There is a lot of growing happening in these parts. Yesterday's annual Mayfair street festival in Harvard Square included an urban agricultural component called "Get Growing!" which we felt lucky to be a part of. As I've written before, my five-year-old is passionate about "pod-picking," or helping rid the city of Black Swallow-wort pods, an invasive weed that imitates milkweed thus confusing Monarch butterflies who lay their ill-fated eggs there. The organizer of the urban agricultural fair appreciates my daughter's passion and solicited her help in spreading the word about these pesky plants at yesterday's festival.
In addition to education on invasive plant species, the urban agricultural fair featured many inspiring resources to create and enhance one's own urban homestead. I am fantasizing about beekeeping, backyard chicken pens, and all of the luscious food we could grow if only we had an ounce of sunlight in our shared backyard, darkened by an old, towering, beautiful pine tree. While bees and chickens will likely remain fantasies while we share a homestead with five other families in our city condo building, the growing part of homesteading is so captivating and realistic, even on the very small scale of our container garden on the back deck. It seems we can't pass a nursery these days without purchasing just one more seedling of parsley, which my five-year-old devours in the mini-salads she creates from our modest herb garden.
The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City, by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen. Brimming with ideas for returning our homes to units of production instead of only consumption, the book tackles simple steps (like composting and using raised garden beds), and more ambitious projects (like chicken and bee-keeping), revisits the homemaking arts of preserving foods and making yogurts and cheeses and butter, and offers strategies for producing one's own energy on an urban homestead.
I can't help but get excited by the whole idea of urban homesteading, of (re)discovering the many ways to produce more within and from our homes (aside from carbon), and in so doing reconnecting more deeply with nature, food, and family. I find it remarkable how much we are truly able to accomplish in our homes, how self-sufficient we can be, when we make the decision to rely less on factories and more on ourselves.