Homesteading in the City


Last week I asked how homesteaders were initiated, and I talked about how I got started with canning. But I’ve been thinking since then about how I used to know people in New York City who kept gardens in community plots. Even though I didn’t even think about doing something like that at the time, it had more of an influence on me than I realized simply because I became aware that other people were doing it. If I moved back to New York City (which I don’t plan to) I would be one of those people on my knees in a garden or advocating for a roof garden, or in some way contributing to making urban life more natural.

So I ask the question, why can’t a city be green? Why shouldn’t city people be able to grow their own food or climb a tree? I’m not the person to say that everyone should move away from the city and start their own gardens. I believe that wherever you live, that’s your homestead. There is so much that we can do to eat healthy food and live more natural lives no matter where we are. It may seem impossible but if we start one step at a time, we can make meaningful and long lasting changes. Probably the most important step of all is to teach our children.

Can you imagine if you had walked past vertical planters in the hallways of your school in the middle of winter? I think my memories of school would be completely different if I had experienced the same virginal wonder every time a seed becomes a plant when I was a child. Maybe my whole life would have been different, but I know school itself would have been more inspirational. So here are two organizations for you to look into, as I am now doing, if you feel like it’s time to take a further step to helping our children find their way.

Green Bronx Machine states in their Vision that they “believe that healthy students help drive healthy schools, and that healthy schools are at the heart of healthy communities.” The kids at this Bronx school grow and cook food as part of the curriculum. And, they thrive. The school has created a model for other schools to adopt…so don’t just sit back and say that you wish your kids’ school would do this…

The National Farm to School Network  says that they enrich “the connection communities have with fresh, healthy food and local food producers by changing food purchasing and education practices at schools and early care and education settings.” Do you wish that your kids were served fresh, local produce in their school? They also help to foster school gardens, cooking lessons and farm field trips.

So don’t just flirt with these ideas. Go out on a trial date with one of these groups, and then ask yourself how you feel about it. Or, if you find another one to add to this list, please do tell us all about it in the comment box below.

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