Every Friday in June I will be sending out a free signed copy of any one of my books with a personal message to one lucky reader to either keep for themselves or give to someone in need.
If you had a quarter of an acre, could you feed your family?
Urban homesteaders, a growing movement that is helping people pro-actively prepare for the worse-case end-times scenario, are foregoing the 4-inch manicured astro-turf look and transforming their yards into working, dynamic farms. In her book The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre! author Carleen Madigan claims that one urban-homesteader has sustainably harvested 1,400 eggs, 50 pounds of wheat, 60 pounds of fruit, 2,000 pounds of vegetables, 280 pounds of pork, 75 pounds of nuts in a single year all from a 10,000 sq foot (quarter acre) plot of suburbia.
Are Hip Urban Families Trading In Farmville For Actual Farms?
Urban homesteaders might not quite think of themselves as “hip” but I’ve thought they were cool ever since I was a kid.
I grew up in South Philadelphia in the 1970s surrounded by concrete and abandoned city plots where bare dirt patches collected pop cans and cigarette butts. Connecting with the Earth was only made possible by reserving a spot in a community garden–something my mom did.
Years later, I was inspired to write Deep Nutrition in part by my experiences living on Kauai’s South side. There, families from all over Southeast Asia practiced their own brand of urban homesteading year round, producing a constant stream of unusual vegetables such as foot-long green beans and wrinkly cucumber looking-things, raising goats and pigs and keeping chickens, and processing fresh-caught fish (sometimes at 4 in the AM, 10 feet from my bedroom window).
The Family That Homesteads Together, Stays Together
Although gardening has been a part of American culture since our country’s inception and long before, the urban homestead movement is relatively recent, becoming popular just in the last few decades. In much of the rest of the world, however, urban homesteading is an intrinsic aspect of daily life.
And there’s a good reason for this: Not only does a small functioning farm provide a family with year-round sustenance, it makes it far easier to raise children who understand the benefits of hard work, responsibility, sustainability, and connecting to nature.
By working with the land and the animals they raise in these mini-ecosystems, children get first-hand experience with the cycles of nature, from weather patterns and moon phases to the cycles of birth and death–a spiritual antidote for our sani-wrapped, boneless skinless world.
In my experience practicing in Hawaii and elsewhere, adults who grew up in a farming culture were not only some of the most physically healthy, they were also better equipped emotionally to deal face the difficulties of sickness and death with humanity and dignity.
Could our modern, more limited set of life experience limit a child’s emotional development? I believe it may.
Of course, not all of us have the time, space, or physical stamina to take out the familiar green lawn and dig into the cold wet dirt of late fall and early spring — or to challenge the town planning ordinances (which often label chickens and goats ‘nuisance’ animals). But we can all learn from our neighbors who are boldly going where no soccer mom has gone before by checking out some of the many books now being written on the art of urban homesteading. Or easier still, check out Laurie Neverman’s fascinating blog here: http://commonsensehomesteading.blogspot.com/2011/07/book-review-and-giveaway-deep-nutrition.html
Not only does she write an interesting and practical blog, but she has excellent taste in books. She’s running a contest right now in which five lucky fans of her site will win a copy of Deep Nutrition!