I have heard so many people talk about their dream to own land one day. I think it can be easy to get caught up in the somedays and to miss the opportunities you have right in front of you. If you are looking for tips on urban homesteading for beginners, you’re in the right place!
My family has 2.5 acres right in the middle of a suburban neighborhood, but I can tell you that I wish I would have started learning self-sufficient homestead skills prior to moving here!
Even with just a few acres, it’s a lot to maintain! It’s hard to start learning skills like gardening, canning, buying in bulk, and sourdough when you have a lot of land to manage. If I could go back, I would tell myself to start practicing those skills in my first apartment, my duplex, and then my first home with a small yard.
Our Urban Homestead
We moved to our little farmhouse in the city a few years ago.
There were a few factors that motivated me to learn these old-fashioned skills. Unlike some, we never had the intention to own land. We had talked about it once or twice, thinking that it would be fun. But it wasn’t a dream that we had our hearts set on.
After a crazy year with a lot of closed doors, the Lord opened up the opportunity for us to purchase a fixer-upper farmhouse on a few acres. You can learn more about the story of how we found our house HERE.
Once our offer was accepted, I started researching what you can do just a few acres of land. In the process of looking for tips about urban homesteading for beginners, I came across Shaye Elliot’s blog.
After reading her blog, I was amazed at how much she was able to do on a small property! I already sewed clothing and valued the process of slow, intentional living, so learning to grow and preserve our food seemed like the next step.
In addition, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease last year. I have personally found that I feel best when I eat whole, unprocessed foods for the majority of my diet. These foods are expensive, and learning how to buy in bulk and grow and preserve them myself is a much more affordable option long term.
I truly believe that good food is a preventative measure we can take to keep our bodies healthy and strong.
The Ultimate Guide to Urban Homesteading for Beginners
Over the last year, I learned so many homesteading skills that completely changed the way that we think about food! It required lots of trial and error, but I found that putting in a little time each day led to big changes over the course of a year.
As someone who homesteads on just a little bit of land right in the middle of the city, I want to inspire others to start right where they are! Whether you dream of homesteading on land someday or you just want to learn more self-sufficiency skills—there is so much you can do within a small space!
My friend Jessica of Prairie Creek Homestead and I worked together to create The New Homesteader’s Handbook—the ultimate beginner’s homesteading guide. It has over 130 pages of step-by-step instructions plus over 20 delicious, from-scratch recipes!
Food Preservation Six Ways
If you want to start homesteading, I highly recommend starting with what you have. You don’t even have to have a garden! The first thing that I canned was strawberry jam made from berries from Aldi!
In the past, I used to throw away so much produce because I would buy more than I could use. I am now in the habit of freezing or dehydrating fresh produce before it goes bad. Chopping and freezing veggies also cuts meal prep time in half!
If you want to learn how to can but feel intimidated, I recommend starting with fermentation or refrigerating things like pickles. It’s easy, quick, and has lots of health benefits!
The New Homesteader’s Handbook dives into six different methods of food preservation providing recommendations for when to use each one—plus easy recipes for freezing, refrigerating, dehydrating, fermenting, and canning.
Gardening for Beginners
I’m writing this post in the winter which may not seem like the time to start thinking about a garden, but it actually is the perfect time to start learning. I spent last winter reading, researching, and planning out our spring garden. Come spring, there are so many manual tasks to do, and you’ll save yourself so much time if you already have a plan in place!
Our guide dives into the best crops for beginners, different types of affordable gardening methods, how to start seeds, and tips for improving your harvest through natural methods like companion planting. Get a list of the best companion plants in my FREE companion planting guide HERE!
One of the easiest and cheapest self-sufficiency skills is composting. You can compost whether you live in an apartment or have lots of land!
My brother-in-law works for a company that picks up compost from people in the city, so if you want to be more sustainable but don’t have a garden—this is a great first step!
There are tons of options for composting. Personally, we went the DIY route with free wood pallets and it has worked great for us! If you are living in a small space without a yard, a composter like this might be a better option.
Cooking from Scratch
When I first got married, I knew how to make about 5 simple meals. We ate those meals over and over during our first year of marriage. Now, I never want to look at fish tacos or baked mac n’ cheese again!
Since then, I have learned about the importance of keeping simple ingredients on hand in your pantry. With just a few simple ingredients, you can pull together hundreds of delicious meals!
Some of my favorite ingredients to have on hand include oats, rice, beans, frozen veggies, bone broth, and meat. (We buy our beef and pork in bulk from a local farmer).
In our handbook, Jessica shares some of her favorite recipes that have been in her family for generations! I’ve tried several of her recipes including the broccoli salad, sourdough rolls, and chocolate chip cookies. And let me tell you—they will become some of your new favorites!
I was pretty late to the sourdough game! I prefer baking over cooking because you don’t have to stick to the recipe and it’s a lot less messy in my opinion. However, I started reading about how many ingredients are in store-bought bread (even organic) as opposed to homemade. Because of this, I really wanted to start to learn!
In addition to the health factors, store-bought bread products are EXPENSIVE. You can save so much money by baking simple loaves at home with just a few ingredients!
Buying Food in Bulk
As a mom with young toddlers who is trying to cook from scratch more often, grocery store trips are not for the faint of heart. It can be overwhelming to shop with babies, and organic items are often extremely expensive.
This year, I started buying organic food in bulk from Azure Standard. I use it to supplement what I grow in my garden, and they have some of the best prices around on bulk food!
I buy grains and frozen food in bulk from Azure, and everything has been absolutely delicious. You can learn more about Azure Standard and how to store bulk foods in THIS POST.
When looking into buying food in bulk, I wasn’t sure what to do about flour. I wanted to buy flour in bulk; however, I needed a good storage solution. We have humidity issues in our home, and I read that flour does not store well in bulk. It is also susceptible to pests and moisture issues.
Then, I came across a post by Jill Winger that talked about the benefits of wheat berries. Wheat berries are the edible parts of wheat kernels, and they contain extra nutrients that are lost in store-bought flour.
Wheat berries can last up to 30 years in long-term food storage if properly stored. They do; however, require a flour mill to turn them into flour.
I use the Harvest Grain Mill by Nutrimill. It is an investment piece, but it will pay itself off quickly if you start making most of your bread products from scratch. Wheat berries are also significantly cheaper than pre-milled flour. I like to buy these hard white wheat berries for bread and these soft white wheat berries for pastries, pancakes, and other baked foods.
Raising Backyard Chickens
Raising chickens is a great way to start urban homesteading for beginners!
We started raising backyard chickens this year, and I learned so much! We purchased 6 laying hens and raised 6 babies. I liked doing it this way because we were able to have eggs from the start and got to experience the process of raising baby chicks, but the hard part was integrating our flock! It was all worth it though, because now we are getting 8-10 farm fresh eggs every day!
If you want to raise backyard chickens, The New Homesteader’s Handbook will walk you through everything you need to know to get started! You’ll learn what you need to raise chicks, the benefits of a starting with laying hens, basic chicken care, and how to integrate your flock. Plus, Jessica included some delicious egg recipes for you to try once you are getting fresh eggs every day!
I personally do not have bees, but after dealing with a lot of pollination issues this year… it is something that I want to learn more about!
Carson and I had an unfortunate run-in with some bees a few years ago, so I am pretty hesitant; however, my friend Katie helped me learn about how to care for bees without fear.
Katie homesteads in an HOA neighborhood with a small backyard, and she has several bee hives that yield delicious honey for her family! Katie is passionate about helping people who dream of homesteading while feeling stuck in the suburbs get started start right where they are!
She wrote The Ultimate Guide to Backyard Beekeeping… and let me tell you, this guide is incredible. I bought a book on beekeeping from Tractor Supply, but there is just something about having someone you trust walk you through exactly what you need to do.
In her guide, Katie talks about everything you need to know to begin beekeeping. She walks you through the benefits of keeping bees, all of the supplies that you need, where to buy your bees, everything you need to do during your first year of beekeeping, plus how to harvest honey!
Save Time and Get Started on Your Urban Homestead
Homesteading requires time, and it can be hard to find the time to do all of the research and practice the skills you’re learning about.
We wrote this guide to save you time and to help you know where to get started. There’s a ton of information out there. I think focusing on a few skills that can be done without lots of land is the best place to start! Or, you can get my FREE urban homesteading guide HERE.
Don’t Wait to Start Your Own Self-Sufficient Homestead
Imagine becoming more self-sufficient and being able to provide home-grown food for your family right where you are.
Picture yourself planting your own organic food, canning and preserving the harvest, and cooking from scratch with simple ingredients.
You don’t have to wait until you have more land or more money. There are so many affordable homesteading skills that you can learn to do within a small space.
Are you ready to start building your own self-sufficient homestead today? If so, grab my urban homesteading for beginners guide HERE!