Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Urban homesteading

tiny house Posted by Hello

I am really excited about the concept of urban homesteading. I have been voraciously devouring any information I can find online about creating an environmentally sound, self-sufficient lifestyle. In relation to this, I have also been thinking about how houses have gotten obscenely big for the smaller families we now have. Actually, everything we buy in North America is big(ger): automobiles, homes, boats, property, food, etc... The exception to this rule would be the trend to downsize everything one owns to fit into an overpriced condo. This is not out of a concern for the environment, however, so much as it is a statement about the diabolical real estate market in urban areas, and the upwardly mobile's desire to own property. Hence, the condo.

One of my central reasons for wanting a smaller home is to encourage my family (which just consists of Rick, myself, and a cat--but it's a start!) to spend more time outside. I even take my cat on a walk on a leash, that's how much of a believer I am in being connected to trees, plants, other living things found in nature. I hate to see kids sitting around in front of one screen after another. No wonder so many kids are obese. It pains me to also know that our Western desire for more is hurting the earth (it takes a lot more energy to heat and cool a 5 bedroom home, than a simple 2-3 bedroom bungalow-given they both have up-to-date insulation, etc.). Same goes for big SUVs. What gives with that trend, anyway? I never see any of the people who drive these babies involved in off-roading excursions. It is simply an assault on our air, and it pisses me off.

There's also a true sense of peace that comes from tending your home and garden. I do not follow the Tao in whole, but there's an essence of mindfulness created when one stops to notice tiny buds, the way the air smells after it rains, the songs of the cicadas...

It goes without saying that my heart is in the country. I am truly a country gal, but alas! I am betrothed to an urban aficionado with an allergy to all things found in nature. This seems to be some cruel twist of fate, but here it is: country girl in the city (not to be confused with Amish in the City, although I was born in a very small southern Indiana town just 5 minutes from Montgomery, from whence one of the Amish guys came -- Go Montgomery, Indiana boy! You show those city bastards!).

But I digress...

Anyway, I am very enthusiastic about the possibilities of re-creating a smaller home and adding solar panels, energy and water saving devices, and a large vegetable garden. Unfortunately the local bylaw prohibits farm animals, so I will have to do without the goats and chickens. This concept of "little house on the prairie"-meets-Toronto is keeping me going through the unusually nasty, cold summer. And, is also giving me reason to stay patient as we build up just enough to move out of our little apartment dwelling into our first home. The thought of owning a home is both scary and thrilling. I have heard horror stories, but most people will agree, the freedom to create a home for yourself and your family is powerful and compelling, especially if it is a dwelling that helps create self-sufficiency.

In the meantime, I am pondering some things I can do with respect to gardening, lifestyle change, etc. that can be accomplished in a rental apartment. Does anyone have any ideas? I don't have a lot of natural light, so bear that in mind, and we have about two-three months of really good weather in Toronto. Any and all feedback is appreciated. I do grow herbs and try to use mostly natural cleaning products.

jane_crow, trying to appreciate the simpler things in life


Blogger Terry said...

We always did tomato plants while in Toronto. If you can hang a plant on your windowsill (outside) try strawberries, but they may hang down into your neighbour's if you have them. Chives and rosemary last forever too. Get a good bug spray too(some of the natural ones are great).

It's always great to own your own home (from what I've heard, its alot like having kids, lots of time, money and effort, but you get to shape and mold). Personally, I like to play with my power tools and thats hard to do in an apartment, so I help all my friends with their projects. Someday.....

1:16 PM  

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