You want to be a homesteader and you can’t wait to get started!
I understand that feeling. Once the “sustainability bug” bites you, it seems that you can’t get enough of Mother Earth News magazines and seed catalogs! However, most of us don’t have enough time in the day to make all of the mistakes ourselves. Not to mention the fact that most of us don’t have money to blow due to the fact we have no idea what we’re doing.
By taking it slow and methodical, you’ll be a better homesteader in the long term.
Take the Time to Learn About Your Farming Community:
This approach will take some time, but will reap benefits in your own sustainable living efforts for years to come.
1. Locate Farmer’s Markets Near You- Not sure where your Farmer’s Markets are? No problem. Check out www.localharvest.org. You can also check in your local papers and health food store bulletin boards.
2. Frequent Farmer’s Markets – By doing this, you’ll gain a lot of information about what grows well in your area, as well as what the going rates are. Farmers and other vendors typically love to chat and will offer a world of education that you can’t get anywhere else.
3. Buy local – Once there, spend some of your money with these farmers. Prices might be a little higher, but that’s the “real” price of food, as opposed to the artificial discounts of the big stores.
4. Notice the array of industry – At a farmer’s market, you’ll certainly find farmers, but you’ll also find a number of other vendors who create other things like pottery, fabric arts, woodcrafts, clothing, garden tools, etc. You don’t have to be able to grow food to be a homesteader! While it’s helpful, it’s not a deal breaker. If you are creative in other ways, you can always barter with your skills for the things you need.
5. U-Pick Farms – I love u-pick farms. Until I could grow my own, I was always keeping tabs on when fruit was ready to be picked. I not only learned a lot about when fruits and vegetables come into season, but I learned about what good fruit should look like and about diseases as well. Great education!
Do Your Homework:
1. Read, read, read! – Not all gardening and homesteading books are created equal, so make good use of your public library. Only buy the books that will serve you long term as reference books. Here are a few recommendations (although there are so many good ones!):
2. Get familiar with your local extension office – The county extension office will generally offer classes about things homesteaders love and for a very reasonable price, if not downright free. They are a tremendous source of information and resources. I love my extension office.
3. Follow informational blogs and websites – Yep, like The Morristribe. Once again, why not learn from those who have already made the mistakes?
1. Find the gardeners – Experienced gardeners can help you be successful in more ways than one. Find the gardeners in your neighborhood, place of employment or church. Let them know that you’re interested in homesteading and see if they have room in their lives to be a mentor.
Another way to locate the gardeners in your neighborhood is to peek at their backyards. Look for those with gardens, they are usually the best ones to get to know.
2. 4-H – The four clovers can offer you a world of education that you never even knew was out there! Our first year of 4H was just one of observation and listening. We met a lot of great people and learned a lot, just by showing up.
3. Word of mouth – Keep asking, keep listening….you’ll find the right folks.