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apartment homesteader collage

I read. I read a lot. No really I am a book hoarder. One of my favorite bloggers posts e-books about homesteading every day and I must download at least 3 a day and just store them in my amazon library until I read them or can use them. I download books about raising goats and chickens and edible permaculture gardens. The thing is, I can not use most of the information I am given at this point in time. You see, I am one of the millions afflicted with apartment living.

I wont bore you with how we ended up moving from a nice little house to a tiny sad apartment but suffice it to say, this is where we are and we are making the most of it.



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My husband was listening to a NPR TED Talk pod cast “The Future of Cities” about what the city of tomorrow looks like from a sustainability stand point. Eventually we run out of fossil fuels and will be limited to traveling in the small area we can easily bike or walk. Public transportation will be key to mass transit. They discuss retrofitting suburbia and re purposing old unused buildings like malls and big box stores from consumer establishments to community buildings like schools, churches, activity centers and artist lofts.

Ideally we would stop building suburbs and turn them into more sustainable urban environments better utilizing the space we have already developed to absorb the exponential population growth the planet is experiencing with as little environmental impact as necessary. Kind of like only having cities like large Asian cities, forest, and farms. Now I have issues with this within the current food paradigm and would hope for a shift to smaller more sustainable farming instead of big agriculture and how that paradigm shift would work but that is for another day.

So, if apartment living is the most sustainable way for most people to live, and the goal is to utilize as much space as possible as efficiently as possible, shouldn’t apartment homesteading be more prevalent and emphasized?

Of all the blogs I follow, none of them discuss apartment homesteading. They assume you can have animals, a large garden, and be able to produce as much fresh food as you will need for your family for the growing season. This is my ultimate goal in life, but it is not currently where we are. Although it would be fun to have communal gardens and chickens in all the wasted grass area in the complex.

I will write a series with more details on each of these but here are some ways that we do apartment homesteading:

1. Have a porch garden: I have a nice little garden on my porch in pots with herbs I use frequently, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, onions, garlic, and potatoes. I also have a compost bin on the porch so that I will have some fresh compost when I need it and reducing the amount of garbage we create.

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2. Shop locally and eat seasonally: We shop at farmers markets when they are open from local farms. The farmers are the ones selling us the produce and we can ask questions about how the animals are raised, what they are fed, and how they are slaughtered. We can ask how and where the vegetables are grown. Are they organic? Are they pesticide and herbicide free if they are not? Are the seeds genetically modified? You can harass the poor farmers with all sorts of good questions. Ideally we would ride our bikes to the farmers market but there is not one close enough to our house. This is a great place to find farmers markets, CSA’s and farms local to you.

3. Learn to cook and cook your own food: By cooking your own food you are eating local fresh food that will nourish your body reducing your medical bills, aches and pains. You have freedom from boredom of the every day fast food you were eating. Your body, your wallet, and the environment will thank you.

This roasted asparagus is super easy and delicious!

This roasted asparagus is super easy and delicious!

4. Make your own personal care products: Cut down on your shopping bill and make your own natural body and skin care. It is a fun hobby and you have absolute control over the results you want. How much more personalized can you get?

5. Make your own medicine chest: Learn common cures for common ailments and have an herbal medicine chest on hand to treat your family for those little aches, pains, sprains, and viruses that they will inevitably get.

6. Can and preserve food: Be prepared for winter or a rainy day and save money by buying food seasonally and storing it for later use.

7. Make your own cleaning products: IT is really easy and only takes a few basic affordable ingredients.

8. Forage for food in public places: Pick the fruit off of the trees in public spaces, or used as decoration around the apartment complex. Ask neighbors if you can help them pick their fruit with some of the crop as payment. Take zucchini off of the hands of that poor unsuspecting soul who’s plant JUST WONT STOP producing.

9. Wild craft the herbs that you use medicinally: These keep for up to a year so if you do not need them this second dehydrate them or infuse them for later use!

10. Wash your clothes with cold water.

11. Dry your clothes outside - check out these other eco-friendly laundry tips

12. Use energy efficient appliances and light bulbs

13. Properly utilize power strips to save energy

14. Cloth diaper

15. Recycle/ Reuse/ Re-purpose/ up-cycle

These are just some ideas. There are many more. By no means do you have to do them all because lets face it, its a lot of work; but by just taking one or two of these steps you too can be an apartment homesteader. Do not wait to say “One day when I have a house/farm/homestead I will learn to do these things.” Learn now! You will be an experienced homesteader and off to a great start once you do get that piece of land. If you decide to stay in apartments for sustainability reasons, because you are strapped for cash, or just because you enjoy apartment living, you are still saving some money and taking control of your personal space.

Keep an eye out for the rest of the series as it progresses through the weeks!

How do you homestead in your apartment or small living area? What are some great skills you think every self-sufficient person needs to know?

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More blogs in this series:

Apartment Homesteading: Porch Garden

Apartment Homesteading: Make your own cleaning products

Apartment Homesteading: Make your own personal care products

Apartment Homesteading: Learn to cook

Apartment Homesteading: Shop Locally and Eat Seasonally

Apartment Homesteading: Eco-Friendly Laundry

 

Shared on Tiny Tip Tuesday, Frugal Tip Tuesday, Show Me What Ya Got, Teach Me Tuesday, Anti-Procrastination Tuesday, Domestically Divine Tuesday, Wildcrafting Wednesday, Works For Me Wednesday, Penny Pinching Party, Homemaking Link Up, DIY Linky, Monday Mania, Homesteaders Blog Carnival, The Gathering SpotAnti-Procrastination TuesdayDomestically Divine TuesdayFrugal Tip TuesdayShow Me What Ya GotTraditional Tuesday, Teach Me Tuesday, Frugal Days Sustainable WaysSay G’Day, Saturday Show and TellLink and GreetHomesteading Blog Carnival

 

About Amanda

Amanda is a mother of two amazing toddlers. She is an herbalist, natural living guru, and real food, gluten free eating pro. She loves to help educate others on how to take control of their own health through natural living, real food, herbs, essential oils, and most of all - a positive mind set. Her other business Natural Herbal Living Magazine is all about helping people learn about how to use one herb a month on a deep and profound level.
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40 Responses to How to be an apartment homesteader

  1. [...] Sufficiency, small area natural living, small home homestead. … Read the original here: How to be an apartment homesteader | Natural Living Mamma ← GLOBAL WARMING: Preparing for Peak Oil – Part 1 of [...]

  2. mintheweaver says:

    Amanda, I too am trying to become a suburban homesteader, I have a wonderfully large backyard, but alas am “afflicted” with very bad clay soil and desert heat in Arizona. I have been spending my summer so far reading and learning to garden here, so I can be ready for the fall planting season. I have a couple of other blogs for you to check out if you haven’t already. http://frugallysustainable.com and http://www.myedibleyard.net/, along with the one you linked above are some of my favorites!

    • Amanda says:

      I cant tell you how glad I am not to live in AZ! lol Talk to mom she has a garden going through the summer, she might have some tricks that could help. I love frugally sustainable and will check out my edible yard. Thanks for sharing!

    • Karen says:

      Also try contained and raised gardens. I live in New Mexico and after moving here from firtle rich soil of Arkansas I was heartbroken when my first garden didn’t make it. Is I pulled together and started growing in 5gal buckets tomatoes peppers and potatoes at first and they did awesome. I’m now moving to raised gardens and composting to add to the soil I buy. Its just as rewarding and you can grow anything! Happy gardening.
      Karen

  3. Andrea says:

    We are going to moving into a place with a small yard (if you can call it that), but I am a gardener at heart! I’ve looked into vertical gardening. That is another great thing you can do with a small amount of space. I will be trying out my vertical gardening skills next growing season!

    • Amanda says:

      That is great! I would love to hear about how it goes. We have some topsy turvy planters for the tomatoes and peppers and I am going to try some vertical gardening with squash. I have no idea what I am doing so I will keep everyone posted on my progress or failure lol.

  4. Kristan says:

    Great blog, this is wonderful even for those who live in a subdivision and are limited by homeowners associations. While people who own homes may be able to have a veggie garden, they still can’t have farm animals in the back yard.

  5. This is all great stuff and we do many of these things. We live in a townhouse condo in the city so we have about five square feet of yard which we are not allowed to plant food of any kind in (bummer, eh?) and we arent allowed to hang our clothes out at all (snobs, right? ;) ) but other than that we do many of the things you mentioned. I especially love preserving local foods- that has been one of the biggest things we’ve changed in the last couple of years.

    Great post, thanks for sharing, found you through tiny tip tuesday. :)

    • Amanda says:

      That is great! Thanks for coming by.

      I know a lot of apartment/condo/town homes have HOA like deals where they have “rules” about hanging clothes and plants, thankfully we aren’t in one! I am waiting for a complaint from the apartment complex but so far so good! I try to keep it nice looking but the bees do like to hang out by my apartment because I try to attract them lol.

  6. Thank you for joining the Frugal Tuesday Tip! Awesome title, great content. I loved the Novella Carpenter book about farming in the city. Not an apartment, but a creative thinker. Hope to see you link again — http://juliecache.com/2012/06/18/frugal-tuesday-tip-college-edition/.html

  7. Thanks for linking up this awesome post at Tiny Tip Tuesday! We were in apartments up until this year, and were doing many of the things listed here. Now that we’re in a house, I can say we’ve crossed almost all of these off the list!

    • Amanda says:

      Thanks again for hosting! I am glad you like the blog. It makes such a difference being in a house doesn’t it?

  8. Great advice! I personally find it helpful to shop in farmer’s market since organic vegetables and fruits are grown there. I also love the idea of learning to cook for myself since I am able to make more hearty meals well-suited for my kind of diet this way.

  9. Ryan says:

    Sprouting is a good one for apartment dwellers or anyone else, really. Checking into community gardens or trying to start your own somewhere would be a good one too.

    • Amanda says:

      Sprouting is great! I brought up a community garden with the complex but they were worried about the pest problem. Thankfully there are a lot of community gardens going in because of the economic situation.

  10. Sarah says:

    Are you in CA? The apt complex looks like the same in my neighborhood! :)

  11. Emily says:

    I have zero outdoor space in my apartment, but I have lots of plants, including aloe, herbs, peppers, and even a lemon tree that fruits. I am planning on getting a Windowfarm as well. I’m also learning to can. And I sew and can knit.
    I have been participating in a CSA for years and even helped start new CSA group closer to my home. And for me that’s a huge part of urban homesteading – knowing your community. Know whats going on with your green spaces, know what groups (beekeeping, roof top farmers, local foragers, etc), know what incentive programs (solar panels, rooftop mini turbines, etc) are around. I am on the board of my local Civic Assoc and my Co-Op board and both allow me access to great information on how my community can work together to be more locally resourceful and live greener. Living in an apartment means living in close quarters with your neighbors – they are your best resource, work together!

    • Amanda says:

      That is great to hear Emily! I love how involved you are. I am also super impressed you have a fruiting indoor lemon tree!

      I agree, getting to know your local resources is key to being a successful urban homesteader.I am so glad there are people out there like you doing the footwork so that others can reap the rewards.

  12. Back when we had an apartment with a balcony, we attempted to grow vegetable in a container garden. It never worked (no sun), but I always tried, Now we have an apartment with no outdoor space, not even a flower box, so I just do as much DIY stuff I can inside. I figure buying raw ingredients from local co-ops and making my own stuff from scratch is better than nothing.

  13. [...] 4. How To Be An Apartment Homesteader [...]

  14. Anna says:

    In addition to those things you are working on, learning to sew would be another thing that you could add to your homesteading apartment. Learning to sew, knit and crochet are all things that can help you save many pennies to go towards that homestead you hope to have one day. Those things as well as canning and making jams and jellies are things that can be utilized as gifts for appropriate occasions thereby again helping you to save money for your future homestead. Good luck with all of your hard work.

  15. Thank you for this post!! My husband and I live in a small condo which is basically a one bedroom apartment. I can’t wait until I am finally able to move into a house but I am trying to make the most of our situation. Your post helped me to realize that there are many things that I can do even in a small space and many of them I already do.

  16. Awesome outlook and helpful tips, Amanda! There is so much you can do and learn in an apartment, while waiting or longterm. I’m sharing this on an upcoming homesteading roundup!

  17. Oh my, I totally hear you. We would love to be in the country and have a few acres with animals. Right now we live in town on less than a 1/3 acre. We do garden, but it’s pretty small, so we are very grateful for our families who have huge gardens and plant more than needed. :)

    One thing about living in town as someone else said. You cannot have animals. But, you could raise rabbits, we considered it, but I am a softy and cannot do the actual killing, and hubby says he wouldn’t be able to kill them either. Oops lol

    The other thing to consider with meat is hunting. We don’t have a good place around where we live, but that’s a great way to get your own meat for a decent price (hunting license and ammo) even better if you can dress out and cut up your meat yourself. :)

  18. Even though we live in a house, we don’t have a big yard. We have chickens and I do some container gardening in the summer (the weather is too cold 6 months of the year and I don’t have space for a greenhouse). I buy from the Farmer’s Market during the 6 months of the year it’s open. Next year I want to work on wildcrafing and food foraging. I have a few books on it, but haven’t delved into it yet.

    • Mary Byrne says:

      You could have a minigreenhouse like, use clear plastic umbrella over a container pot. Or the top half of milk jugs or using top half of 2 liter or 1 liter soda bottles. Look up some ideas on pinterest diy mini greenhouse. I’m sure something might work.

  19. […] Do you want to live naturally but feel limited by living in an apartment? Amanda of Natural Living Mamma gives some tips on how to be an apartment homesteader. […]

  20. Holly says:

    I volunteer at a nearby organic garden.Not only do I gain experience but eat the produce which can not be sold due to some imperfection. It is a win / win situation and I get my gardening fix.

  21. cindy h. says:

    I lived in a small apartment 5 yrs ago and had 3 x 4 porch and I grew pole beans 2 kind up my sliding door had squach and bell peppers and tomatoes in pots it was fun and got a lot of attention from the neighbors the next thing I knew they was a lot of small gardens growing in my complex. lol

  22. Diane says:

    Hi Amanda—Glad I found you on FB! I’m in a condo in So. Cal. with a small backyard. Started veggies in pots, because the dogs like to dig. Had a huge heat wave right after spring planting & lost most of it, but the bell pepper and green onion continue to do well in my kitchen garden window. It’s great to just take a snip of something right in the kitchen and use it in cooking. Will start veggie planting earlier this spring to get things established before the heat arrives.

  23. […] I for one don’t have an acre to grow food on and do the whole homesteading thing on (at least not yet anyway!). If you also live in an apartment, it doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all the fun. You can totally be get into apartment homesteading! […]

  24. This is really a very good idea to create your personal care products at home. 4th point I appreciated mostly although rest information is also very useful.

  25. Rose says:

    Don’t forget rabbits and quail! Quail lay eggs every day that are packed full of nutrition. The rabbits are quiet and contribute to your gardening or sell the manure for fertalizer

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