1. Start Something Now

Whenever starting something new, I usually have to get over that hump of intimidation. But once begun, I usually think “this isn’t so hard; I wish I started earlier!” The lesson is start something now. Do not keep putting it off.

2. Start Small

Start small and you will not be overwhelmed. Put some veggies in pots on your balcony, dig a six-square-foot garden, plant a couple blueberry bushes and consider raising hens. Keeping hens is easier than you think! You will need a small shelter where they can be safe at night, a backyard in which they can run around, a feeder, waterer, and nest box.

3. Use your kitchen

Remember an essential part of “homesteading” is not just being outdoors. Make a habit of regularly learning new kitchen skills. Make creative meals from your food: learn to part a whole chicken, preserve fruit and vegetables, render and cook with lard, or cook with unfamiliar meat or veggies.

4. What you do not yet raise yourself, support your best local, sustainable farmers.

Look for local farmers who raise food to maximize benefit to the land, animals, eaters, farmers and community. Things to look for include: animals that are on regular fresh pasture, non-GMO feed; no chemical fertilizer/pesticides/herbicides on the land; no sub-therapeutic antibiotics; no chemical wormers and no nitrates/MSG/chemical preservatives in the food. If you can, go to the farm and look around, talk to the farmer, and get a tour.

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Jesse Straight (Col ’05) is the owner and farmer of Whiffletree Farm, where for the last five years he has been working to sustainably raise food.