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How Homesteaders Can Reach Out to Help Others

As homesteaders, we’re already ahead of the curve when it comes to self-reliance and resilience. We understand how important it is to make the most of our land and resources.

A red farm house with a field of dandelions out front.
For many of us, the choice to homestead is about creating simplicity and self-sufficiency in a complicated world. But that doesn’t have to keep us separated from the wider world around us.

Homesteaders do what we can to grow as much of our food as possible. We know how to ‘make do and mend’, we’re more in tune with the natural world, and we tend to have a strong body of core skills to fall back on. 

Many of us live in rural locations and have outside growing space. And we’ve already built up our skills and experience and worked our way up to a more sustainable way of life.

Homesteading can have its challenges, of course, and it’s a lot of hard work. We spend our days waging war on garden pests, wrangling escape-artist chickens, or battling headstrong livestock.

And on rainy days, or in the depths of winter, I’m sure many of us feel the weight of all our chores.

a man loads a wheelbarrow with firewood in a wintery forest.
It seems you always need more firewood.

But it’s important to remember we’re very lucky too.

Not everyone finds themselves in such a fortunate position. Most of the world’s population lives in cities, and total self-reliance is out of their reach.

We all have a tendency to think about our own households and daily concerns before considering the wider world. But we each have our roles to play, and choosing to live a simpler life doesn’t always mean distancing ourselves from the rest of humanity.

What Can Homesteaders Do to Help?

When misfortune strikes those around us, be it a storm that takes out the power or the devastation of fire; as established homesteaders, we’re uniquely able to offer resources, help, and advice.

A woman holding a battery powered lantern up to a breaker box in the dark.
Modern life is great – until mother nature reminds us how easily it can be disrupted.

Through the simple act of reaching out a helping hand, we encourage our neighbors to begin or continue their own journey towards sustainability.

So what can we established homesteaders do to reach out to help others?

Here are a few suggestions:

Resources Homesteaders Might Offer

A smiling woman hands a basket full of produce to an elderly woman
It’s not hard to think of ways we can help – in times of crisis the basic needs of food, shelter, and warmth offer us plenty of opportunities to help others.

You don’t need to reach out to the entire world to make a difference. Often you can do the most good right in your own neighborhood. And there’s no better time to highlight the advantages of a self-sufficient lifestyle, than when modern life grinds to a halt.

You might:

  • Show up with a gift of food – fresh eggs, homemade jam, soup, or bread are all appreciated gifts in times of crisis.
A young woman holds a chicken under her arm and a basket of eggs. She is smiling at the camera.
A sharing eggs when someone can’t get to the store is a small act, but offers a big impact and a great message.

Link up with local authorities and charities to donate to food banks and soup kitchens with excess pantry stores or fresh produce.

Share your old tools, compost, seeds, or plants with those keen to start growing their own.

A row of old garden tools leaning up against a shed.
We’ve all got a few extra tools laying around that could be put to good use.
  • Offer to help dig a garden or build raised beds.
  • Deliver a few handmade goods in a time of need, such as a gift of hand-dipped candles in a power outage or a couple of bars of soap, or a hand-knit hat.
  • And if you’re able, opening your home to a neighbor in need is a great help.

Sharing Homesteading Skills

Even when we can’t share physical resources, we can still reach out to help others online and share our homesteading skills. 

We might:

  • Create new blogs/ post useful content or answer people’s questions on social media.
  • Make videos to show people how to grow, preserve, cook, etc.
  • Start online courses and seminars for those keen to get growing.
  • Set up new online community groups to help new growers/ would-be homesteaders in our areas.

Think about the skills and information that people might find useful.

Your experience as a homesteader could mean that you’re well placed to offer a lot of help. You might be able to offer information about:

  • garden design/ getting started with home growing
  • organic gardening and growing
A group of people are standing around a raised bed while a man points to what is growing in the bed.
One of the greatest gifts you can share as a homesteader is your knowledge.
  • dealing with common garden problems and pitfalls
  • small-scale animal husbandry
  • making the most of a harvest and preserving food
  • cooking fresh and healthy ingredients from scratch
  • homeschooling/ nurturing children at home
  • age-old skills like woodworking, basketry, knitting, weaving, sewing, etc.
  • making herbal remedies, or other items from natural plant products 
  • upcycling and making the most of what you already have

How can you get that kind of information out to those who need it?

Consider offering classes locally, or even just offering to spend an afternoon with someone eager to learn. It can help to have someone on hand to communicate with in real-time – someone who has specific skills and experience. 

Four people are working in a large vegetable garden.
Getting people involved and sharing your experience is creating the next generation of homesteaders.

The Happy Homesteader

Don’t forget one of the most important resources we have as homesteaders – an unusual lifestyle. A look into a world other than the norm is a great way to boost morale, both locally and in an online community.  

Many people are truly inspired by homesteading. They can be buoyed by what resilient and sustainability-minded people around the world have managed to do.

A smiling woman gives a lamb a bottle of milk.
Homesteaders are often involved in daily tasks that most people find fascinating. Encourage their curiosity by sharing.

So perhaps as a homesteader your role will simply be to spread your love of nature and sustainable living out into the world. Sending out positive messages – hope for a better future – could be one more way to reach out and help others in a time of need. 

  • Take beautiful artistic photos or videos of your garden.
  • Make art or music to lighten people’s moods.
  • Show videos of animal escapades to amuse kids (and adults).
A man crouches with a camera, photographing a flock of sheep.
One of the easiest things you can do is share your life through photos or stories.
  • Show people that life goes on as the seasons change, with beautiful photos or videos of your homestead. 
  • Write amusing posts about your trials, travails and joyous moments on your homestead. 

Boosting morale is another way you can contribute and reach out to help others. 

When life throws us a curveball, especially one that affects us all, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless, wondering what we can do to help. But as homesteaders, this is what it’s all about – a life of self-reliance and self-sufficiency. Living that life doesn’t mean shutting out the world, rather it equips us to be even more helpful when things get tough.

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Elizabeth Waddington

Elizabeth Waddington is a writer, permaculture designer and green living consultant. She is a practical, hands-on gardener, with a background in philosophy: (an MA in English-Philosophy from St Andrews University). She has long had an interest in ecology, gardening and sustainability and is fascinated by how thought can generate action, and ideas can generate positive change.

In 2014, she and her husband moved to their forever home in the country. She graduated from allotment gardening to organically managing 1/3 of an acre of land, including a mature fruit orchard,which she has turned into a productive forest garden. The yield from the garden is increasing year on year – rapidly approaching an annual weight in produce of almost 1 ton.

She has filled the rest of the garden with a polytunnel, a vegetable patch, a herb garden, a wildlife pond, woodland areas and more. Since moving to the property she has also rescued many chickens from factory farms, keeping them for their eggs, and moved much closer to self-sufficiency. She has made many strides in attracting local wildlife and increasing biodiversity on the site.

When she is not gardening, Elizabeth spends a lot of time working remotely on permaculture garden projects around the world. Amongst other things, she has designed private gardens in regions as diverse as Canada, Minnesota, Texas, the Arizona/California desert, and the Dominican Republic, commercial aquaponics schemes, food forests and community gardens in a wide range of global locations.

In addition to designing gardens, Elizabeth also works in a consultancy capacity, offering ongoing support and training for gardeners and growers around the globe. She has created booklets and aided in the design of Food Kits to help gardeners to cool and warm climates to grow their own food, for example. She is undertaking ongoing work for NGO Somalia Dryland Solutions and a number of other non governmental organisations, and works as an environmental consultant for several sustainable companies.

Visit her website here and follow along on her Facebook page here.