Urban homesteading is much more than just growing your own food, raising backyard chickens and goats, canning, and preserving – it’s a way of life. Everyone homesteads for different reasons. For some, it’s a fun hobby. For others, like myself, it’s a way to step away from our industrial food system, if even for a season, to connect with His creation that provides nourishing food for our families.
I was so excited by the response that I received from many of you of the tour of my urban homestead (on this blog and on instagram alike). I received great feedback and many good questions about how to start a rural or urban homestead. Many of you would love to start your own urban or rural homestead but the fear of devaluing your home, receiving negative feedback from neighbors, and limited funds have prevented you from starting.
I completely understand all of your concerns. Since starting my own urban homestead nearly 10 years ago, I’ve had many of the same questions myself. Were my efforts going to be criticized by my neighbors, would I devalue my home if I were to want to sell it in the future, and then the biggest question and issue has always been funding. How can I create something that has curb appeal with limited funds.
Today I’m going to share with you five budget friendly strategies to creating an urban (or rural) homestead of your dreams. Again, if you haven’t had a chance to look at my own homestead and what I’ve been able to create over the past decade, click on over to my urban homestead tour here.
5 Budget Friendly Strategies to Creating an Urban Homestead of your Dreams!
Stategy #1: It Takes a Team To Build an Urban Homestead
How is this a budget friendly strategy? Well, if you don’t have a team and you try to go at this alone, you’re productivity is going to suffer or you’ll end up hiring a lot of the work out. Whether your in an urban or rural setting, it takes a lot of time, energy, and commitment to building and maintaining a homestead. Because of this, it’s imperative that your significant other is 100% on board and willing to help you in this endeavor.
Gabe and I, we work on our homestead together. He builds everything needed for our homestead and tends to the chickens. My job is to keep our gardens growing strong. As a team, we’re able to rejoice in the fruits of our labor. Now that my boys are getting older, they’re also starting to be an integral part of our homestead. Big Brother is now in charge of our new chickens and soon enough will take over chicken keeping all together. As the family grows and more food is needed on our table, it’s going to take much more work to keep our homestead running smoothly. So as a team, we’re able to get the job done, together.
You may be thinking, “well, my husband or wife is not on board.” That’s okay. Let your significant other know about your desires. Open the lines of communication, pray together, and allow them to understand why you want to start an urban homestead. From there, you can move onto Strategy #2.
Strategy #2: Start Small
Once your significant other is on board (or at least on board to allow you to get your feet wet in homesteading), my second budget friendly strategy is to start small.
I planted my very first garden in 2004.
Although my smallest garden, it’s the most memorable for me. It was a small plot in my backyard where I grew tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. I’m pretty sure I did everything wrong that you can do in gardening that year, but it still produced fruit unlike anything I had ever tasted before. My first garden opened up my heart to the wonders of growing your own food and from then on, I’ve expanded a little, year by year.
Very similar to gardening, when I decided to start keeping chickens, we started with a small flock of 3 hens. It allowed my family to see if this chicken thing was for us. Since then, year by year, our flock of hens has grown. We now like to keep at least 12 laying hens to meet the needs of our family.
By starting small, it allows you to test the waters to see what fits for your family. Maybe you’re not into gardening, that’s okay. By starting small, and only tearing up a small piece of your yard, you can easily take the garden out, reseed it, and be done with it. The exact same thing with a small flock of hens. If it’s not for you, that’s okay as well. You can always sell a small chicken coop or tractor on craiglist pretty easily.
By starting small, you’re able to keep your investment down.
Strategy #3: Upcycle
My third budget friendly strategy to creating the urban homestead of your dreams is to upcycle. By upcycle, I mean to reuse discarded objects or material in such a way as to create a product of a higher quality or value than the original. As long as you’re a committed diy’er, you can reuse different materials in all sorts of ways.
Gabe has upcycled pallets to use as garden fence (picture above), old lumber to build this chicken coop (which ended up costing us about $100)…
and recycled plastic drums to use as rain barrels.
If we can find the materials for free or cheap, we’re all about the DIY!
A great place to check into for free or cheap materials is Craigslist. In the spring, I check it just about every day. During the spring people are renovating and getting rid of all sorts of materials including mulch, compost, manure, lumber, pallets, and even plants as they separate bulbs, roots, and runners.
Another great source to look for cheap but useful materials is your local Weston Price Foundation group. Remember, this group is filled with homesteaders and diy’ers. I purchased my plastic drums from this group and have also been able to get free raspberry transplants and other vegetable starts as well. It’s a great group to be a part of!
Strategy #4: Make Your Own Compost
If you’re going to be growing a garden, you will have to amend your soil as the vegetables pull nutrients from the soil as they grow. This is why my #4 budget friendly strategy to creating an urban homestead of your dreams is to start a compost pile.
It’s a cost efficient way to put to use good waste from your own home. My compost piles are a combination of pine shavings, chicken poop, vegetable scraps, tree leaves, and grass clippings. To learn more about making your own compost check out Composting 101 on my friend Emily’s blog, Live Renewed.
Strategy #5: Save Seeds and Grow Your Own Starts
One of my biggest expenses, that I’ve been able to cut down on, year by year, is in buying seeds. It’s quite amazing to me how much a small packet of seeds cost, when the flowers, herbs, or vegetables from which they come from produce their own seeds prolifically. If you look at the image above, that one calendula flower that went to seed would fill an entire packet that would cost you around $3.00. That same plant, in one season, will produce more than 50 packets of seeds. You see what I mean? You can save a lot of money (and even make some) by saving the seeds of flowers, herbs, and vegetables.
I’m still learning about saving seeds as some types of vegetables, like brassicas, produce seeds on their second year. However, the more you learn about seed saving, the more you’ll save on money and you’ll have the added bonus of creating a truly sustainable homestead.
Just as saving seeds is budget friendly strategy so is starting your own plants from seeds. Since I plant at least 10 tomato plants per year, I save quite a bit of money by saving my own tomato seeds and then starting them at home. Please visit my post, Organic Gardening 101, to learn how to start your own seeds at home.
These 5 budget friendly strategies are ways that I significantly keep my costs low on my homestead. I’m sure I’ve missed quite a few other strategies to creating an urban homestead on a limited budget so if you have any other strategies that I’ve missed, please share them with us in the comments below.