Our Urban Homesteading Story

My family’s urban homesteading adventure began when I bought my first home at 19. Young, dumb, and carefree, I decided to start digging! I used the common garden knowledge taught to me by my mother and grandmother and slowly pieced together what now feeds my family for most of the year. I am famously known for my ”Ah…. What the heck I’ll give it a try attitude?” And, that attitude has led us into raising everything from pigs to bobwhite quail.

We are active all year on our homestead. Early spring you will find us in our backyard diligently running buckets of sap from the tree to our rocket stove. This time of year also finds us in our greenhouse where we start seeds that will end up in our large food plots. Early summer, we order our chicks and once summer is in full force we are planting, weeding, harvesting, dehydrating and canning all of our well-earned bounty. By the end of summer we will end up with 120-170 lbs of rabbit and chicken in the freezer and enough canned vegetables, jellies, jams, sauces, stock, soups, and salsas to last us well into the next spring, when all of the fun begins again! Late fall into winter we seed barley fodder. The fodder gives our animals fresh greens to enjoy during cold, dreary days when greens are not available. We also gather firewood and plan all of next year’s crop rotations.

We pride ourselves on giving purpose to everything in the eco system we have created. For example, the chickens and rabbits we raise help fertilize the food we grow while keeping the bugs and weeds in check. In return they provide us with eggs, meat and fur through the year. When supplies are needed, we look for items to upcycle before making a trip to the store. We collect rainwater to irrigate our crops and wood chips and mulched leaves are gathered to keep our beds covered, hydrated and fertile. This results in little to no waste on our homestead.

Our homesteading has drawn attention from neighboring schools and recreation centers who would like to include us in their spring nature walks and science curriculum. It is really a great feeling having a positive impact on the youth in our community and if I had to choose what I liked best about our lifestyle, educating the youth would be it! I encourage you to join the homesteading movement. The benefits are endless!

Aliena Sword and her family have spent the last 11 years growing and learning on their urban homestead in North Linden. The family also enjoys hunting, fishing and conservation. Follow the Sword family’s homesteading and outdoor adventures on their facebook page Yankee Girl Outdoors

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