On the question “What is Homesteading?”, we first have to decide in which context the question is asked.
The historical meaning of the term homesteading differs from what we have today as modern homesteading.
In present times, homesteading refers to a lifestyle in which basic living needs are self-produced. Though the term in general refers to being self-sufficient in terms of products sourced from agricultural activities, it may also include small scale textile production, craft-work and activities such as clothes making and food preservation.
In general, the concept is applied to living in rural areas, but removed from rural villages.
Off-Grid living, Back to the land and Homesteading are terms used today to describe lifestyles that have much in common in the sense of not being dependent of grid supplied services, nor of the mainstream commercial supply chain in respect of food and living means. these lifestyles do however link in some degree to the commercial system, but they are not totally dependent of it as normally found in city life or even in rural village living.
Typical homestead living may include:
– Building your own house / shelter
– Water supply from borehole / fountain / river / rain water harvesting
– Installing solar power
– Planting your own vegetables
– Keeping chickens for fresh eggs and own meat supply
– Keep livestock like sheep / goats / pigs for meat supply
– Milking cows for daily fresh milk and dairy products
– Harvest fruit that is being preserved for yearlong use
– Making own clothes / shoes
In the 1990s and 2000s, self-sufficiency movements started to promulgate urban homesteading, by which the concept was applied to urban and suburban areas.
Back to the land became an attractive alternative to the modern lifestyle where everything is provided through the supply chain.
Some homesteaders today are creating produce like organic foods or specialized crafts that is focused to high-end niche markets. In this way, they are providing in their financial needs.
Others escape from the formal economic lifestyle by opting out and rather choose to live a basic life and being self-supportive.
Many fund the setup of their back to the land lifestyle from funds generated during the time of their activity in main stream business or work environments.
Acquiring land and creating infrastructure like water supply, solar power and building a house may be rather costly when staring out.
On May 20, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act.
The purpose of the act was to encourage Western migration.
Adult citizens, including freed slaves, who have not previously taken up arms against the United States, qualified for land. Settlers were provided with 160 acres of public land upon payment of a small filing fee. They had to stay in continuous occupation of the land for a period of 5 years before receiving full ownership thereof. Settlers were expected to establish themselves on the land by building a house and cultivating the land.
Many homesteaders failed, mainly because 160 acres of land in the Western region just wasn’t an economical and viable unit.
The act was repealed in 1976.
Historically, homesteading played a large role in developing the Western regions of the USA.
In modern day, the concept of homesteading offers a nostalgic option of living from the land opposed as being forced to partake in the rat race.
In general, it could be viewed as welcome escape from our current financial systems and economic supply systems and all the stress brought about with it.