The Principles of  Homesteading

Modern HomesteadingThe term homesteading has been around for hundreds of years and can be broadly defined as a lifestyle based around self-sufficiency. Over the years it has evolved and can mean different things to different people. That’s why in this article I’m going to be looking at the history and basic principles of homesteading and helping you get a better understanding of the homesteading lifestyle.

History Of Homesteading

The Homestead Act (1862):

Use of the term homesteading in the US dates back to the creation of The Homestead Act in 1862. This act provided adult citizens with public land grants of 160 acres in exchange for living on the land continuously for 5 years and paying a small registration fee.

Subsistence Homesteads Division (1933): In the 1930s, the scope of homesteading expanded beyond the rich and to the poor when President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Subsistence Homesteads Division. This department was responsible for creating model communities where poor urban families could live on small plots of land, learn to produce their own food and become self-sustaining.

The Back To The Land Movement (1970s): In the 1970s, homesteading evolved beyond Government policy and became a social phenomenon with tens of thousands of North Americans deciding to migrate from cities to rural areas and live a more self-sufficient lifestyle. During this time, a number of popular homesteading publications (including Whole Earth Catalogs and The Mother Earth News) also started to hit the press and added to the popularity of the homesteading lifestyle.

Modern Homesteading (1990s – Present): Following the back to the land movement and the increased coverage of the homesteading lifestyle in the publishing world, homesteading has evolved to become a flexible set of principles rather than a lifestyle based on where you live. Modern homesteading now refers to any lifestyle which works towards self-sufficiency and can include using less energy, growing your own foods, supporting your local community and more.

Principles Of Modern Homesteading

As stated above, modern homesteading is not based on Government acts or location but is instead based around becoming more self-sufficient in any capacity. The list below outlines some of the main principles of modern homesteading:

Animal Rearing: Raising animals allows you to produce your own food, support the environment and more. Animal rearing can range from something as small as raising a couple of backyard chickens to something as large as raising livestock.

Gardening: Like raising animals, gardening allows you to produce your own food while being friendly to the environment. The scope of gardening can range from growing a few select herbs and vegetables indoors to growing all the vegetables you need on an outdoor plot of land.

Natural Homecare: By producing your own natural homecare products, you not only eliminate the need to buy them but you also avoid the harmful chemicals that they contain. The best part is that most natural cleaners can be easily produced using a simple combination of essential oils.

Natural Energy Production: With the recent advances in solar and wind power along with the availability of coal and wood, producing your own energy is now a very real possibility. Natural energy production can range from heating your home with firewood or naturally heating your water using solar power to supplying all your electricity through a combination of hydropower, solar power and wind turbines.


I hope this article has given you a better understanding of the homesteading lifestyle. As it’s evolved over the years, it’s no longer such a rigid term and you don’t necessarily have to live on a homestead to get started homesteading. You can get started with something as simple as growing a few vegetables, rearing some chickens or producing your natural cleaning products. So if a self-sustaining lifestyle sounds appealing to you, take another look at the principles of modern homesteading above and see which ones you can start implementing today.