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Photo by jspatchwork. Feature image by Bradstreet.
Who says you can’t have a farm in the backyard of your inner-city home? Urban homesteading is a lifestyle based on self-sufficiency, encouraging families to reduce consumption while engaging with nature on a deeper level, all from within the city.

URBAN HOMESTEADERS can grow their own food and stockpile it for the winter, raise chickens, and yield rainwater for household purposes. Some families even practice making homemade crafts, like soapmaking, and use solar energy to power their greenhouses.

While there are some obvious restrictions, like climate and lack of space, nearly any family can create a home-based economy.

Urban Homesteaders Are Nice People

Community connections are an important part of this lifestyle: one of the rules of being an urban homesteader is being a good neighbour. The Dervaes family from Pasadena, California, suggest in their 10 Elements of Urban Homesteading to always lend a hand for free. Additionally, events focusing on jam making, wine production and other home-based activities attract people of like-minds from all over.

Photo by david owen

Urban homesteaders are also always willing to share their knowledge. Dozens of blogs like the Urban Homesteader offer a wide variety of resources for being self-sufficient, including recipes and crop cultivation tips. Cool off with homemade naturally sweet tea? Don’t mind if I do.

No lie, converting your modern home to an urban homestead is a tough move — one that requires patience and time — but the long-term benefits of living green are outstanding. Organic foods are easy on the body and easy on the planet. Using bio-fuels, taking public transportation, and growing your own crops are huge money-savers.

Plus the workload encourages the whole family to participate, so drag the kids off the couch and have them tend the chicken coops.


Have you created a urban homestead? Share your experiences in the comments.

Home + GardenEnvironment


About The Author

Candice Walsh

Candice Walsh is a Professional Experience Collector and full-time writer, blogger, and inventor of job titles that don't make much sense. She's based out of St. John's, Newfoundland. Follow her website for more shenanigans.

  • Paul Sullivan

    This is inspiring! Thanks Candice…

  • Michelle

    Very cool!

  • Austin Chu

    These are awesome tips. I live in SF, and I have a huge backyard. I think it’s time.

  • Robyn

    This is a great article – here are a couple other links for inspiration and ed :
    check out Homegrown Evolution and their book on the right side of the webpage – – lots of good info about retrofitting an urban home to reuse grey water, etc.

    Also, I recently read Farm City : The Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter – here is a NY times review

    And her blog Ghost Town Farm – (she raises meat animals, note to vegetarians)

    • Leigh Shulman

      Great links, Robyn! Thanks!

  • Abbie

    You can also use one of those windowsill planters and create an herb garden :)

  • Candice Walsh

    Thanks! I wonder how a homestead like this would fair in my city? The day started out sunny and warm, and now I’m in the middle of a hailstorm.

  • Carlo

    Great ideas…we try to keep our own herbs going. Sometimes the rosemary tends to dry out in the 40 deg C heat.

    • Candice

      Hah, opposite problem here, frostbite!

  • Hal Amen

    Victory gardens, baby!

    Nice work, Candice. I hadn’t heard of this (at least the Urban Homesteading manifestation).

    • Candice

      Thanks! Me neither to be honest, it was really fun to research.

  • Theodore Scott

    Like many changes, it is easy when taken one step at a time.

    I started several years ago with a couple potted tomato plants. Every couple months my wife and I try something new – like planting a fruit tree, or learning to make butter. Eventually it adds up to a large skill set.

    I bake every loaf of bread (basic sandwich, baguettes, pita, tortillas, focaccia, pizza, and many others). We make nearly all our food from scratch, including ice cream. Right now, we have five fruit trees and a grape vine. I lined part of our fence with raspberry, blueberry, and blackberry bushes. We grow herbs and vegetables inside and outside. We compost all our kitchen scraps and then feed it to our garden.

    It doesn’t seem like a lot, until I look back and realize how much we have learned.

    Our first child is due in less than a month – which bring all sorts of new considerations. Cloth diapers? Making our own baby food? Handmade toys? My wife has been knitting baby clothes. I am building furniture for the baby’s room – two years ago I didn’t even own a saw.

    And yes, we still travel when we feel like it.

    In short, pick one new skill and try it out. Repeat.

    • Leigh Shulman

      Great advice! One step at a time. Otherwise it can all feel a bit overwhelming.

    • Candice

      Amazing, definitely a learning process. I definitely want to jump on the urban homesteading bandwagon, although I think my knitting skills will need some work.

  • Dona

    Reading this post really got me thinking about the feasibility of urban homesteading in a cold climate like Atlantic Canada. Here’s what I came up with:

    Thanks for the inspiration Candice!

  • neha

    Loved this! Need to make things greener around the house, am booking marking this as step 1.

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