How To Get Started With Apartment Homesteading

Many people start dreaming about home when they are living in an apartment in the city. Actually that’s how I started! I was living in a shared flat in downtown Toronto, dreaming of a more self-sufficient life.

The good news is that you don’t need an acre of farmland to get started. Apartment homesteading is a viable option, and a great way to get started where you are.

What is Apartment Homesteading?

The best way to answer this is that it is a mini version of household life. It’s about being as self-sufficient as possible, working with what you have available.

When most people envision homeownership, they probably think of closed cabins on vast, rolling parcels of land. There may be chickens or cows running around, broad fields of crops, perhaps a blacksmith’s pit or pottery studio nearby.

So how does this vision translate to apartment living? How can a person be a homeowner if he is in a 700 sq ft apartment?

it’s possible! The key is to focus on what you really want to do and take advantage of what makes you work.

What does the household mean to you?

This is the most important question you can ask yourself right now. Self-reliance can mean different things to different people, not to mention the different aspects that take on different priority levels.

For example, a person’s idea of ​​a household might include growing and preserving as much of their own food as possible. They can dream of collecting fresh eggs from their chickens in the morning, spending days making cheese from their goats’ milk, and producing canned produce every weekend.

For someone else, this may mean making heirloom quilts, baking bread from scratch, making herbal medicine, and carving wood.

Make a list of the things you want to do, and the things you have to work with

Carry your journal, a pen, and a delicious drink. Then sit down and write down all the things you dream of doing as a homeowner. Next, put them in order of priority: not only is the one you think will be the most important thing to do, but the one you’ll love doing the most.

Now that you’ve written down all the lovely things you dream of doing, it’s time to focus on what you can work with. Apartment homesteading may be on a smaller scale, but you can still do a lot with it.

Spend time looking at your entire apartment over the course of a few days. Sketch if you can, with notes about the areas that get the most light. Knowing where the light falls can give you a solid idea of ​​what types of edible plants you can grow and where.

Next, write down the areas you want to improve on. For example, do you want to eliminate as much plastic from your home as possible? Maybe replace those items with handmade, long-lasting pieces made from natural materials? Make a triage list of things you can change right away versus those that need a little more time to take care of.

How about outer space? Does your apartment have a balcony or patio? See if there is any ceiling area you will be allowed to work with. Perhaps talk to your landlord to see what options there are regarding communal use of outdoor space.

What about time and budget? If you work from home, you will have more time available to take care of plants and animals. As far as budget is concerned, can you fill your space with lots of organic soil and organic fabric? What can you spend?

Make a second list of materials and supplies you can buy or trade

Let’s say you dream of making homemade cheese, but you can’t fit cows or goats in your studio apartment. Is there a farmers market or organic health food store nearby? See if they carry the kind of milk you want to turn into cheesy deliciousness. This is one way to become more self-sufficient with the resources available to you.

Does your downstairs neighbor have yard space they don’t use? Ask them if you can use it to grow foods, and share the crop with them in exchange for using the space. That way, you both benefit: you’ll have more outdoor space to play with, and they’ll get free vegetables and herbs.

Do you want to start knitting or sewing your own clothes and household items? Check out some of the trading sites and groups online and see what you can exchange. You may be able to get bags of cloth or thread in exchange for some skin care products or a few jars of canned tomatoes.

make a venn diagram from those lists

Now that you have your dream projects ranked in order of priority, draw a simple Venn diagram from the information above. You can use this to determine what projects you can do which include the following:

  • Homesteading Projects You’ll Actually Want to Do
  • available space and resources to do so

By doing this, you will be able to narrow down your (many) options to those that are actually possible.

Pick a few apartment homesteading projects to start

Now that you have a solid list of projects you really want to do and have the means to do it, pick two or three of them. Most people want to dive into this stuff right away and get started, but it can be overwhelming. It’s easy to bite off more than you can chew.

When this happens, instead of feeling empowered and proud of the work you are doing, you will be tired and annoyed.

For now just pick a few and focus on it. Even better, try to choose a few that complement each other. Here are some combinations you might want to try:

  • Grow dye plants, dye homemade yarn, weave or weave with the said yarn
  • Cultivate healing herbs, make herbal soaps from scratch, make a variety of medicines
  • Grow some heirloom tomatoes and herbs, make/preserve homemade salsas, sauces, etc.
  • pick up some angora rabbits, twist their fibers, weave things with yarn
  • replace plastic containers with glass/metal/wood, carve your own utensils

Or any other combination you like! It is meant to inspire you to take the necessary steps towards self-reliance in your own space. You may be surprised to learn how much you can do with apartment homesteading. This is true even if you live in a small studio flat!

Take full advantage of everything available

When I started, I only had a small patio and a few sunny windows to work in (and most of them overlooked the parking lot). I set up some small tables in front of the most beautiful windows and grew vegetables on them. I made macrame hangers for containers, filled them with herbs, and grew them in every room in the house.

There are many vegetables and herbs that thrive in partial sun or shade. Make hanging baskets of lettuce, lemon balm, etc. and hang them everywhere. Build a living herb wall from an old pallet and place it in the living room. Scour social media for free glass jars and store all your dry goods, herbs, spices, and more in them.

Work with what you have, and grow your projects little by little. You can achieve much more than you can imagine, and every small step will lead you to your home dreams.

Most importantly, have fun!

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