February 21, 2011

Urban Homesteading

Normally I try to keep my posts based on our goats and the world of goats. However, even the title says “sometimes the lives of their owners” so I feel as though I am justified to write about something in the world around me.

There is a lot of hoopla going around the blogosphere right now on the topic of copyrighting and trademarking common terms including the terms Urban Homesteading. While I believe in private property, sometimes things get a little out of hand. In response (you can read more at many different sites – google it) people around the country are writing about what urban homesteading means to them.

I can’t honestly say that I consider myself an urban farmer. However, I would be hard pressed to consider myself a full time farmer, so I guess I fall somewhere in between. The goats provide us with milk and occasionally meat and we (try to) grow many vegetables in the summer time (okay – so I TOTALLY failed last year – but this year I am determined to improve).

But, all that aside, that is not way urban farming is so important to me. No, the reason why I feel like it is so important is because I was raised as a city kid but with this incredible streak of agriculture. We always had a large vegetable garden and my mom was canning fruits since I was very small. Homemade food was the norm, not the exception. However, my life took and even large ag based when I started into goats. When I was in 4th or 5th grade I decided I wanted to own an animal I could get my own milk from. Since I lived in the heart of San Jose, I figured my mother would never let me have a cow (she told me later I was right about that) so I set about finding a way to get a goat. Reading every book in the library and writing reports on the topic were the start. Then I spent a year cleaning up other peoples goats. After many hoops and convincing my parents this was not just a whim, I was able to get a goat right before I started high school. 4 years may not seem like long to an adult – but it felt like forever for me.

Regardless, I soon became that strange goat girl. Lots of “getting your goat” jokes. I have talked to friends who grew up in a more rural area, and somehow being in 4H or raising livestock didn’t make them stand out. It wasn’t the only thing anyone ever remembered about them. For me, I was weird and so were all my weird habits – like breeding goats, watching goats kid, or milking 2x a day. But you know what – I was connected to my food. I understood that what I put in the animal was what I could get out. Milk didn’t just come from a carton, no more than vegetables only come in a plastic bag to be microwaved.

This is why urban farming is so important to me. It takes people back to where their food came from. It makes more “weird” people like me who have crazy schedules so they can be home to milk twice a day. It makes people excited about agriculture again. It reminds people that what you put into your animals it what you get out. I am not here to bash modern agriculture practices and I don’t think that being a supporter of urban agriculture doesn’t mean I can’t be a strong supporter in modern agriculture. It is about connecting people to their food and the land that feeds them and the more of my fellow “city kids” I see excited about my passion – the more excited about urban homesteading I get.

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