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What is Homesteading?

What is Homesteading? When you think of homesteading, do you think of moving to a new state, like Alaska, buying property, and building a home on raw land? We suggest a new meaning.

A homestead property.

You may feel an urgency to start homesteading but are also overwhelmed by the idea.

That’s because homesteading used to mean selling your house and moving across the country from the city to the middle of nowhere, buy a large property off-grid and develop it yourself. It meant building your own home in hopes of living your best life.

The spirit of homesteading is much the same as it used to be, but it’s much more accessible to each individual. You can stay right where you are and be a homesteader! 

Sheep in a barn.

Our Passion for Homesteading

Before addressing the definition of homesteading or the word homestead, we want to encourage you to be open-minded. Homesteading is our current way of life and a passion that we want to share with others. 

Our homesteading journey started in an apartment, believe it or not, and we have learned so much along the way. There are many reasons why we encourage you to get started homesteading.

If you’re interested in homesteading, you may want to read these posts on how to get started homesteading, what we wished we knew before we started homesteading, tips for homesteading with children, how to homestead while on a budget, and this post on how to finance your homestead.

A sunny field on a fall day.

The History of Homesteading

In the past, governments gave away land to people to populate it, improve it, and put it into production. People could settle the land and claim a title after they improved it. In the United States, Alaska was the last state to do this. 

Homesteaders walked away from everything they had: friends, family, homes, jobs, farms, communities, and more to a whole new region or even a whole new country in some cases. 

Sometimes these homesteaders ran away from corrupt systems in search of something better or different. They journeyed to foreign lands, leaving all they knew to start over from scratch. 

They learned new skills on new lands with few tools. Struggle, hard work, and ingenuity led to freedom and independence.

Free land represented something. Homesteaders moved away from challenges and the industrial world to create something better. They were leaving the known world on a path of struggle for an opportunity, moving away from comfort to strive for freedom.

Chickens outside in the snow.

Modern Day Homesteading

So, what is homesteading in the US today? Modern homesteaders have the same spirit as the homesteaders of the past. We strive for freedom and work to create our best lives. 

Today people may desire to move away from modern living to raw land to develop it and live off the land or start a farm and live a homestead lifestyle. But, more people are homesteading than you may think, engaging in many different types of homesteading endeavors. 

Homesteading captures the spirit of “moving away” from industrial systems. You can do this right where you are. You can engage in urban homesteading or suburban homesteading. You do not necessarily have to move to a new piece of rural land to capture this spirit.

A pantry with shelves lined with home canned food.

What Are We “Moving Away” From? 

Living off-grid is a buzzword people throw around, often interchanged with the term homesteading. The term off-grid generally refers to electricity and water. But, there are many more systems tied to “the grid.” 

The Food System

Our food system, the grocery store system, is tied to the grid. The grocery industry controls what is available to the consumer, making it challenging to keep healthy food in the home. There are ways that homesteading can save money on food

But if you are not growing your own food, you can still learn how to save money on groceries, beat inflation at the grocery store, prepare for inflation and food shortages, and even learn urban foraging skills.

A woman reaching for herbal oils in a cupboard.

The Medical System

The medical system is part of “the grid.” We do not have control or access to healthcare when we need it. And much of healthcare is designed to treat the sick instead of keeping individuals healthy. But, as homesteaders, we can go “off-grid” with our health and look to food as medicine like people living in Blue Zones.

The medical system and the food system are linked. Getting healthy, quality, affordable foods for individuals and families is difficult, leading to more illnesses and locking us into a broken medical system where we have very few freedoms.

Check out some of our posts on growing a medicinal herb garden, how to get started with herbs, medicinal herbs and their uses, and how to use herbs in an emergency until medical help arrives. Then consider taking my masterclass Herbal Medicine Cabinet: Colds & Flu

A pond with green all around it.

The Electrical and Water Systems

Of course, the electrical system and water systems are part of the grid. Many people look to create their own energy systems and sustainable water systems

There are many things to consider when going off-grid. But, you may not be aware of the secondary health benefits of going off-grid

The Education System

The education system is part of the industrial grid. Homeschooling can free you from the modern education system. 

Children at a table doing school work.

Start Slowly

Starting slowly is vital! Little by little, learn the skills needed to gain independence and freedom from the modern-day grid.

Anytime you step away from industrial systems or from “the grid,” you engage in homestead activities. 

As a modern-day homesteader, you can grow a few tomatoes in your backyard, taking your first step to breaking the chains of the food grid. It gives you a little bit more freedom and a little bit more health.

Use the space you currently have and work into developing more homesteading modes. Build your skills slowly and prioritize your homestead projects. You can take small risks instead of risking everything like the homesteaders of the past. 

Starting too big leads to burnout. People crash when they try to move too fast, so start homesteading on a small scale.

Jars of dried herbs on a counter.

Producer Vs. Consumer

Homesteading today is about the mindset of being a producer instead of a consumer. Instead of asking, what can I buy? Ask, “What can I make, mend, repair, create, or produce?” Learn how to be self-sufficient

For anything to be sustainable, you must produce more than you consume. Work to increase everything you do. Make a little extra to stash away for a rainy day. Give something away to a neighbor. Sell something you already have on hand. 

Develop the skills to be a producer. You don’t have to go out and buy 50 acres of raw land to be a homesteader. Actually, it may not be successful if you try to do this without the mindset of being a producer. 

A woman holding up a loaf of artisan bread.

Change Your Mindset

Start by switching your mindset right where you are, and be confident in calling yourself a homesteader. Even if you find yourself in an apartment without your own land, you can start developing skills like making bread or learning to cook from scratch. 

Engage in growing and preserving your food on a small scale. 

So, what is homesteading? Homesteading is taking any step that breaks the chains of the different systems that hold us back from the freedom we want. We want to see more people doing this. We can build a collective improvement, and we can build resilience

You are only as strong as your weakest neighbor, so share your successes with others and help them become homesteaders.

A mother and her children direct sowing seeds into the garden.

Are We Crazy?

Homesteaders in the past left everything. They sold off everything. And, yes, others thought they were crazy.  Even today, others may call you crazy. They may wonder why you would go through all this trouble growing your food when you could just go to the grocery store. 

To be a modern homesteader, at least one person will call you crazy. That means you are on the right track! You are stepping off the wide path onto the narrow path. 

Take heart; there is a large community of people out there who are doing it! We hope the homesteading family can support you as you fearlessly work to create your best life. 

Man and woman sitting in the kitchen with books on the counter in front of them.

More Homesteading Resources

A man and wife smiling.

Welcome to Homesteading Family!

Josh and Carolyn bring you practical knowledge on how to Grow, Cook, Preserve and Thrive on your homestead, whether you are in a city apartment or on 40 acres in the country. If you want to increase your self-sufficiency and health be sure to subscribe for helpful videos on gardening, preserving, herbal medicine, traditional cooking and more.

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