Homesteading Without Land | 13 Ways to Start

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Homesteading is most often associated with acres of land, backyard chickens, dairy cows, women in flowy dresses making sourdough, and an overall cottage-core aesthetic. Let me tell you, Instagram homesteading isn’t the only way to become a homesteader… In fact, it is pretty unrealistic. Homesteading is simply the attempt to live a self-sufficient lifestyle (or community-sufficient). You don’t need a certain aesthetic, a lot of land, or much money to get started. Today I want to talk about ways that you can homestead without land. That’s right- you can do most of these things even if you live in an apartment! 

13 Ways to Homestead Without Land

There is a learning process to living a sustainable lifestyle. And the beauty of that is, you can start learning no matter where you are! With or without land, with or without money, with or without experience… it doesn’t matter. Find blog posts, Youtube videos, homesteading books, and local mentors to help you grow your skill set one skill at a time. 

1. Cook from Scratch

I recommend to start with this one if you are just getting your feet wet in the homesteading lifestyle. If you have a kitchen, then you can start learning to cook from scratch- no land required! Don’t feel like you need to cook every meal from scratch, that would be incredibly overwhelming to start with (trust me, I’ve tried it). Pick one food to replace and work on that until you have mastered it and then add in more as you go. Breads and homemade pantry staples  are great to start with! 

woman holding fresh homemade butter

Here are a few recipes to get you on your way to a from-scratch kitchen:

2. Cook with Cast Iron

Believe it or not, cooking with cast iron isn’t just a fad. This cookware can last a lifetime if you take care of it well. Cast iron can be used on the stove, in the oven, on a propane stove, on a grill, in a solar oven, and over an open fire. Properly seasoned cast iron can also replace toxic non-stick pans that you may currently be using so it is the most sustainable & versatile option for cookware hands-down.

I cook only with cast iron skillets & loaf pans and I don’t plan to change that any time soon. My favorite skillet is over 130 years old! How crazy is that?

3. Build Local Community

You can still take steps toward sustainability even if you aren’t growing and raising your own food yet. Support local growers & producers by purchasing meat, milk, eggs, fresh produce, etc. from them. Look for a community garden to gather from or even volunteer to help maintain. Barter & trade goods and services within your community. Find a mentor and start learning new skills hands-on. The growth of knowledge and community requires no land at all, friends. 

Not sure where to start? Visit your local farmer’s market and strike up a conversation with the growers that are set up there. Ask questions, buy their goods to try out, and see if there is an established homesteading community in your area. Maybe they can even give you their own tips about homesteading without land.

4. Small-Space Gardening

You can start growing produce and herbs for your family without land for garden beds. Research different gardening methods that allow you to grow berries, herbs (for food & remedies), leafy greens, root vegetables, and more.

Small-Space Gardening Methods:

Be sure to plant intentionally. Only grow the foods that your family will consume so you don’t waste time, effort, money, and resources. 

You can also learn to save seeds from the plants that you grow to add in an extra layer of sustainability. 

5. Make Herbal Remedies

Start learning to make your own immune-boosting remedies for your family. I make elderberry syrup, elderberry gummies, and fire cider consistently for my household. You can also learn to make tinctures, tonics, infused vinegar, teas, and more. I highly suggest following my friend, Amy Fewell, for all the herbal knowledge. Her book, The Homestead Herbalist, is a must-have!

fire cider in mason jars

6. Preserve & Store Food

You can dehydrate, can, freeze-dry, vacuum seal, and freeze foods even if you don’t grow them yourself. Purchase produce, meat, herbs, and more from local producers and learn to preserve them. This will grow your pantry supply and help you to develop a new skill at the same time. 

If you are growing your own food, be prepared to preserve the extras. High-acid foods (like tomatoes and jellies) can be hot water bath canned. Low-acid foods (like green beans, corn, and meats) should be pressure canned. If you aren’t ready to jump into canning, try freezing, dehydrating, and vacuum sealing. 

Also look into bulk food storage and cold storage. I store my flour, sugar, and other dry goods in mylar bags tucked into food-grade 5-gallon buckets. This way I always have ingredients to make breads, cakes, biscuits, and other foods that my family eats consistently. Root veggies can be stored in a cool area (like a root cellar) to prolong their lives as well. 

5-gallon buckets as food storage | how to homestead without land

Check out these resources for food preservation:

7. Compost Food Scraps

Start composting to reduce your food waste. Buy a small compost pail to keep in the fridge. Toss all of your food scraps into the pail instead of the trash can. You can use these scraps for your own small space garden or sell to local gardeners.

In order for the food scraps to become rich compost, it will need to be moved to an outdoor bin where it can heat up. Consider a large pallet compost bin if you have the space. If you need something smaller, try a simple 5-gallon bucket compost bin

>>Get my Composting Made Easy Ebook<<

compost pail in fridge

8. Learn to Sew

Sewing is another great homesteading skill to learn whether you have access to land or not. Get a sewing machine and watch videos tutorials to learn how to make & mend clothing, aprons, and more! You can make clothes for your family and items to use in your own home OR you could turn it into a business selling homemade gathering aprons & other handmade goods. 

9. Learn to Use Alternative Resources

Another key point is sustainability is knowing how to use unconventional resources. If the grid goes down (short-term or long-term) you will still need to have a functioning household without electricity. Start researching things like collecting rain in rain barrels, utilizing solar energy with solar panels, or even just learning to use a propane generator in the event that electricity is inaccessible for any reason. 

10. Learn to Forage

Learning to forage is free and it does not require that you have your own land. If you have a yard, there are probably some edible weeds just waiting to be discovered. If you don’t have a yard (or the yard is sprayed), you can forage on public lands. Many public parks allow foraging. You will just want to be sure that the ground isn’t sprayed with any chemicals and that you aren’t foraging in an area that has heavy traffic (especially pet traffic). Get my Foraging Wild Weeds e-book more information about identifying common wild edibles.

Woman holding jar of foraged "weeds" | homesteading without land

11. Learn to DIY

When you want to start taking steps toward homesteading, but you don’t have any land, focus on resourcefulness. Use items that you already have (or items that you can access easily) to make things that you need. For example- use 5-gallon buckets to make a compost bin, a container garden, a food storage system, or a vertical garden tower. 

You can also make your own bath & body products like soap, salves, toothpaste/powder, lotions, face masks, bath bombs, an dmore. 

DIY Cleaning Supplies are another great additional to a sustainable land-less homestead. Make an all-purpose cleaning spray for general household cleaning, dishwasher detergent cubes, mop solution, glass cleaner, etc. 

12. Raise Small Livestock

If you have enough space to add small livestock, you can expand your sustainability a bit more. I have a ½ acre yard and I have raised laying hens, meat birds, meat rabbits, and honeybees here. You can raise quail and meat rabbits in a garage or in an eclosure attached to your home. 

Honeybees can be raised with very little space as well; however, you need to be mindful of close neighbors and keep the hives away from areas that you and others (especially kids) are frequently in. The bees will also need to be able to find food within a 2 acre radius so if you live in a city, skip this one.  

13. Practice Frugal Living

Homestead living is best (in my opinion) when it coincides with frugal living. If you know how to live on little, you can enjoy life more. This doesn’t mean that you should deprive your family of all of life’s extras, but be sure that you can live without them if you need to. 

Start tracking your finances, paying off debt (and staying out of it), being resourceful instead of purchasing everything new, secondhand shopping to reduce fast-fashion waste, and generally living with less. 

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