Homesteading Realities

Nature Towns soil quality

Living in harmony with the land – outside of town – seems more and more attractive in these days of global pandemic. Homesteading comes quickly to mind for many of us. But the romance can quickly get lost in the realities: hard work outdoors, exposed to the elements and subject to whims of the weather. Yet many of us yearn for a nurturing, low-budget lifestyle, in community with our friends and the earth, that makes us happy and healthy.

But how can you get closer to understanding the true realities of homesteading before taking the plunge? Our local Austin Public Library system is excellent. There’s no browsing the shelves anymore, but we can still do online searches and order the books there or for purchase elsewhere.

My Favorite Homesteading Publishers

So I went searching online for my favorite publishers (New Society, Island Press, Chelsea Green, Storey Publishing, Acres USA) to see what is available. As a result, I found this gem called The Frugal Homesteader. Just in reading the preface, I hit this poignant message that reminded me of when I was operating Microbial Earth Farms, supporting homeowners and homesteaders in becoming more self-reliant — and it was a challenge.

We went to put in a garden. The ground broke the tiller before the tiller broke the ground. We adjusted to living 30 minutes or more from everything instead of three. Our closest town is just a few miles and has just a few thousand inhabitants. You don’t reach a Walmart for 30 minutes in any direction. Even a trip to a local building supply store is generally an hour or more investment, requiring 20 minutes of driving each direction.

The Frugal Homesteader by John Moody. 2018. New Society Publishers

Homesteading can be a beautiful lifestyle, but it is not for everyone. It takes a relatively large initial investment to purchase the land, and the work does not end. For many, the work is gratifying and fulfilling; but for some, it is physically impossible. And for others, the time is just not available. What options exist for these people?

What’s the goal?

At Nature Towns, we look at the really big picture. We like the idea of “homesteading” at the community scale, in other words, using the power of community financing to purchase land and improve the soil, and to hire professionals to do all the hard work on behalf of the residents. Thus we achieve the goals of living off the land, providing residents with access to nature, improving the local environment to benefit them directly, and giving people a much healthier lifestyle through lower stress, a lovely place to live, and nutrient-dense foods locally produced within minutes of their homes.

We have calculated how to finance sufficient water storage to get a community and its farm through a 2-year drought in Central Texas. Our experience at Microbial Earth Farms operating a professional composting facility has informed our designs for community-scale composting, and we have studied how to set up cost- and labor-effective butchering at scale as well.

We are high on the Regenerative Society and the Regenerative Lifestyle that goes along with it. We believe there is a need to build places that support that lifestyle. For about 10% of the population, homesteading or self-reliance may be the answer. However, for many, Nature Towns provide a better option.

Nature Towns are walkable towns of about 3,000 people and ~200 businesses, surrounded by large farms. This makes a wide range of food products and services available to residents. Furthermore, it doesn’t take 30 minutes of driving to go someplace interesting off-farm! Click on the links in the above paragraph to learn more. Sign up for our blog/newsletter to participate in our webinars and upcoming downloads.

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