Starting a homestead can feel really overwhelming. It will feel like there are endless projects to do and things to learn, but don’t worry, there are people who have been in your shoes and have created beautiful and successful homesteads. There are so many resources on starting a homestead and homestead skills that it can be hard to figure out where to start. My suggestion – start with what interests you most! Are you most interested in raising animals, growing a garden, preserving food, making homemade goods or in creating natural remedies?
You can create a more sustainable and healthy lifestyle regardless of where you are – an apartment, a frat house, or on a farm, there are little changes you can make to make a big difference.
Sustainable living describes a lifestyle that attempts to reduce an individual’s or society’s use of the Earths natural resources, and one’s personal resources.
Grow Microgreens & Sprouts
Don’t fret, I promise it’s easy! All you need to start growing sprouts is a mason jar, a draining lid, and seeds that work for sprouting! I also like to keep a drain stand and tray so I can keep them on the window seal, but they’re not necessary. Each seed pack will typically have their own variations but typically you soak the seeds for about 12 hours, drain and rinse, and continue to rinse twice a day for a few days until you have a lovely jar of sprouts! Seriously, it’s that easy!
“While their nutrient contents vary slightly, most varieties tend to be rich in potassium, iron, zinc, magnesium and copper”
Grind Your Own Flours (Especially Gluten Free Ones!)
You can save SO much money by making your own flours, especially when you’re making organic, gluten free, or unusual flours. I love using quinoa flour for baking, but it’s usually ten dollars a pound! When I make it myself, it’s usually under three dollars a pound! You can also save money and get a better quality flour by making your own wheat flour. While a larger initial cost, a grain mill is a fantastic investment. While saving money on flours, you also get fresher flour with a higher nutrition content. While store bought flours are typically lacking nutrients, fresh ground flour is actually a super food!
“Grains are the seed-bearing fruits of grasses. The fact that grains are the seeds of the plant as well as the fruit and that life-giving nutrients are contained and perfectly stored within, make grains an incredibly nutritious food. In fact, of the 44 known essential nutrients needed by our bodies and naturally obtained from foods, only 4 are missing from wheat–vitamin A, B12, and C, and the mineral iodine.”
Sue Becker (Source)
Sow A Garden
Even if you don’t have a lot of space, you can have a garden! My first garden was on a table inside my apartment!
Add a small grow light and you can grow a lot of things indoors! Some easy starter plants are basil, rosemary, oregano, lettuce, kale, and radishes. If you have a small patio you can grow all of your own greens and maybe even more! Vertical gardening can extend your usable space to be able to grow more of your own produce.
Make Your Own Teas & Tinctures
Studies have found that some teas may help with cancer, heart disease, and diabetes; encourage weight loss; lower cholesterol; and bring about mental alertness.
Making tea is probably one of the easiest and quickest methods to living healthier while saving money! Teas have endless healthy benefits from lowering anxiety to preventing cancer, but as with all plants the nutritional value is highest when fresh.
What are your favorite ways to practice sustainability?
Gardening makes you a better mother or parent. Not because you’re “being more productive” or “more natural” but because you can learn a lifetime worth of lessons in one garden season. If you allow it, the garden can help you grow and evolve. Gardening has taught me many lessons in such a short time. My garden has forced me to hone skills and qualities I’ve tried many times to master as well as qualities I’ve never utilized. From the natural process of growing a garden and the environmental challenges, such as deer devouring my garden, the following are a few of the skills and lessons this garden season has forced me to practice.
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Effort Makes All The Difference
A seed cannot grow if you never plant it: in gardening and parenting. If you don’t put forth the effort, you can’t get what you desire. If you want Zucchini, you need to plant Zucchini seeds. If you want a child who lives with kindness you must show and teach kindness. We have to put in the effort to get the beauty & bounty; whether that be a thriving and healthy garden or child.
“Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get.”
— H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
Growth Takes Time
It takes time to see the growth from your efforts. A sunflower doesn’t bloom the day after you plant the seed. It takes time.
“A garden requires patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them.”
— Liberty Hyde Bailey
As the garden takes time to give back for the effort you’ve put in, it teaches you patience. Instant gratification doesn’t exist in the garden. We find instant gratification with most things in modern society, which leaves us inept with patience and therefore unprepared for parenthood. With gardening and parenting, we learn even with love and effort, we won’t immediately get what we desire.
“Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.”
— May Sarton
Peace & Contentment
The garden, with all it’s beauty and calmness, teaches peace & contentment. Something about it’s beauty feeds the soul and shows you the way to your inner peace.
The Importance of Having A Relationship With Dirt
Gardening will show you how important it is to have a relationship with dirt. As a parent, this is an important lesson. Your child will crave to play in the dirt and for their health and wellness, it’s important you allow them to do so and even encourage them.
“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”
The Undesirable Will Happen (and that’s ok)
The garden will never go exactly as planned; neither will parenting. The garden will show you that no matter how astray things may go, with commitment and love, it will still be beautiful. Flowers will blossom and fruit will form.
“A flower falls, even though we love it; and a weed grows, even though we do not love it.”
These are all beautiful and necessary lessons to hone for motherhood and a garden is a wonderful and forgiving place to learn such lessons.
What have you learned or hope to learn from your garden?