Homestead in the City: Channeling Your Inner Laura Ingalls Wilder

Years ago, PBS launched a reality show about frontier life, and a fellow Los Angeles-based friend thought it a good idea that we apply – pitching ourselves as a “modern” family of 20-somethings who could create community, grow food, harvest crops and live off the land.

My mother had a different take on it. “You know,” she said, “that if you want to eat chicken in frontier life, you’d have to KILL said chicken.”

For someone who names her bathtub spiders before she rescues them with a cup and sets them free, it was a definitive moment.  It was then that I decided I could be a vegetarian if needed.  And it was also then that my friend and I realized that NONE of our L.A. friends were down with living the hard prairie / farm / homesteader lifestyle.

Maybe it was being raised on healthy doses of Laura Ingalls Wilder, both in book and via Michael-Landon-as-Pa-Ingalls-on-my-TV, but I *may* tend to romanticize what it means to truly live off the land.  In reality, I do want to appreciate the everyday, common occurrences that Ingalls Wilder wrote about:

“The true way to live is to enjoy every moment as it passes, and surely it is in the everyday things around us that the beauty of life lies.”


“As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness — just the pure air to breathe and the strength to breath it; just warmth and shelter and home folks; just plain food that gives us strength; the bright sunshine on a cold day; and a cool breeze when the day is warm.”
―― Laura Ingalls Wilder, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farm Journalist: Writings from the Ozarks &  Writings to Young Women from Laura Ingalls Wilder – Volume One: On Wisdom and Virtues

How does one homestead in the city? A friend jokes that to live in Echo Park means to own at least one chicken. Do you have farm fresh eggs delivered to you from your backyard hen?

If you’re hankering toward homesteading – check out a few sites to see how other city-dwellers are doing it.  Urban Homestead began in 1969, in search of a more self-sufficient lifestyle. Read the history and follow what is, in the face of our ready-made lifestyle, a truly pioneering way of living via their blog.  And check out WebEcoist for 14 steps to an urban homestead.

If you want to add a tome to your book club reading list, check out The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City. One review calls it “A delightfully readable and very useful guide to front- and back-yard vegetable gardening, food foraging, food preserving, chicken keeping, and other useful skills for anyone interested in taking a more active role in growing and preparing the food they eat.”

How about it? Are you a modern day Laura Ingalls Wilder?  Let us know – tweet us your photos, struggles, success stories @TheCityFarm!

(Photo: WebEcoist)