Ever fantasize about going “back to the land”? Growing your salad and side dishes, making your own goat cheese: that kind of thing. But, you tell yourself, it can’t be done. Not until you own that idyllic farm.
Bollocks, argues 26-year old Jenna Woginrich in her Mother Earth News blog post titled “A Renter’s Homestead.” Jenna is a homesteader who grows tomatoes, raises chickens and spins yarn from her own angora rabbits. She’s also a renter – something that doesn’t keep her from taking steps toward self-sufficiency.
The landlords I’ve had would’ve freaked out if they’d known about my cat. I can’t imagine what they’d do if they found out I was keeping heirloom chickens. Actually, I can. It rhymes with depicted. Jenna has an idea for keeping landlords happy, though: “offer them a dozen organic free-range eggs every two weeks and some homemade tomato sauce. They’ll cave like spelunkers.”
In my experience, if the place you rent has an “outside”, most landlords are just thrilled to learn you’re a gardener – they’re probably not going to impose stylistic considerations on the types of plants you introduce. After all, before you came along, the yard probably only saw rudimentary lawn maintenance.
I got started in vegetable gardening because I was a renter. Vegetable seeds are cheap, and investing money on perennials for someone else’s garden wasn’t on my to-do list. I had a big lawn-filled backyard that needed… something other than lawn. A few months later, I had a big, beautiful veggie garden.
Don’t have a yard? You’d be amazed what you can grow on a teeny tiny balcony. No balcony? Find yourself a community garden and get yourself a plot. (If the waitlist is too long, spearhead the development of a new community garden in your ‘hood. Many local governments are increasingly sensitive to the benefits of community gardening. If they balk, tell ’em it’s good for the economy.)
Point is, as Jenna puts it, “you don’t have to put off your fresh food dreams” just because the conditions aren’t as ideal as you think they ought to be. Growing even a little bit of your meal is better than all store-bought, right?
Read Jenna’s blog here.
Thank you for this post. :)
As a renter and balcony gardener, I laughed out loud at “rhymes with depicted.” Yes, oh yes.
You are right. Every little bit makes a difference.
What an awesome article. Gotta love Mother Earth News!
I’m one of those renters and balcony growers as well, and even in a zone 4a/3b and with a northwest facing balcony we get some pretty good eats.
But I certainly still daydreaming about my own little Permaculture paradise that would have enough space for cluckers, goats, horses (et al!). *sigh*
Thanks for sharing :)
Andrea Bellamy says
Marcelle – glad I made you LOL ;)
Sheila – thanks for commenting. I’ve added you to my blogroll.
Laurel – I thought it was a great article, too! I know, I know – I have permaculture paradise dreams too.
Was very encouraged to read your article. i live in a semi arid area (Botswana, southern africa), having grown up in Zambia which has moderate climet i found it difficult to settle here, what with having to buy all your friuts and veggies. My husband and i later bought some land and i have turnde our small yard into a lovely vegetable garden with some space for a lawn. I grow my plants orhaically and collect vegetables from our local supermarket to make compost i also uses my scrap from the kitchen). Anyway i hope more people will be encouraged by your work! cheers to you!