Don’t Be An Urban Homesteader Asshole

You ripped up your front lawn to plant kale and a heritage quince tree. You adopted as many chickens as your town will allow. You make your own bread, jam, cheese, pickles, yogurt and beer. Worms eat your garbage, beekeeping supplies are on the way and you’re wondering if the neighbors would notice a dwarf Nigerian dairy goat under the porch.

What you’re doing is ecological, economical and profoundly personally rewarding. You are living the dream, and doing it all within bike commute distance of an urban hub. Congratulations, you’re an urban homesteader! And you just want to share everything you’re learning with everyone else. If all those friends still buying their eggs at the store just knew how much better really fresh eggs were, you are sure they’d want chickens too!


You are at risk of becoming an Urban Homesteader Asshole. It is an easy trap to fall into, and it comes from a good place: an urgent desire to share all the great changes in your life with the people you care about. But before you make an unsolicited offer to help your apartment-dwelling friend build a chicken coop, step back, take a deep breath and remember those people.

Remember the guy in college who would only listen to Polish post-Industrial Pop, because German post-Industrial was total mainstream swill? Remember the vegan who asked how it felt to be eating rotting flesh just as you were about to bite into your burger? Remember the young professional who gave you that withering look in the waiting room while you were reading People, then pulled out her own copy of The Economist?

We really don’t want our Urban Homesteading to turn into that. No one likes it when people imply that their way of life is oh-so-much-better than everyone else’s.

Image by Jana Remy. Shared with Creative Commons licensing.

See, the thing is, Urban Homesteading is hip. It’s getting press. People are taking those first steps to turn their home into a place of more productivity and less consumption. And that is wonderful. People see their normal, not-too-crunchy-granola neighbors growing more veggies and maybe putting in a fruit tree and they think, “Hey, if the Smith’s can grow a dwarf pear tree, I can grow a dwarf pear tree.” When they have one success under their belt, maybe they try something else. Maybe more vegetables. Maybe chickens. Maybe homemade jam. Maybe micro-hydro power.

But as more self-sufficient urban living becomes more mainstream, there is also a backlash. Articles like, “I am a Radical Homemaker failure” poke fun at the idea that people would voluntarily live with less money or do more domestic work in trade for more self-directed time. The author, Madeline Holler, bemoans her “thin and sour” homemade yogurt and lack of Crate and Barrel furniture, and equates “rendering fat and lacto-fermenting cucumbers” to shoveling rocks for Satan.

It is easy to read Ms. Holler’s assessment of lacto-fermented pickles (possibly the easiest preservation technique around, by the way) and want to shout from the roof-top: “Don’t listen to her! It’s worth it! I can show you why you will love my way better!”

But people who may be thinking about taking that first tentative step do not want to be told that your tangy homemade yogurt topped with a dollop of homemade wild blackberry jam kicks the ass of their Yoplait Light Boston Creme Pie Flavored yogurt. Even though it does. They laugh with Ms. Holler and at people crazy enough to take a little of their food production into their own hands. For these people, Urban Homesteading just seems weird.

And yet, and yet…just maybe they’ll stick a pot of basil on the porch this summer instead of a geranium.  And if they do, we cannot jump all over them to grow strawberries and tomatoes and cucumbers and kholrabi and hardy kiwi and goji berry too. If, in our eagerness to share the next step we diminish the triumph of the first step, we run the risk of alienating people who might otherwise come on board.

We run the risk of portraying Urban Homesteading as an all-or-nothing commitment, when in reality it is exactly and only what one makes of it. If we’d like to see a nation of farmers, it will happen by normal people making tiny changes in their normal life, not by everyone simultaneously quitting their job to grow heirloom shelling beans.

So get out there in your front yard and grow those berries and that chard. Send the kids out to gather those eggs. Walk the walk, but be soft with the talk. Show your neighbors that Urban Homesteading isn’t just for hippies. If you are experienced in a certain area, mentor those who truly want it. They’ll find you. Be proud of what you are doing, but be gracious with those who are doing less or who aren’t in the same place in life. Focus on your community and your neighborhood. Be welcoming but don’t scare people off. Let people find their own first step.

Don’t be an Urban Homesteader Asshole.

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  1. Best post title ever!

  2. P.S. The content is really great too. Looking forward to meeting you in person on Saturday!

  3. Thanks! It will be great to meet up in real life! :)

  4. Really great writing Erica!

  5. Thank you! :)

  6. Just popped over here by way of Family Style Love, and I adore this post! Having moved from the great PNW with plenty of urban homesteading space, to LA with almost zero urban homesteading space, dear god, yes, sometimes people need to take it down a notch and make their commentary contextually appropriate (myself included!). Thanks for making me laugh. :)

  7. Family Style Love sent me this way as well. One post and I'm hooked!!! I am one of those people who wishes they had the seeds already sprouting under the grow lights in the basement…maybe you will inspire me! Can't wait to read more!

  8. Great post, and I couldn't agree more. Aren't things endlessly more hip if we *don't* proselytize?

  9. Natalie, Cookie & t -Welcome and thanks for reading! So happy to have FSL readers.
    Natalie-so now you have less room but more sun to work with! Make me jealous with what you're growing. :)
    Cookie-I'm flattered, thanks! It's definitely not to late to get seeds going, in fact we're just getting warmed up. I'm working to fill in the calendar with our planting dates; they should more-or-less work for the Puget Sound area, so maybe you can plant along with me.
    T-Amen to that. All the cool kids play it cool. Thanks for reading!

  10. The last paragraph is sheer genius. "Walk the walk, but be soft with the talk" applies to *anything* we can be passionate about – from homesteading to diet to commute patterns. Great post!

  11. Thanks Andrew, I totally agree. No need to shout so loudly. :) Thanks for reading.

  12. yes, yes, a thousand times yes. start w people (self included) where we are at. make a bridge. build it well.

  13. Thank you! I'm also seeing a lot of "competition" among urban homesteaders. It makes me crazy. I know in the SF Bay Area there's all this "No, *I'm* the ORIGINAL urban homesteader" drama and I just find it silly. Why does it have to be a competition? Why can't we just educate people that ask for help and do what we feel comfortable with? Just because we have rabbits and chickens and goats and bees doesn't mean you have to do the same if you're not ready.

    Being humble about what you're doing, even if you are passionate about it will go further than being an asshole.

  14. Thank you for writing this in such a way as to get the attention of the very sort of person who might fall into the habit of, well, um, maybe not being such a good ambassador for Urban homesteading. I'm hoping we can also do the same to encourage good ambassador-ism for alternative transportation!

  15. Saw this post through Punk Domestics, and hope this message gains traction! Thank you for writing this. I live in the Bay Area in a neighborhood that is undergoing a transition to hipness that I will inevitably be unable to afford, and I wish that I could just shout this from the rooftop gardens and backyard coops!

  16. This reminds me so much of the Pemco commercials: "Northwest Profile #47, Urban Homesteading Asshole".

    A reminder is also due to the coworkers & friends of people like us, who have a passion for local foods: if we present you with a gift of homemade pasta, a jar of lovingly canned jam, or a dozen eggs, accept it with graciousness. Don't ask why we spend so much time making this stuff when it's available at the grocery store. Doing so is inviting a soapbox speech! :)

  17. Wowza, I'm so humbled that this post is resonating with people! Thank you all so much for reading, commenting & re-posting.
    Michelle-exactly! Not being as asshole also means not being an asshole to ourselves if (god forbid) we have to buy bread this week instead of making it. We all jump in where we are at, and everyone's efforts are a work-in-progress.
    Rachel & Nicole-I am concerned about this too. There's always a land rush to claim greater hipness when something gains a wider following. I remember the Nirvana and Doc Martin days up here in Seattle – the number of people who claimed to have "been totally into" Nirvana before everyone else was pretty ridiculous. If they were all telling the truth Cobain was rocking out in a 15,000 seat garage, that's all I'm saying. Green living in general is suffering from this, the, "I'm greener than you because I can afford a $45,000-solar-retrofit crowd" is just another variation on "my status symbol is better than your status symbol." It's a pity.
    Anon-agreed! Let's graciously walk the walk, bike the bike, and train the train! :)
    Jenn-LOL! Those ads are funny because they're true. I have been told flat out by friends that they will not eat home preserved jam, pickles, anything. I appreciate the honesty cause I know not to pass along my goods! But, yeah, if someone gives you a dozen backyard eggs, the correct response is: "Wow those colors are amazing! Thank you and please thank the girls, too!"

    • Erica: Here! Here! My thoughts exactly and you expressed them so emphatically and succinctly. As with any changes, you can certainly bring more people around with a soft touch than by beating over the head. It’s the same process we need to allow for using natives, (natives aren’t better than non-natives in all cases) and for government regulation (no, we dont need to regulate what kind of tissue paper in the bathrooms).
      Well done! Thank you for another inspiring example of dont be afraid to speak your mind, there’s millions out there who agree with you.

  18. Jennifer Werner says:

    This is awesome! I must admit I've been a "local" asshole at times. Time to reign it in! Living by example should be much more effective.

  19. Thanks Jennifer!

  20. I think I will print this out and add it to the top of my neighbor's front yard compost pile.

    • Pffft. Everyone knows gardens go in the front yard and compost on the side, with the back reserved for barbeques and beers.

  21. This article is the Truth! Well written as well. Congrats in getting it on CNN.

  22. I popped over here from Punk Domestics and I loved your writing! I'm actually the crazy hippie on the block in the old house right in between two brand new homes. On one side I have the "normal" family with a manicured lawn and on the others I think I may have closet farmers :) I'm actually just learning to grow my own food (I have a horrible brown thumb) but they ask me for help and advice. I gave them a few broccoli starters last summer but it stayed on their dark front porch in the same little pots until they died LOL.

  23. Fred – make sure you print on 100% post-consumer content recycled paper with soy ink. ;)
    Justin – Thanks so much, I'm humbled and thrilled!
    Improb Farmer – Thanks, I'm so happy to have PD readers visiting. I've given starts away just to watch them die too. So sad!

  24. What a great post from an excellent writer! Your humor and passion show, and I appreciate the sentiment. I sell produce at a farmers market and have for 10 years. It's fun to see people become converts; discussing recipes and having exact change, buying this from her and that from him. Change is good, but only when one is ready!

  25. Thanks so much Candi!

  26. Love the post. I hope you rub off on me! I would love to have a garden this summer. I am keeping an eye on your calendar for ideas. Thanks for the inspiration!!

  27. Bravo! Now I understand why this post is really making the rounds. (I linked in from Punk Domestics and Well Preserved's FB posts.) I've been guilty of being a recycle-nazi, but have realized not everyone wants to save the world. But I guess that's why the rest of us keep doing our parts in our own little ways.

  28. Thanks Laura, let me know if you have any suggestions for making the calendar more useful.
    Hi Tugs, thanks for popping over and reading! I can be a naturally a little…uh…over-eager myself when I'm excited about something, which is why I wrote the post. ;) I think most people want to do their part, but sometimes life and kids and job and everything else can complicate the transition from best intentions to actions. I guess I'm optimistic that we of the local/sustainable/slightly-greener-living philosophy have momentum on our side, and the best way to keep that going is by being "big tent" and welcoming, not dogmatic and isolationist, because we all start somewhere. Thanks again!

  29. Hi Erica,
    Wow, what a great post. I agree that we can apply this to almost anything in life… For me, I'm a birth doula and I struggle *daily* with trying to get people to think of birth as something great instead of something scary. I love your quote: "If, in our eagerness to share the next step we diminish the triumph of the first step, we run the risk of alienating people who might otherwise come on board." SOOOO true. We live in a world that is so quick to be right, so quick to be expert and it really takes grace to come across as approachable. As for me, I'm going to try growing raspberries this year. I kow they'll taste much better coming from my own backyard!

  30. Thanks Cymmie. Great point, and brings up an interesting comparison of the birth process and growing things – both natural processes and both accomplished with a wide range of stewarding and/or intervention techniques depending on your goals and circumstance.
    Raspberries are great fresh from the cane, easy to grow organically and so much cheaper than store bought, too. It's getting them to the house that's the problem. :) Enjoy your berry patch!

  31. Great reminder. I teach high school science. My first few years, I jumped on every opportunity to expose them to strategies for sustainable living that I thought they wouldn't hear about otherwise. This was probably true, but I turned off a number of kids who painted me as another crazy science teacher. I still walk the walk, but have definitely toned down my rhetoric. The inclined students are no less inspired.

  32. Even more relevant considering current topics in the Ur-ban Home-stead arena.
    Thanks for the on target commentary.

  33. This post exactly describes the way we approach our "Urban Mini-Farm/City Smallholding" (LOL)! Our neighbors watch us with amusement and ask tons of questions- what are those barrels hooked to your gutters…Do brown eggs taste the same? We answer but never lecture. One neighbor paid me the best compliment (her children are grown) and said "Your are the mother I never was, I could have done all that but didn't… What your children are learning is wonderful"… That is why we do it…

  34. This was hilarious, well written and very true. Thanks!

  35. And this is among the many many reasons I love Erica Strauss…when she isn't making amazing fresh morning crepes with huckleberries and yogurt for her dearest friend…she is busy telling it like it is. DON'T BE AN ASSHOLE. LOL

  36. Found a link to this blog post from Dog Island Farm, and I'm thrilled to have you on my list of blogs I follow. Lots of back-reading to do now & looking forward to it.

    Great post!

  37. Such a great article!!! Thank you for saying everything I have been thinking :)

  38. Thank you all for reading! :)

  39. Thanks! It's always nice to see garden photos by Jana Remy.

  40. Perfect! For those of us just starting out, it can be intimidating to talk to "professional" no it alls that condemn the 10 other things you aren't doing instead of the first step you are doing. Bravo!

  41. Anonymous says:

    if she cultivated 6,000lbs of organic produce year after year on a 1/10 of an acre without not even a drop of a pesticide, a 4,5kW solar array, a dozen chicken and ducks laying fresh eggs, an organic garden and compost pile, milled all her flour by hand, a greywater system, a compost toilet, a rainwater catchment system, have organized hundreds of seminars, screenings and free potlucks to teach and enlighten the lalahood while keeping a family of four together, healthy and sane she might have a case, as it is, it is only disgusting and mean-spirited writing

  42. I believe I might just have my first hate comment! Congratulations Anonymous, and thank you for making my point while missing it entirely.

  43. That is FUCKING hilarious! And so obvious who made it.

  44. Ah, yes — I wonder who "Anonymous" could be? I'm sorry, but I don't care WHAT someone does on their 1/10 acre. It doesn't give anyone a case to be an "urban homesteading asshole." Also, while we're at it, it doesn't give *anyone* a right to trademark commonly used phrases (or, to be more accurate, get a service mark on the supplemental register) and then bully other hardworking urban homesteaders. I know the trademark doesn't specifically relate to Erica's original post, but something tells me that "Anonymous" is familiar with the situation.

  45. Sharon Miro says:

    Wow–Anonymous cannot feel that good about what he/she says. Not willing to put your name on it, means you have NO credibility in my book. Own up, and then we can have a dialogue, not bombastic monologue.

  46. Sane?

  47. Probably maybe perhaps a LaLa person?

  48. 3 tons of produce from 4,350 square feet per year??? Not bloody likely that you can yield 1.4 pounds of (the context assumes "edible") produce for every square foot of a garden.

    "Keeping a family of four together, healthy and sane"??? What about family members five and six–the wife and one child that fled in terror years ago at the sight of Jules Dervaes emulating Old Testament prophets in his Bible-mobile.

    "organic…compost pile"??? I seem to recall the Dervaes get tons of free compost from third parties.

  49. Great post!

    And I SO agree with Sharon about anonymous comments….cowards! (although the bad grammar is a dead giveaway:)

  50. Well, I for one, am glad someone is looking out for those of us out here in the lalahood who might be dissuaded from behaving as assholes by the disgusting and mean-spirited writer of this blog. I suppose the point anonymous is making is, it's OK to act as an asshole as long as you have the proper credentials! lol! Great post Erica!

  51. hmm i lost my comment.. anyways.. once again.. great read, and not to diss anyone.. i thought it was appropriate :D and very tongue in cheek with a hint of absolutely correct… since i've had the 'you should be doing this and this' blah blah in my ear…

  52. Anonymous commenter indeed, lol! Looks like you received the first shot across the bow Erica, WELL DONE!!! I applaud you! You hit a nerve in a most eloquent way, bravo, and if "anon" thinks that their list of accomplishments on 1/10 of an acre trumps what you've said here then they're crazier than formerly thought, lol! Blog on girl!

  53. Erica, what you've pointed out so well is that the manner in which one does something is just as important as what one does. Ethics is about the congruence between the two AND the intention of doing good in the world by both.

    Urban Homesteading is not a competition, it's an evolving way of life. The leadership of this movement is not concentrated in the hands of a few, it's a collective leadership, and has been so ever since the first seed was planted by our ancestors. Each of us has something to offer, and each has something to learn. I love the Open Source nature of it all!

  54. Rebecca, beautifully said. Thank you.

  55. Great article. Im guilty of being an urban homesteading asshole, but only with my wife. Poor thing doesnt want anything to do with it! (Im gardened up anyway, were cool.)

  56. Thank you all for your support (and laughter, which, let's be honest, is what that comments deserves.) Continuing proof that this is a great community. The assholes are sometimes loud, but they are few.

  57. Jessica says:

    I love you. This is brilliant.

  58. I posted a comment on this last week, but it seems to have disappeared. Anywho, fantastic post! I think what people forget is that we are all on the SAME TEAM. We don't need to jockey for the urban homestead throne. We all have unique living situations and we do the best that we can within those confines. we should be patting each other on the back for all the cool stuff we've done rather than stepping on heads to get to the top. such silliness.

  59. I loved this post like all the others before me! Where I come from, this is kind of urban behavior is called being a normal Italian/Italian-American. The labels of lifestyle marketing is so irritating to me.

    I linked to this post from another blog and I will add what I added there. If you really want to make a difference and involve others, try fostering at-need and at-risk kids in your home and teach them how to garden. Be an activist in a community where your energy and effort actually could make a difference and please quit trying to preach to your choir.

  60. I live in rural Iowa (small town of 1000)–the UNenlightened, Steve King side of the state, unfortunately–and am surrounded by golf course lawns, "I heart Monsanto" signs, and people who consider it a badge of honor to have moved UP to never having to deal with chickens, gardens, rain barrels, and all those nasty, degrading things that their grandparents had, ever again. Therefore, I'm not only frequently in danger of UH Assholiness, I've got to be on constant alert for Messiah Tendencies. Thank you for your timely reminder. I've shared it with all my long-suffering Facebook friends. ;-)

  61. this is going down in the life book as a classic post. thanks!

  62. I saw this from the TBUH facebook page. So well said, (and definitely needed to be said!)

  63. Great post! I have to show this to my thai chi yoga master, super vegetarian, always the best in everything ecological aunt…

    kisses from Uruguay!


  64. I just want to jump up and down yelling, yes, yes, yes! You get it! And you've said it very well. Thanks for the reminder and for leading by example.

  65. love this post, and very much hope to take these words of yours to heart: "Walk the walk, but be soft with the talk."

  66. I think anonymous read Urban Homesteading Asshole, made an assumption, and didn't actually read what you said. Interesting. Guilty conscience?

  67. Wonderful post! I need a reminder every so often that the small steps can seem huge to someone unfamiliar with the path to growing even a small amount of food. That things like making fridge pickles can seem too much bother because they don't know how easy it is and I shouldn't give them a lecture on why MY pickles are better than store bought because there are NO chemical preservatives, etc…I should simply offer to help them make a first batch.
    And as for THE anonymous poster so full of herself and so obviously full of contempt for the rest of us – shame on you. You have perfectly proven Erica's point!!

  68. Ha ha you said asshole! :)

  69. Fantastic piece and so true! I definitely have friends who think I'm a nutter for wanting to garden, preserve and enjoy home crafts. But I think they're still my friends because I don't force-feed them my passions. Have you ever seen the British television programme The Good Life? It's from the 70s and is about a suburban couple going self-sufficient in their existing home. Absolutely brilliant and it shows their friendship and regular confrontations with their not-so-earthy neighbours. I'd definitely recommend it :)

  70. well said.

  71. This is possibly the best post I've read in a while. I find myself pushing every now and then and remember to take a step back.

    Thank you!

  72. yeah, but sometimes I just get so sick of the ignorance, I just be an asshole on purpose and tell people about how we spent Saturday morning slaughtering chickens. I just can't talk to "normal" people anymore about what I watched on TV last night or whatever other inane interest they have, I've got so much else going on, just lucky that lots of people in blogland know what I'm talking about!

    • Love. In conversation my favorite way to conclude the homesteading list of activities is, “We enjoy it.” We wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing if we didn’t like it. But we didn’t like it till we tried it. If someone’s interest is piqued and they try something new, AND THEY LIKE IT, well, that’s great! There’s only one person who gets pissy when I share what we’ve been up to, so when we talk I make a point to ask her lots of questions about what’s going on in her life. She can’t relate to me (at least to a very big part of our lives), so I do my best to relate to her.

  73. Farmer liz – isn't that how everybody spends saturday morning? ;) Yay for virtual community!

  74. ah, and now I read the dervaes post, which I wasn't previously aware of (being in Aus, it wasn't a big deal here), I see you mean don't be an asshole to other homesteaders, and in that case I'm only an asshole to annoying ignorant people who eat CAFO chicken and junk food and have no idea what I'm talking about. With other homesteaders I love to talk about what they are doing, what successes and challenges they have experienced and what seeds we can swap. Like you say, this is what you make of it, and we all have different priorities, and we all having something we can teach others. Thank goodness for our permaculture group or I'd have nobody to talk to though!

  75. Emily Hebner says:

    Oh my gosh, Erica you are the blogger I have been searching for. THANK YOU! :) :) :)

  76. Oh, I thought you were talking about the Dervaes’ awful behavior toward other Urban Homestead businesses and writers. Because that is where you got this picture, right?

    • This post was written before the Dervaes trademark issue, when my blog was about a month old. The post is in no way based on or directed at the Dervaes. It was originally published without a photo at all. When linked to this post, my stats on it went through the roof. Later, as I developed and grew my blog, I added a “popular posts” sidebar widget and this post was at the top. I added a photo to the post so it would have a thumbnail in the widget, like the other “top posts” displayed. :) You are welcome to interpret the choice of photo (added after the trademark attempt) however you wish. :)

    • I don’t want to alarm you, and I know I’m late with this (a friend linked this post on her Facebook just today), but the above link about Devraes routed me over to a site filled with alarmist Malware pop-ups. I don’t think I was infected, but we shall see. I don’t know if there’s a way of disabling links, but that might be a good idea. I loved the post, though!

  77. I would assume that includes not being a homesteader a-hole to your spouse as well? ;o) My husband puts up with my vermicomposting business, tolerates our 4 hens for their sheer entertainment value, gets a little green around the gills when I talk about butchering…well, anything, flat-out refuses to raise meat rabbits, and can’t see how it’s worthwhile to have an aquaponics setup. Thankfully, he’s become okay with the backyard garden, but isn’t too keen on edibly landscaping the front. But I’ll wear him down…oh, yes…I’ll wear him down.

  78. Very well put through and through. Thank you!

  79. Margaret says:

    Don’t YOU become what you are warning others about .

    • As previously stated, this post was written and published before the Dervaes’ trademark scandal. It was not inspired by, targeted at, or commentary about that particular scandal. I have other posts that are about that issue and you are welcome to read them. I suspect we will have to agree to respectfully disagree in our interpretation regarding the Dervaes’ actions.

  80. ” If we’d like to see a nation of farmers, it will happen by normal people making tiny changes in their normal life, not by everyone simultaneously quitting their job to grow heirloom shelling beans.” Classic. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to read posts like this. I grew up in a small town with what I like to call a ‘hippie-logger’ father who was super conservative and planned cut-blocks for a living, but had us learning about all the creatures of the the forest, which wild plants were edible, and why grocery-store meat was, as he liked to call it, ‘poison’. Then, in the late 1980s, I became ‘that person’, obsessed with the dire state of the world and downright angry at everyone who wasn’t reducing their fuel use or using a reuseable bag at the grocery store. It’s the curse of the ‘newbie’. I’ve since developed a much less judgemental, and much more inclusive, world view… ;) In our ‘homesteading’ journey, I’ve been humbled in a big way, and now see that any step taken in the direction of living more lightly on the planet is something to be celebrated. Thanks so much for this post! Love your writing.

  81. Great post and great writing. Very true

  82. Love this..

  83. Thanks for writing this Erica. Now having 4 years of experience with this lifestyle its safe to say I could write a blog, but its exactly as you’ve expressed, its not for everyone and everyone is not interested. That is ok…To be honest You do it very very Well, and i’d feel somewhat of a parrot anyway at this point LOL . In the small circle of people who know us, there is truly only a very few who are earnestly interested. It just wigs people out that I would want to ” rott my veggies” make compost or produce my own meat. I am very thankful for what I’ve learned and been able to accomplish. I will also happily share with anyone who wants to see how we do things, but a soap box to stand on, I found very ineffectually during most of these last years. Maybe sometime down the road a book could be written on the mishaps and delightful successes but for now gaining experience is the order of the day. Its done so as to be available when some one knocks on the door and wants to participate of their own inclinations.

    Keep on keeping on.

  84. Marsha Schaefer says:

    Anyone with that much animosity either has a guilty conscience or “produce envy”.

    History proves that it’s the “self reliant” individuals who are the most valuable to society. My parents grew up during the depression and always had enough to eat because their families grew gardens. During WWII, Victory Gardens were everywhere, not just in rural areas. This is our heritage. I can’t imagine not being proud of that!

  85. First time I saw this. You are wise beyond your years. The world is fortunate to have you.

  86. Yes! I loved this post. I laughed when I recognized myself and others!
    When I met first met my local people who are full homesteaders I was very turned-off by the hippie vibe. I’m not hippie, and yet we make beer, wine, pickled beets, canned salsa and numerous jams. We are adding two new things this year: growing garlic and grow hops. It’s okay to do a little at a time. And we all don’t need to grow heirloom beans full-time. hahah!!

  87. Caitlyn says:

    Funny stuff! I’m actually looking to start up my own garden in the next year so thanks for the warning. :P I can attest that the article is mostly true… Another good article would be about where to start! I have no idea! I want to dive on in, but am afraid of doing too much too soon. Especially with a toddler and working 35 hours a week… I have the land (my stepfather’s property which is approx 10 acres) and I’m tired of it being vacant… I have limited income… Help?

    • Marney says:

      Two books come to mind that might get you on your way. Toby Hemmenway’s Gaia’s Garden, its an easy to ready introduction to home scale Permaculture Design. It will teach a lot of basic that are sustainable. The second was written by Robin wheeler. Gardening for the Faint of Heart. It will ease you in to a lot of doable things. It’s gear to the home scale gardening Newbee. Lots of great info on Erica’s site of course but you an also check out . It you inted to develop the 10 acres as a larger scale project its a terrific resourse. Last but not least I would encourage you to take a look at Geoff Lawton’s new website. It has 3 nifty free videos on what Permaculture Design can do with Great examples of both Rural and Urban properties.

  88. This is my first visit to your blog, and I have to say I just love this post! It makes all of the little actions seem worth while. I truly believe that living by example speaks louder than preaching. Thank you!

  89. Carolyne Thrasher says:

    High Five! And thanks for the gentle reminder that not everyone is as into it as I am, and that’s okay.

  90. M'kali-Hashiki says:

    One way to not be an Urban Homesteader Asshole is to become familiar with the origins of the term Homesteading and ask yourself if you really want to use that term. The term “Homesteader” has a Very Specific History. You might as well call yourself “Urban Manifest Destiny Supporter” or “Urban Supporter of the policy to deprive indigenous of access to the land by killing them off”.
    There’s nothing wrong with being an Urban Farmer.

    • Such a good point. Thank you for making it. And really, why label at all? Seems like sometimes it can be freeing just to describe what one does (when asked) instead of what one does.

  91. Well said. It’s so easy to fall into the holier-than-thou mode. I do it all the time. Humility and humor about oneself are the antidote.

  92. Geraniums have plenty of herbal and medicinal uses, and they keep mosquitos away. ;)

  93. I was giggling through the whole thing because, well, it is true! While we feel those inner harps playing and our chest fill with pride, we can not run around like crazy people, shouting at the top of our lungs. Baby steps…. always baby steps…. because once someone takes that first step and is filled with that joy of “doing it” (what ever it may be) it lights a small flame of “what if” or “I wonder if I can.” And then they are on to the next step and before long, they too will need to be reminded to not run around like a crazy person!!

    Homesteading means different things to different people….. Some people can and want to do more then others. That does not mean anyone is “better” or more of a homesteader…. it just means on lifes journey, we are all, in our own way, figuring out what matters to us. And just because when I run out of eggs I can run out back to the coop instead of the store, doesn’t mean it is for everyone. I feel sorry for them that they will never know the joy of a truely fresh egg but that is their right. LOL

    So glad someone shared this with me….. I promise I will not be one of THOSE homesteading assholes! LOL I will show the way by example but never by preaching. By the way, I am now following you on bloglovin *wink* I truely enjoy another smart ass homesteader!

  94. What a great read! Thanks.

  95. I too am an urban homesteader, but I recently read an article on which was incredibly informative. In a nutshell, it is about a topic similar to yours. The author says to start at a level the person you are speaking to is on. If your parents compost, but never use it, start there. Show them how to use it. When you get someone a little deeper into the things they already do and enjoy, they will start asking you for more. Then you don’t have to force your ideas and insanity on them, they will welcome it! Here is a link to the article:

  96. But but why? theres a little asshole in each of us, Damit Jim I’m an asshole not brain surgeon

  97. If some one needs to be updated with most recent technologies afterward he must be visit this web
    page and be up to date every day.

  98. I’d love to be added to the email list.
    Thank you,


  99. That was awesome…. I am sending it to my in-laws, who have accused me for years of being a homesteading ass hole… perhaps justifiably.

  100. Spot on with this write-up, I really believe this amazing site needs a lot more attention.
    I’ll probably be returning to read through more, thanks for the info!


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