than lawn.
Leaving a Career
At age 33, I shocked my colleagues by abruptly leaving my career as a high school teacher to literally play in the dirt. The reality was that my actual work in the classroom didn’t quite match the ideals that had led me to become a teacher. My health began to decline and my personal relationships suffered due to my unhappiness.
In a daring moment of desperation, I quit my job. I began helping to manage a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program that feeds 100 families, and I also took on work as a gardening apprentice, though I had never gardened before. The apprenticeship was supposed to be a temporary agent of healing for a dissatisfied soul; a pit stop before jumping back into the job market.
Yet the more I engaged in gardening and the art of homemaking, the more I began to respect modern homesteading as a viable alternative to work outside the home. The book Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture assured me that I wasn’t the only one to make this transition from a professional career to homemaker.
I became a home economist.
Eventually, a more productive garden and kitchen, strategic budgeting, and small spending reductions together eliminated our need for a second full-time income.
I became a student.
I returned to the land of learning and—through classes and certifications—studied gardening, permaculture, personal health, and community building.
Five years after quitting my teaching job, we ripped out the front lawn and planted an edible landscape. In the same year, I also started a community garden.
It was a fun, challenging, and enlightening journey to turn our little one-tenth acre into a productive landscape that captures water from the roof and supports berry bushes, black raspberries, cherry trees, herbs, perennial flowers, raised vegetable beds, and strawberries.
Sharing What I’ve Learned
When I started the Tenth Acre Farm website in 2013, my intention was to write about my transition from a consumerist lifestyle to being the manager of a micro-farm in my very own yard. I wanted a way to remember my journey.
I had no idea how many people would be interested in making their yards more productive! This website now reaches hundreds of thousands of readers from all around the world every year!
The level of interest readers showed was incredible, and led me to write my first book, The Suburban Micro-Farm: Modern Solutions for Busy People, which was released in December, 2016. I wanted to cover the topics that readers write to me about the most: Tips for turning lawn into a low maintenance garden that is sustainable and ecologically friendly.
We’ve just moved to a beautiful, new 3.3-acre suburban property (2016). As we develop it into an edible and biodiverse permaculture micro-farm, I’ll be sharing my new adventures with you here. I hope you’ll follow along!
Your Micro-Farming Education
Here on the Tenth Acre Farm website, I share the tips I’ve learned from my experiences of developing my own property into a micro-farm, leading the development of a hillside community food forest, and offering garden consultation to local clients. I also share easy lessons in permaculture design that will help you grow food efficiently with ecological integrity.
My goal is to save you time, money, and headache in the garden and kitchen.
No matter if you’re a beginner or a seasoned micro-farmer, a full-time homesteader or a part-time gardener, there will be something here that can increase your yard’s productivity, or save you time or money.
Sometimes, learning on your own can be overwhelming.
Join me in my adventures as I seek to learn and improve my micro-farming skills—successes and failures, alike. After all, learning should be fun (not overwhelming!).
Subscribe to My Weekly Newsletter
The Tenth Acre Farm newsletter includes featured posts and trending articles on topics like permaculture, micro-farming, and suburban homesteading. Here is what the newsletter looks like.
Join the thousands of micro-farmers who already receive the newsletter, and get my FREE 19-page Guide to Organic Soil Amendments when you subscribe. Discover which soil amendments will catapult your garden to the next level!
The Official Bio of Amy Stross
Amy specializes in permaculture gardening and edible landscaping, and enjoys teaching and speaking about these topics.
Some of the classes she has taught include:
- Capturing Rain in the Landscape
- Choosing Plants for the Permaculture Garden
- Growing Community through Community Gardening
- Ideas for Building a Permaculture Edible Landscape
- Stories from the Front Yard: How a Suburban Homestead Builds Community
- Suburban Permaculture
- The Permaculture Yard
She holds a Masters degree in education and has received certification in both Permaculture Design and Community Garden Development.
Her homestead serves as headquarters for writing, cooking, food preservation, and classroom for permaculture topics as they relate to suburban living.
The Tenth Acre Farm website was founded in July of 2013, and her first book, The Suburban Micro-Farm: Modern Solutions for Busy People was released in December, 2016.
13 Random Things About Me
- I have one child. She’s a cat.
Mr. TAF is six years younger than me. Some people say I’m robbing the cradle; we say it’s just smart planning (since women typically live longer than men). Or maybe I’m the only one saying it and he’s just being polite.
- Speaking of my husband, we met on the internet. In a twist of irony, we discovered that he grew up playing in my grandma’s backyard.
- I had a childhood friend who taught me how to eat ants. For some reason, the habit didn’t stick.
- I was so proud of the brownies I made for our childhood lemonade stand that I didn’t taste test them before selling. Turns out I used a cup of salt instead of a teaspoon. My brothers haven’t let me live it down.
- I dislike the feel of velvet with a passion. So when I had an opportunity to ruin some velvet as a child, I went all in: I colored my grandma’s brand-new, lemon-yellow velvet chairs with permanent red marker. Guess I showed that velvet who was boss.
- When I stopped biting my nails I switched to biting the skin around my nails.
- I love yoga, but I’m horrible at it. I can barely touch my toes.
- I majored in veterinary sciences in college, graduated with a masters degree in spanish education, and became a full-time gardener, homesteader, teacher, home economist, community builder, writer, permaculturist…on second thought, I don’t know what I’ve become.
- I’ve been to Latin America four times, Europe three times, and North Africa one time. I was assaulted twice, almost died once, ran out of money once, and almost had my bus hijacked by gun-wielding townies. I’ll let you decide which happened where.
- When I’m not in the garden, I’d rather be traveling. In fact, once upon a time I dreamed of being a travel writer. But then I looked back on my past travel experiences (see #10) and decided it probably wasn’t a good idea.
- What I don’t like: horror movies, parsnips, and “The Greatest Love of All” by Whitney Houston. We had to sing it in high school choir and the song became lodged in my brain on repeat for decades. Sexual Chocolate’s version could win a grammy compared to ours.
- My favorite vegetable is sweet potato. Harvesting and eating sweet potatoes makes me happy.