Sustainability Made Simple: Homesteading 101
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In the midst of a green revolution, and a societal push for frugal spending habits, families are increasingly visiting farmers’ markets for locally grown products, brainstorming ways to use resources creatively, and striving to lead a more natural, sustainable lifestyle.
Want to take living green to the next level? Jenna Woginrich, the author of Made from Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life, says it doesn’t take much effort to live a homesteading life, even in the suburbs or a modest living space in the city. All it takes, she says, is a window-box garden, hand-generated activities, and a willingness to create. If you don’t have a green thumb or aren’t nimble with a needle, don’t fret: you can learn.
There are many ways you can introduce a more self-sufficient lifestyle to your child. “Kids are naturally drawn to nature, and animals in general are intriguing to them,” says Woginrich. If your family would like to take that first step, go on an agri-tour, she suggests. “Take a field trip to a farm and see what your kid is inspired by and naturally drawn to."
From planting a vegetable garden to raising portable livestock, she suggests these modern homesteading projects in Made From Scratch:
Grow Some Greens. Create a small raised bed garden – two by four feet, for instance – and grow edibles that your family can eat in salad or pasta: cherry tomatoes, carrots, or herbs. (For those less inclined to break sod or who don’t have a yard, a container garden planted with seeds from a catalog or young nursery plants works well, suggests Woginrich.) Put your child in charge of picking veggies – she will experience, firsthand, the joy of growing and eating food created by her own hands.
Produce Your Eggs. Want to prepare breakfast with eggs from your backyard? Raise a trio of egg-laying chickens, which doesn’t require much effort. Buying chicks from a local farmer or mail-order hatchery is easy, and once you build (or buy) a coop, you’re all set. These household additions introduce your child to a world beyond cats and dogs, and to animals that can provide food for your family.
Keep a Beehive. If you want to cultivate sweetness, welcome the buzz into your backyard. Woginrich started out with a beginner kit from a reputable apiary, which cost about $100. You can gather up to 50 pounds of honey during harvest from combing the hive. Younger children probably won’t be able to physically maintain the hive – it requires some training.
Reinvent the Old. Take your child to flea markets, yard sales, and thrift stores. People seek rare collectibles at such places, but don’t rule out everyday things; products made in the past were actually made sturdier. Encourage your child to scour the aisles and find practical items in good shape. This exploration introduces recycling that transcends the gathering of old newspapers: she can find a funky ceramic bowl from the seventies for her cat’s milk, for example.
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