If you aspire to live the homestead life but currently reside in the city, this post is for you. Homesteading in an apartment may not look like a wide-open field of grazing cows or a root cellar full of homemade goods, but that doesn’t mean you can’t homestead right where you are. Homemade cleaning supplies. From-scratch cooking. Windowsill-grown herbs. These are just a few of the many old-fashioned skills you can learn to return to your roots from your urban kitchen. Read along to get started on your very own apartment homestead!
In a world of expanding technology, automation, and convenience, there are still a few of us who desire something a bit different. We crave homegrown and handmade. We take pleasure in creation and connection verses pure consumtion. Time-honored tasks make us feel grounded and whole. If this sounds like you, then welcome- you’re a homesteader!
Getting started on your apartment homestead doesn’t have to be a difficult or overwhelming process. My advice is to start simple and work your way to more complex skills later. Homesteading in an apartment takes creativitiy, passion, and much trial and error. All homesteading is hard work, but you’ll reap what you sow and the outcome is so rewarding.
Get in the Apartment Homesteading Mindset
If you’re reading this post, chances are you’re at least a tiny bit interested in the homestead life. One thing that helped me through the beginning stages was to find like-minded individuals in books, podcasts, blogs, and YouTube. These individuals and resources helped me learn much of the skills needed for homesteading in an apartment.
Podcasts, blogs, and channels:
Simple Farmhouse Life Podcast – Lisa Bass
The Modern Homesteading Podcast – Harold Thornbro
The Prairie Homestead – Jill Winger
The Justin Rhodes Show
Wild, Wonderful, Off-Grid
Hannah from Ballerina Farm
Read the Homestead Anywhere E-Book
Homestead Anywhere – I collaborated with 16 other homesteaders to bring the FREE Homestead Anywhere E-Book to readers like you! The 180 pages are full of information on how to homestead and blossom wherever you’re planted. We firmly believe you can homestead anywhere- in a downtown apartment or in a farmhouse with acreage. You’ll learn all about gardening, food preservation, raising meat birds, cooking with cast iron, fermenting foods, and SO much more!
Homesteading in an Apartment: Grow Your Own Food
- Start a balcony garden – It makes me so happy to drive through the city and see balconies and rooftops flourishing with green life. To start your balcony garden, you’ll need some pots, soil, fertilizer, seeds, water, and sunlight. A modern alternative is hydroponics gardening, which is growing food in containers where water keeps the plants alive without soil! You can grow greens, herbs, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, and strawberries this way. You can invest and purchase a hydroponic garden system, or use what you have and build your own!
- Grow plants in the windowsill – Fresh, homegrown herbs can add so much flavor to your home cooked meals. Not only can you grow herbs in your windowsill, but also plants like lettuce, spinach, cherry tomatoes, garlic, and micro-greens!
- Buy some indoor grow lights – If you don’t have a balcony or a window with much sunlight, indoor grow lights is your solution. Many people use them to grow their plants vertically on shelving units to maximize the harvest.
- Join a community garden – If your gardening dreams are larger than the space you have available, most cities and towns have community gardens you can join. To do so, you “rent” out a garden bed or a piece of land that you can develop into your own miniature food forest. Many of them have community compost systems you can participate in as well!
Source Your Food Wisely
There are many ways you can source your food from local farms, gardens, and vendors that are healthier than the grocery store.
- Join a CSA – When you join a CSA (community-sharing agriculture), you’re becoming a member of a group that’s committed to supporting local farms. You’ll each get a share of the weekly harvest from local farms. It’s a great way to eat seasonally and join a community of individuals who have the same values as you!
- Online grocery hauls – There are some amazing online markets out there who value high quality food without breaking the bank. Azure Standard provides natural, organic, non GMO groceries and household products in bulk at an affordable price. Create an account, shop for products, and pick them up at a community drop location (or pay for shipping). With Thrive Market, you pay $5 a month to become a member. They have groceries, household products, supplements, and bath and beauty products that are shipped to your home each month.
- Buy local, raw dairy and pastured meats – While consuming raw dairy is controversial and even banned in some states, most homesteaders are aware of the many benefits of consuming it from local farms. You can find a dairy farm near you by using the raw milk finder. Eat Wild, American Grass-fed Association, and Local Harvest can all help you find grass-fed/finished & pastured meats and dairy products. Give the farms a visit to ensure the animals are treated well and the living/milking/butchering conditions are clean and safe.
Cook From Scratch
An old-fashioned skill essential to homesteading in an apartment is cooking wholesome meals from scratch. First, source your ingredients using the advice I shared above. Learn how to make things from scratch using your staple pantry and refrigerator items. Gain experience working with spices, herbs, and homemade sauces to find your favorite flavor combinations. Your meals will be more nourishing, flavorful, and enjoyable because of the effort you put into the sourcing and preparations!
One of my absolute favorite resources for cooking from scratch is The Prairie Homestead Cookbook by Jill Winger. It’s full of recipes that are simple to make, using simple ingredients, with a deliciously healthy outcome. Jill transformed the way I thought about cooking wholesome meals. She doesn’t use odd ingredients or complicated cooking styles, which is exactly what I desire – simplicity.
Some food items to easily make at home instead of purchasing from the store:
- Yogurt, butter, whipped cream
- Bread, tortillas, English muffins, pancakes, waffles, pizza dough, pie crust, pasta
- Marinara sauce, salsa, pizza sauce
- Salad dressings, pasta sauces, dipping sauce
- Granola, trail mix, protein bars, energy balls
- Broth and stocks
From-Scratch recipes for you to enjoy:
- Homemade Pesto
- Roasted Vegetables and Gnocchi
- Sourdough Pumpkin Muffins
- Homemade Hot Cocoa
- Homemade vanilla extract
Learn to Preserve and Ferment
Drying, dehydrating, canning, freezing, and fermenting. These skills will help ensure you have an adequate food supply in case of a power outage or food shortage. It’s also a great way to have garden/farm-fresh food during the winter months! Fermented foods are healthy for your gut and easier to digest. Learning how to make sourdough starter and cook with it has almost become a homesteading right of passage! You can also experiment with making fermented drinks like kombucha and ginger “sodas”.
DIY Natural Cleaning Supplies, Household Items, & Personal Products
One of my favorite parts of apartment homesteading is creating a handmade home. I strive to minimize toxins in our home by using clean ingredients in the products I make for my family. You’d be surprised at how simple and beneficial it is to make your own cleaning supplies and personal care items!
My favorite DIY recipes:
- DIY foaming hand soap
- Homemade glass and window cleaner
- DIY linen spray recipes
- Coconut oil and beeswax candles
- Non-toxic laundry soap, fabric softener, stain remover, bleach
- Homemade dry shampoo
- DIY Macrame plant hanger
Homesteading in an Apartment – Start Composting
If you like the thought of minimizing waste, getting the most out of your food purchases, and becoming more in touch with the food-growing process, composting is a great way to accomplish it all! There’s something satisfying about the food cycle and how it’s a gift that keeps on giving. The seed turns into a plant, the plant bears fruit, the fruit is harvested for food, and the food scraps are piled into a compost. There, they decompose, producing material rich in nutrients and minerals that fertilize the soil for the next round of seeds. I created this composting for beginners guide so you could start your own cycle with ease.
Hang Your Clothes to Dry
Cut down on electricity in your apartment homestead and enjoy line-dried clothes for a change! If you have a balcony or porch, you can make your own DIY clothes line there. If you don’t have an outdoor space available, there are indoor drying racks too!
Learn to Sew
Being able to close up a tear, sew on a button, and hem some pants will serve you well as you homestead in an apartment. Sewing also comes in handy for household items. You can make drop cloth curtains, potholders, cloth napkins – the possibilities are endless!Gather some basic sewing items and learn how to repair small imperfections. This mindset will save you money and give your items a longer life!
Learn to Build and Fix Things
Homesteaders make good use of what they have on hand to minimize waste and learn new skills. Instead of throwing things away when they’ve broken, try to think of new ways to use the item or materials. For instance, I found some used fencing laying on the side of the road. We brought it home, cut it down, nailed it together, and it’s now the gate to our little garden! My husband has since built extra counter space for the kitchen, and side tables for the living room. As a result, I’ve learned how to sand, stain, and paint wood furniture! This has saved us a ton of money along the way.