What is Homesteading?

Homesteading Defined

Homesteading has many definitions depending upon whom you ask.  Wikipedia’s definition is that homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. It is characterized by subsistence agriculture, and home preservation of foodstuffs.

It may or may not also involve the small-scale production of textiles, clothing, and craftwork for household use or sale.  Some homesteaders want to be totally off-grid while others simply want to save money by growing and preserving some of their own food.

Home garden

In 1862, the Homesteading Act provided public land grants of 160 acres to any adult citizen, including freed slaves, who paid a small registration fee and agreed to live on the land continuously for 5 years. The program formally ended in 1976 with the Federal Land Policy and Management Act.

But unofficially it ended in 1935 under President Franklin Roosevelt when he withdrew the public domain lands in order to institute a nationwide land conservation program.

Homestead Act Mail Stamp

Homesteading For A Healthy Lifestyle

In the 1970s, homesteading became to mean a lifestyle. It is about eating wholesome food, using less energy and involving family and community with the goal of improving the quality of life.

Science is now showing that illnesses and even cancer can be attributed to our diet. Eating a more healthy diet is an essential piece of the puzzle to the homesteader.

Vegetables are typically the first step and an easy way for a homesteader to get started with a more healthy diet. Chickens are called the gateway livestock. Many homesteaders eventually expand their chicken production and move on to add goats.

Chickens on homesteading farm
Goats on a homesteading farm

The Homesteading Comeback

Historically, homesteading was a rural choice. Today, with many options such as a home business or telecommuting, homesteading can be in an apartment, a smaller homestead, an urban homestead or a large more traditional homestead.

It has been a popular lifestyle for centuries and has a resurgence. There is satisfaction in growing and producing and crafting and repurposing. Given the current trends, it appears that homesteading will continue to increase in popularity.