A Guide to Achieving Food Self-Sufficiency through Apartment Homesteading

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about food self-sufficiency.

I’ve noticed that organic foods are getting bigger and lasting way longer than it seems like they should. (For example, I bought organic milk in April that apparently expires in July. … WHAT?!)

There are a few alarming things about the non-organic produce. And not only does it taste really worse than it’s organic counterparts, (my berry-loving children won’t even eat some of the berries gross berries from the store nowadays…) who wants to buy a pound of strawberries if they’re so gigantic they can only fit 4 in the package?!

The same problem seems to also be happening with organic produce now. Not only is the quality going downhill, but it seems unnaturally big!(Tell me how they magically came up with a way to make gigantic foods with no pesticides, fertilizers etc. that aren’t GMO??)

Maybe it’s because I’m just a natural skeptic but… It’s just not sitting right with me.

The advent of lab-grown meat is as concerning as it is gross. I’m waiting for the day when companies pull the ol-switcheroo: we’ll find out that the meat we’ve been eating for the last 6 months was actually produced in a lab.

The fact that they can and are experimenting with new ways to genetically alter or mess with everyone’s food without their conscious awareness is kind of infuriating.

And don’t even get me started on artificial sweeteners! I ate a keto breakfast bar with xylitol in it and I have been DYING all day due to a gnawing burning pain in my stomach/solar plexus. Like a full 24 hours. … ONLY 1 BAR.

If I didn’t know better I would think I was being poisoned.

Sooooo I had to take this pseudoscientific, unsafe, not-FDA approved bitters tincture that I made, and it totally fixed what this scientifically-proven, peer reviewed, “totally safe” xylitol ingredient messed up.

Artificial sweeteners are just another BS “food” not fit for human consumption.

Oh, and then there’s this:

Apparently Pfizer makes GMO rennin (stuff that clots milk solids when making cheese) I don’t even trust Pfizer when it comes to pharmaceuticals, let alone food.

I GUESS IT’S TIME TO STOP EATING NOW.

(kidding)

Enter Apartment Homesteading, aka Urban Homesteading.

Luckily, the fine folks on the internet have been thinking about this exact same thing for years.

While I am pretty “homestead-y” in all of the other areas, I’ve never had the space to grow my own food. I didn’t realize that there were ways of actually growing A LOT of your own food in your apartment!

(Of course I plan to move away from the city eventually, but let’s get real here: PFIZER CHEESE. This is urgent.)

That’s right: with creativity, resourcefulness, and a bit of ingenuity, it’s entirely possible to create a self-sufficient food system within the confines of your living space.

This article will explore various strategies and techniques for acquiring your own food while living in apartments or other small spaces, maximizing the use of available space to achieve a sense of food autonomy.

Consider Container Gardening

If you have at least *some* outdoor space, such as a patio, yard, garage, windows or outside area, there are a lot of options.

Hanging baskets: You can put food in there. (You can even DIY macrame these.) | Photo by Sven Brandsma on Unsplash
Foods like blueberries and raspberries can be grown in large pots! | Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Believe it or not, there are loads of ways to grow food in regular plant pots! You just need to figure out how much sunlight the plants need and how much sunlight prospective locations get.

Granted, not all plants would make good container plants. But do some research and see if you can find a container-friendly variety of the plant you want to grow! (ex. Some species of blueberries have been specifically cultivated to grow well in containers.)

If you don’t have space to put these somewhere, maybe a family member or friend would let you put a vertical container garden in their yard.

If you’re a grassroots (hah, get it?) type you could maybe talk your landlord into starting a community garden that would improve food security for the people that live nearby!

Think Vertically

Like this, but with a derelict building. | Photo by Aleksandra Sapozhnikova on Unsplash

If you don’t have much outdoor space, you need to make the most of it.

Thinking vertically rather than horizontally opens up so many possibilities for growing your own food. You might be able to grow upwards of 5+ plants in a 12″ x 12″ area!

Here are some ideas:

Hydroponic Farming

Photo by Nadine Primeau on Unsplash

People have the misconception that hydroponic gardening is for growing pot. Lucky for us, it’s not! You can grow almost anything hydroponically, given of course that the plant grows above ground. (So carrots would probably be a no-go?)

The Aero Garden made hydroponic gardening accessible to everyone. They make all sorts of varieties and sizes of these small (or large in some cases) hydroponic gardens that can grow INDOORS and don’t need any soil– just water!

They make HUGE ones called hydroponic farms (that are so big you have to put them on the floor.) They fit like 21+ plants in there!

Not only that, but you can STACK THEM ON TOP OF EACH OTHER, which means you can probably grow just as much as you can with a regular garden? Insane!

The drawback is that they’re crazy expensive. Don’t worry if you can’t afford one though, because thanks to some innovative sellers on Amazon who clearly aren’t from America so they can give U.S. copyright laws the middle finger, there are a plethora of knock off ones for way cheaper.

(I personally have a knock-off AeroGarden, called a “LetPot” LOL.)

But if you can’t afford a LetPot either, (or you’re one of those people who, like me, insist on DIYing everything) you can just make your own!

Foraging & Wildcrafting

If you really don’t have any space to plant your own food, foraging is a good place to start.

In today’s world, corporations have us convinced that we NEED them to survive. It’s easy to forget that at one point, humans hunted and gathered their own foods. Everything we need to survive is already out in nature already!

Foraging & wildcrafting is the practice of finding and harvesting plants in the wild for food or medicine. There are loads of edible plants out there, including berries, nuts, mushrooms, herbs, greens and more.

You just need to know which ones are safe to eat!

Dandelion is one such herb that is not only edible but has a bunch of medicinal properties. I wrote this post on how to forage your own dandelion root and make “coffee” substitute with it.

Hunting & Fishing

It’s probably difficult to rely on only the above options exclusively, since protein/meat is a necessary nutrient. (I can imagine if I only had plants that I would be hungry all of the time. XD) Instead of buying your meat and fish from a grocery store, you can try hunting and/or fishing!

A deer might be enough to feed your family for a whole winter (or two!) I remember eating a lot of fish and venison as a kid.

While figuring out how to hunt on your own might be kind of difficult if you don’t already know how, fishing is a lot easier to get started with. You just need a fishing pole, some bait and probably a knife and knowledge on how to gut fish. You can easily freeze it and enjoy a fish fry at your leisure.

Seed Sprouting

Foods like bean sprouts can easily be grown in your own home– no soil needed! As a kid I remember we made them in sort of tube. But now, it looks like they have all sorts of fancy contraptions for sprouting beans. Here’s a simple/cheap tray style one that you can use for sprouting broccoli, mung beans, bean sprouts and other micro greens.

Back to the Roots also makes these micro greens growing kits. (These are EBT eligible, btw!) Really cool!

Mushroom Growing

If you can’t find mushrooms in the wild, you can always grow them! There are some awesome kits on Amazon that you can find to grow your own mushrooms. Here’s Lion’s Mane, Pink Oyster. (Also EBT eligible)

Frequent Your Local Farmer’s Markets

The last option that I’ve found to increase food self-sufficiency in an apartment isn’t one that you do yourself necessarily. But buying food from your local farmer’s market is a great way to keep the hands of greedy corporations (and pharmaceutical companies) out of your family’s food. The food is fresher, healthier, and sometimes cheaper.

Conclusion

Initially, I felt hopeless about becoming food-self-sufficient as an apartment renter. However, I found that there are many, many options for becoming independent from corporations when it comes to your food. If you do all of these things, you could haveveasily have enough food to support your family and become independent from large corporations, especially if you do other homesteading tasks too!

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