Monday, February 21, 2011

My Urban Homestead - how I small scale farm, reduce waste, and do it myself in the city.

My boyfriend Dan and I live in Oakland, CA directly across the bay from San Francisco. Our land is small and when we first moved in to this house most of the yard space was cemented over. Any yard space we did have of course had a nice lush lawn of grass. This was definitely NOT an urban homestead when we moved in. We've been working hard, and non stop, over the past year to turn our little plot of land in to more. It may not be as elaborate as some but I'm proud of our work so far.

Over the last year we have: 
Started a worm composting bin using materials from a reuse store for just dollars (we use the juice that comes out as a fertilizer for our garden)
Built a pulley clothes line and use it for drying our clothes the old fashioned way

Busted out cement in our yard and used the urbanite, and other free found materials to build raised beds

started a large compost bin using a second hand frame we got free from someone on freecycle

Got 3 hens and built them a nice home under our deck
Got our first egg TODAY!
Berry patch just starting to grow: raspberries, boysenberries, and strawberries.

We've learned about taking cuttings, seed collecting & starting, and other ways to make us less reliant on purchasing plastic tub starts every year for our garden.

Planted 3 fruit trees (with more waiting to be planted) which we got incredibly cheap root stocks and grafted on fruit variety's that grow well in our area. The grafts we got for free at a scion exchange.

Started planting vegetables in our front yard. Here are artichokes, kale, and salad greens.

Dan also built a top-bar beehive using recycled wood found on the side of the road. We hope to collect a swarm this spring. I'll get a picture of that up later when we find a place to put in in our yard.

There is so much more I could talk about but I'll save that for other posts. Stick around!

I encourage everyone to do a bit of urban homesteading in their city dwellings as well. Even if it just means a few potted tomato plants in the summer. A little something here and a little something there start to add up and make a difference. I'm proud to be a part of this Urban Homesteading movement!


  1. Nice post! I love your raised beds- my favorites are always the ones made with reused or found materials! Gorgeous. Congrats on your first egg too! It is the 1st day all 4 of ours have laid an egg! Yay! Anyhow, glad I found your blog and can't wait to read more!

  2. Really enjoyed your post! Way to go and congrats on the egg! Looking forward to reading more.

  3. Nice!

    Ah, the paved Oakland front yard. I remember them from when I lived there briefly 10 years ago. I don't know of another town where it's so prevalent (definitely not Berkeley!) and it sort of weirded me out. I'm guessing they did that so there would be more car parking...sigh.

  4. hi oakland neighbor. i'm over in sf. love to see all the stuff you are doing. i also recycled a bunch of landscaping waste to build raised beds. yay, for avoiding the dump!would love to see how your hubby built the beehive. i'm hoping to get bees this spring too. they are my next frontier :)

  5. What an awesome post. It's nice to see your efforts toward urban homesteading, and to know that you it doesn't have to be all or nothing. I can't wait to see more!

  6. Hey there! I'm a member of the SFetsy goup and the new east bay group that you started and I just discovered your blog. I love it! And it's so very inspiring. I'm gonna be coming back here often.

    Have a great week!

  7. There is something so charming about clothes lines. I miss them terribly. Oddly enough, my HOA disallows them! I intend to get this overturned.