What is Homesteading?

Between being back at work and Christmas crafting in full swing, it is difficult to find the time to write. But I wanted to take a few minutes to address a question.

What is homesteading?

I have been seeing this question more frequently on Facebook groups and forums. Some argue a strict definition which excludes many and some say that everyone is a homesteader. So, what does it mean to have a homestead?

Historically, homesteading was a strategy used to help colonize lands, specifically in the Americas. The Homestead Act of 1862 granted land parcels (usually 160 acres) to those willing to settle the land. This encouraged many to leave the coastal towns and settle inland. However, by the 1900s, most of the good farming land had been given away.

Today, homesteading often looks much different and serves a different purpose than it once did. Instead of focusing on enticing people to settle throughout a country, modern homesteading focuses on methods of self sufficiency and preserving traditional practices. Homesteading accomplishes these tasks by evaluating what a property can provide in the form of produce, animals, and even supplies.

I believe that homesteading is a mindset and lifestyle. As we settle our properties, we are making them our home. This alone is an aspect of homesteading.

Our urban homestead is not capable of providing all of the food that we require each year. However, this property allows us to grow most of our produce through the summer and allows for a couple beehives. We are also able to practice preserving food, soap making, and other crafting practices.

Someday (hopefully sooner rather than later), I hope to have a larger piece of property that we can run a larger homestead. But until then, we will continue homesteading here on our urban homestead.

As time moves forward, the definition of homesteading continues to evolve. I encourage everyone to practice whatever homesteading techniques interest you. Whether you have 20 acres of hobby farm or are making use of your 1/8 acre suburban property, you are homesteading – and that is something to be proud of!


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