There was a big dust-up last week when some folks decided they would attempt to trademark the phrase "Urban Homestead" and "Urban Homesteading" among other things. Though these folks (who shall remain unnamed) carry much capital on the subject of urban homesteading and sustainable living, and have been role models and a source of inspiration for many people over the last few years, the public has responded with a backlash of epic proportions against the idea. The thought of trademarking such a classic, time honored, and public phrase such as "urban homestead" has generated a cavalcade of anger and disappointment.
I first heard the phrase "Urban Homestead" several years ago in a Mother Earth News magazine article and added it as a byline to my blog - Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes. What does an urban homestead mean? Everyone has a different definition and they're all right. Whether you live off the grid and grow 100% of your own food on 1/5 of an acre in Los Angeles or have tomatoes and herbs growing on your apartment balcony in Kansas City, you're an urban homesteader.
The call went out on the Internet to write a blog entry about what urban homesteading means to you. I normally don't get all preachy and didactic on you, so sorry if this rankles or annoys you, but I couldn't ignore a call from the wilds of the Internets.
So what does the concept of an Urban Homestead mean to me?
It means I think that the fruits and vegetables I plant, water, raise, prepare, and consume are better for me than something packaged in plastic and cardboard and sold by a multi-national conglomerate.
It means I believe that having four different varieties of apple trees, blueberries, and currants on my property is more important than having cable television, and that getting a wood burning stove is more of a priority than a new car.
It means I believe that gardening, cooking, and learning to be self sufficient is the BEST way to simultaneously demonstrate how much and how little I really know.
It means I believe that there is a day of reckoning coming where people who raise, grow, and store their own food will be happy they have ability to do so.
It means that I believe my salvation lies somewhere in the dirt in my yard, and with a shovel and plenty of time, I might find it.
It means that I believe that every person who gardens, raises chickens, shops at a Farmer's Market, recycles, shops at thrift stores, buys organic, or has a compost bin is making the world a better place, and is my kindred spirit.