Homesteading began in this country with the Homestead Act that was signed into law by President Lincoln in 1862. According to this legislation, people were allowed to obtain free land in exchange for the development of a homestead farm within a set time frame. If they successfully started their farm, the land it sat upon was theirs to keep.
Although homesteading laws are no longer in effect throughout most of Canada and the United States, the idea of homesteading appears to be catching on once again. We will take a look at the new definition of homesteading and visit some community colleges that are teaching students how to successfully adopt this way of life.
This video explains homesteading.
While homesteading in the 19th century was about staking your claim to a piece of land, today's definition is more about finding self-sufficiency in a simpler way of life. According to Modern Homesteading Today, modern homesteaders grow their own food, make their own clothing and even supply their own electricity to their homes through solar or wind power. Homesteading allows individuals to abandon the break-neck speed lifestyles common today, in favor of a simpler life living off the land and growing together as a family.
Homesteading can be done in any area of the country, including the heart of big cities. In fact, urban homesteading has become a popular concept, as more city dwellers learn to live self sufficiently as much as possible, despite their bustling surroundings.
Other homesteaders find that living on acreage is an excellent opportunity to plant larger crops and keep animals that supply food and other necessities. Many homesteaders own chickens, goats, and cows, in addition to growing large gardens and learning handcrafting skills that allow them to make clothing and items for the home.
Because many of these skills are a dying art in the culture we live in today, people interested in adopting a homesteading lifestyle often need to learn the basics of self-sufficiency before they can begin. While there are homesteading schools around the country that specifically teach these skills, the quality of training may be unpredictable.
Community colleges are now rising to the occasion with a handful of schools offering homesteading programs to teach students how to live off the land once again. We will look at two colleges that are bringing homesteading back into vogue with classes in a variety of sustainable living subjects.
This TEDx talk discusses sustainable food.
According to a report at PR Newswire, A-B Tech is breaking into the homesteading trend that is leading people in search of self-sufficiency and sustainable living. The program offers a wide range of courses related to homesteading, including urban, rural and advanced topics. The courses are available at A-B Tech's campus in North Carolina and include topics like beekeeping, sewing, quilting, and canning.
"The emerging generation is looking to break the current economic model," Shelley White, Interim Vice President of Workforce Development and Continuing Education, said in A-B Tech's press release. "People are choosing to make their own clothing rather than buy clothing from China and choosing to grow their own food or buy locally rather than purchase food trucked from California."
Ashley English, who teaches a class on how to raise chickens in the backyard for A-B Tech, agrees. She adds in the press release, "It doesn't matter if you live in a condo with no yard to speak of, or if you live on 11 wooded acres as I do, there's something to be gained in learning to meet your food, shelter or other basic needs."
Farming in Miami
At Miami Dade College, homesteading is gaining popularity as well. This school just announced the addition of homesteading classes at Fairchild Farm, the homestead branch of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. According to the college website, courses in the program include healthy cooking, canning, watercolor painting, tropical fruit propagation, and tropical fruit horticulture. Most of the courses are for three hours and are relatively inexpensive to take.
Homesteading appears to be coming back in vogue for some sectors of the population in this country, whether you live on acreage or in the heart of the city. Learning to support your family through your own skills is a novel ability that can come in handy in certain circumstances. For others, the simpler life and frugal living are appealing in the midst of a culture that proclaims the opposite in many instances. If homesteading sounds like something you would be interested in, contact your local community college to learn if they offer any homesteading courses in your area.
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