This is My Urban Homestead! Perhaps You’d Like Your Own?


The Fraudulent Farmstead, an urban homestead


Today, in reaction to a lot of nonsense coming out of the Dervaes family in California, is the Urban Homesteaders Day of Action. For an update on the trademark kerfluffle that started the electronic protest, check out Take Back Urban Homesteading on Facebook.

The short version is that a family that has been prominent in the urban homesteading community for some time managed to trademark several names that are actually in common usage, including Urban Homesteading and Urban Homestead. They’ve sent some unpleasant letters to bloggers and other communications-type people in an attempt to enforce this trademark.

The bloggers and other communications-type people, including yours truly, think they’re off their nut.

Instead of going into any detail about this legal scuffle, I’m just going to say that it’s a shame that a family that has done such good work in promoting urban gardening and homesteading has shattered their credibility with this action. On the other hand, they’ve done a bang-up job of pissing off a lot of urban homesteaders and uniting us.

My urban homestead is less than a tenth of an acre in Indianapolis, the heart of Zone 5. I’ve ripped up the front lawn to plant vegetables, started dwarf apple and cherry trees, stuck strawberries in the tree lawn, and housed chickens in my garage. Anyone who would like to suggest that the Fraudulent Farmstead is not an urban homestead is welcome to help come clean out the chicken coop.

Urban homesteading is at its heart an act of hope. It’s an act of creativity. It’s an act of community. Urban homesteading lets me take control of my food supply while encouraging my neighbors to do the same. No one can be 100 percent self-sufficient; that’s a myth. Even if we could be, we shouldn’t try to be. Humans are tribal creatures, and I’d rather build a community than isolate myself in my own little farm kingdom. And the more of us urban homesteaders there are, the more we can share knowledge and trade or give away crops (particularly useful when the zucchini come in, or when you can’t possibly turn all of the apples into applesauce).

Since installing vegetables in the front lawn and chickens in the garage, I’ve met a lot of neighbors. They stop by to chat over the tomatoes, sample strawberries from the front beds, and bring their kids by to visit the chickens. In a small way, my urban homestead is helping to build my neighborhood and a friendlier community. If even one of those neighbors is inspired to plant tomatoes when she’d never though she could, that can only be a good thing.

By homesteading on my city plot, I’ve produced good, healthy food; a more welcoming environment for birds and insects; an entertaining spot for the neighbors; and a on-going experiment that gives me great joy and deep satisfaction. I love my urban homestead. Perhaps you’d like one of your own?

Fraudulent Farmgirl
I teach garden and homesteading skills—the stuff your great-grandmother knew how to do. But if there's a faster, cheaper, or easier way to do it, I'll find it!By day, I design earth-friendly gardens for Spotts Garden Service. By night, I don my Wellies to become the Fraudulent Farmgirl. On my small urban homestead, I've ripped out the front lawn to plant vegetables and fruit trees, turned the garage into a chicken coop and grown enough strawberries to feed half the neighborhood.


  1. Amazing what can be accomplished on 1/10 isn’t it. I am the same 1/10th in zone 5 of Nebraska. We have chickens, about to finally bring our goats home as well as a decent garden and are planting quite a few fruit trees this year. We are starting bees on another urban farm next month as well. I agree urban homesteading is an act of hope. Actually in an article I was recently in I mentioned that chicken keeping and meeting fellow chicken keepers gives me hope. I agree it is great for community building. Thanks for your post.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Kate! I’d love to keep bees, but our dog likes to snack on any she can catch. In the interest of avoiding vet bills, bees are on hold. Oooh, and goats? How cool! Happy homesteading!

  2. beautiful post and i love the name of your blog.

    (@ KAte, where are you in Nebraska? I grew up in Hastings. My parents still live there. I’m trying to get my folks to order regularly from the Nebraska Food Coop.)

  3. Brillant! I especially loved this, “Urban homesteading is at its heart an act of hope. It’s an act of creativity. It’s an act of community.”


    1. Thanks! It is, you know. And you would know, especially after the great strawberry harvest of 2010 : )

  4. Found your blog through IGI. Can I hire you to plan my backyard?? We took out an aged bradford pear and now have SUN! This year, I think my kids are old enough to play by themselves and let me do some digging. I’ve asked to go to the plant sale at Trinity for Mother’s Day. Now if I only knew what to buy . . .

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