Urban Homesteading, or, Old MacDonald had a backyard farm…

The movement to become more self-sufficient in an urban setting is spreading.  Relearning methods for growing and canning produce, managing gray water, and raising chickens are just a few of the areas addressed in the urban homestead movement.   Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library has many resources to help you decide if backyard homesteading is for you.

The library subscribes to several magazines such as Mother Earth News, Grit, and Natural Home & Garden that are wonderful resources for developing self-sufficiency in an urban setting.  They provide good advice on canning methods, choosing chicken breeds, building structures such as coops and greenhouses, and renewing and reusing instead of discarding.

If you are thinking about keeping domestic fowl or livestock, the first step is to check the city ordinances for your community.  Some communities do not allow domestic fowl or livestock within the city limits.  Others do, but have strict guidelines on housing them.  Title VI of The Code of the City of Topeka, KS outlines what is permissible in keeping fowl and livestock within the city limits.  Topeka’s ordinances are accessible at the library and online.  If you live outside the city limits, we are happy to help you ascertain your community’s ordinances.

Books available in the Home Neighborhood will help you consider, plan, and implement a strategy for becoming self-sufficient.  A few of the titles available are:

The City Homesteader: Self-sufficiency on any Square Footage by Scott Meyer.  No matter if you live in an apartment or on suburban acreage, this book gives great advice on canning, composting, container gardening, and many more subjects.

Homegrown & Handmade: A Practical Guide to More Self-reliant Living by Deborah Niemann.  Are you interested in keeping your own goats and sheep as a “fiber flock”?  Perhaps you are planning a sustainable garden or backyard orchard and need practical advice.  This book gives you the information you need to achieve a more sustainable, organic, and self-reliant life.

The Self-Sufficiency Specialist: The Essential Guide to Designing and Planning for Off-grid Self-reliance by A & G Bridgewater. This is a nuts and bolts guide on becoming self-sufficient whether you live in town or in the country.  The first thing this guide does is help the reader consider what is involved in moving to an off-the-grid and self-sufficient lifestyle.  The guide then gives the reader detailed advice on planning and implementing the changes.

Urban Homesteading: Heirloom Skills for Sustainable Living by Rachel Kaplan and K. Ruby Blume.  Like the others, this book gives the beginner the knowledge they need to become urban homesteaders.  The first few chapters focus on the philosophy of urban homesteading, the state of our environment, and the need to reduce consumption and waste.  Included are instructions for all kinds of projects such as community gardens, bee keeping, canning, and composting

Check-out these and many other resources @ your Library®.

Susan Schafer

I am a Public Services Specialist working in reference and media. Additionally, I work with the Home Neighborhood collection and Book Group in a Bag. Not surprisingly, I like to read, especially mysteries. I love to travel and I have a very long list of places I want to visit.