PHOTO: Lisa Johns/Flickr
Aliza Sollins
January 25, 2016

Urban farming and homesteading can be overwhelming, and it’s OK to give up sometimes. Over the years, I’ve spent time evaluating whether a project I’m working on is worth the energy spent. Letting a project go isn’t a failure—it’s a path to a more efficient and functional urban homestead.

Here are a few urban homesteading projects that I’ve given up over the years, so my energy could be spent in a more worthwhile manner. Perhaps you’ve found yourself in a similar situation.

Indoor Gardening

One of my first gardening projects involved converting an old filing drawer into an indoor planter for ginger, but the mice in my apartment building loved digging into the soft soil of the planter box. I had dirt and mouse droppings everywhere. I soon realized that the mess and effort were not were not worth the tiny yields of indoor ginger.

What I Did Instead

After this small-scale gardening attempt, I realized I would rather find a community garden so that I had more space to grow. I still enjoy indoor houseplants and may grow some herbs or other small-scale plants inside in the future.

Miniature Goats

One of the homes on our block Was vacant for more five years. We decided to clean out the overgrown yard using two miniature goats purchased through Craigslist from a local goat dairy hobbyist. The goats cleaned out the overgrown brush in about two weeks.

We kept the goats around for a little while, feeding them a grain-based goat feed and any dry branches and leaves we could find. They didn’t seem to care much for fruit and vegetable scraps from the garden, though they loved apple slices. After a few weeks, the goats were making a lot of noise early in the morning. I was worried about disturbing the neighbors, and the goats drew a lot of attention, so I found someone looking for animals to clear brush on their property through Craigslist and donated the goats to a better cause.

What I Did Instead

I preferred to raise chickens rather than miniature goats. The chickens ate more household scraps and provided more consistent resources through eggs and then eventually broth.

Sourdough

Some people are regular bakers and their sourdough starter is their baby. I had a year or two like this, but after a while, I let the sourdough starter go in exchange for a few packets of bread yeast kept in the freezer.

What I Did Instead

Oats are my jam in the morning these days, from granola to steel-cut. I make a great snack treat with oats, peanut butter, flax seeds and cranberries—sometimes I’ll add in shredded coconut, walnuts, dates or whatever else is in the pantry. Bread-making is now an occasional project, and I use the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (Thomas Dunne Books, 2007) no-knead method.

Of course, these projects might fit perfectly into your ideal urban homestead. It all depends on what works best for your home and garden. The important thing is to evaluate your projects and determine if they are helping you spend your energy wisely. Don’t be afraid to let a project go.



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