Urban Homesteading Can’t Be Owned

My Pride and Joy Okra Plants from 2010

I have never really considered myself an urban homesteader. Sure, I live in an urban neighborhood full of streets and neighbors and kids riding their bikes everywhere, and I grow my own food. I don’t grow all of my own food, but probably about 70% of it.

I consider myself just a dude with a modest vegetable garden.

I can’t have chickens, or goats unless I want a hefty fine from the city for possessing “farm” animals within a residential zone.

Yes, I have that one neighbor that peeps out the window watching everything I do with one hand upon the phone waiting to call the city. I know this because she has called the city on me on four different occasions, and I’ve had visits from a city official on four different occasions.

I’m pretty positive if she saw a chicken in my yard the city would be here in about 20 minutes flat.

I also have to be mindful of what I do to the home and yard I live in because I rent. Recently, I mentioned growing some vegetables in the front yard to my landlady.

I thought she had a stroke.

Her left eye made a weird twitching movement and her body swayed a bit. She’s worried that I’m messing up her yard. It’s tough trying to convince her I’m not at times.

If I owned the home I live in then the yard would be covered in an assortment of edible plants. There would be a lot more blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and other types of plants that bear an edible bounty. There certainly wouldn’t be any grass.

Hopefully, that will come to fruition soon.

For now it’s just a relatively small vegetable garden.

As a child my family canned green beans, tomatoes, and peppers. We made homemade pickles and stored potatoes under the house. We even churned our own butter sometimes, and ground our own cornmeal. My grandmother made jellies, jams, apple butter, and peach preserves each year and gave everyone in the family a few jars of each.

Back then there really wasn’t a name for it. At least we didn’t know of a name for it if there was one.

It was just living.

Surviving.

Doing the best you could with what you had.

Today it’s called homesteading, or urban homesteading if you live in an urban area, and there are people who want to own it. They want to own the title of that lifestyle and everything that comes with it. They want to claim it as theirs and theirs alone.

Maybe they were one of the first to bring the lifestyle online. Maybe they were a big part of bringing the lifestyle into the mainstream.

Does that mean they own it?

Does that mean it belongs to them?

Does that give them the right to claim that any and every piece of work mentioning urban homesteading, whether it be a blog post, a magazine article, or a printed book, reference them as the master of that domain?

I think not.


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2 Comments on Urban Homesteading Can’t Be Owned

  1. Is this the Dervaes family?

    • Hello Ryan!

      This post was written in support of all urban homesteaders because I admire the movement and believe the title should belong to anyone who wants to embrace it. It’s not just about the Derveas family.

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