- By: Brandon Garrett
- Posted on: March 15, 2013
Homesteading has a rich history in the United States. The idea was used to populate and explore the wild frontiers of our country. However, in recent decades, the idea has transformed into something new.
Below, we explain a little about what homesteading is and how you can do it. While you might not be able to apply all aspects of homesteading, there are many activities involved in it that will make you and our family more self-reliant and self-sufficient.
What is Homesteading
Homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency that typically involves subsistence agriculture, food preservation, creating your own clothing and textiles, and maintaining your own house and property.
In history, philosophers like John Locke, wrote about a homesteading principle. The idea was that someone could gain ownership of something solely on the principle that they had labored to make it:
“Though the earth and all inferior creatures be common to all men, yet every man has a property in his own person. This[,] nobody has any right to but himself. The labour of his body and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever, then, he removes out of the state that Nature hath provided and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with it, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property.” – John Locke
In other words, if a farmer used unowned land to plant crops, he owned that food and could sell it as such. Other philosophers have also debated that the farmer would henceforth own that property. This idea crystallized into many capitalist ideas that our society has been based on.
You may remember reading about the Homestead Act (1862) in history class. The government used the idea to populate new areas of the U.S. The idea that a person could own their own property and become independent from any entity or person struck a chord with Americans. Thousands of Americans pushed forward to settle the frontier and make it habitable for others that would follow.
The back-to-the-earth ideals made a comeback in the 1960s and applied these self-sufficient principles to an urban and suburban setting, also known as urban homesteading. Instead of moving to an isolated location, urban homesteaders focus on self-sufficiency while still maintaining their relationship with the community.
In recent years, the idea has resonated with people who worry about their dependence on the economy. Instead of putting their trust in a government or entity, they have moved to a more independent economic situation.
How to Begin Homesteading
Gather Supplies. Homesteading is about being self-sufficient, that means being able to have all the tools, home-space, clothes or materials that you’ll need. Don’t think that you have to have everything in storage that you’ll ever need for the rest of your life. You’ll be able to use items to barter or trade. Many items will be self-sustaining and be able to be sold later on down the road.
Plant a Garden. The garden is a perfect example of an income. With a permaculture attitude towards gardening, you’ll be able to plant once and sow for years to come. Be sure to have land and space to store your food once you’ve harvested.
Have Food Storage. The trick to homesteading is to be able to have food when you need it. Growing your own food in the garden That could mean canning your foods out of the garden or using freeze-dried foods that last for 30 years.
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