Hopefully we are all going to our weekly farmers markets this summer to take advantage of the abundance of quality organic food. But what about those of us who want to bring a little bit of the farm home? A new article in the New York Times Magazine shows how even on what they describe as “a gritty block in Oakland,” people are bringing farming traditions to urban areas. There is a growing national movement of urbanites, perhaps more sedentary “back-to-the-landers”, who are growing, pruning, canning, fermenting and brewing their way to a more sustainable and bucolic life.
Much like so many of our small farms struggling to get by, today’s urbanites are trying to get the most out of every food purchase the make. So when tomatoes are plentiful, it makes sense to buy in bulk and can some for leaner times. And when prices of staples such as cheese and beer go up, it just makes sense to produce your own. The list things urban homesteaders are doing is long, from freezing soup bases and fermenting krauts to raising chickens and making honey wine—there really is something here for everyone, regardless of gastronomic preferences.
Luckily for us, Oakland is a homesteading hotbed, with a variety of resources and publications feeding this exciting movement. A good place to start is to visit the Institute for Urban Homesteading, which offers a variety of classes for a very cheap rate. (There are even classes on animal husbandry and bee keeping.) I suggest you take a look and sign up now, as the classes are filling.
Despite our desires to be out in the country, this is an exciting time to be urban. More and more, creative and energetic people are finding new ways to have a piece of rural life in our biggest cities. This truly brings the politics of food home. More than what food you buy, this about what your household does with it.
I hope to see you in class!