Can we talk about “The Homesteading Movement” for a minute?
I had a colleague recently ask how our farmstead was different than the farms she sees at the farmer’s market. At first glance, it probably isn’t very different, except we don’t have a dedicated market garden or sell at local markets – we rely on on-farm sales. If we look deeper though, there are probably a myriad of differences – how we approach our land and our lives, not to mention the plants and/or animals we raise. And then there’s the fact that sometimes the market table is merely re-selling produce they bought in bulk from a wholesale auction, often grown by Mennonite or Amish farmers hours away… but I digress.
The real question she had was how is homesteading today different from the “Back to the Land” movement of the 70s? What does it mean to homestead?
That’s a tricky one because it means something different to most homesteaders. For example,
- I know homesteaders that live in subdivisions and others that have sprawling farms.
- I know homesteaders that want an underground food system outside of all regulation, but just as many that appreciate basic food safety measures.
- I know homesteaders with a goal to eat by the seasons and not supplement with items they cannot produce on their own farm and others that respect that goal and happily admit they don’t want to provide 100% of their own food right now.
- I know homesteaders that judiciously use synthetic fertilizers and/or pesticides and others that prefer organic practices.
- I know homesteaders that live 100% off grid, some that are working on reducing their energy footprint, but also ones that don’t have alternative energy options on their radar.
- I know homesteaders that process animals on their farms, plenty that happily pay someone else to provide that service, and a few that limit their meat consumption.
Does that make any of them less of a homesteader? Of course not. We all have our own definition and goals and all of us are at a different point along our homesteading journey. I’d wager, though, that most of us feel strongly about personal responsibility and cultivating skills that build self-reliance.
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