In this chapter, we will discuss strategies to help reduce your carbon footprint, become completely self-sufficient and even generate a revenue with some green homesteading techniques.
If you’re tired of making frequent trips to your town’s market to buy the bare necessities, then you’ve probably already considered making everything yourself. Becoming entirely self-sufficient is a way of life for many people who have built their own tiny homes. Of course, where you live and what resources you have access to will determine which items you’ll be able to grow and make yourself.
Homesteaders all over the world sell the items they grow on their land and the items that make from home. By growing your own food, you will be able to achieve self-sufficiency, better nutrition for you and your family, extra income and even your own homesteading business. If the land surrounding your tiny home is fertile then you should have no problem growing enough crops to feed your entire family. When selecting spot to ultimately park your tiny home, the quality of the soil should be a priority. Look for dirt that is most about three to four inches underground. If your soil is dry and dusty, there is no point in planting crops in that area.
The first thing to do when growing your own food for you and your family is to make a list of all of the foods you will enjoy eating most. Keep in mind the season that each crop thrives in, the time it will take between sowing your crops and harvesting and how much attention each crop will require. Will you need to spend extra money on things like quality fertilizer and an irrigation system, or can you grow a sufficient amount of food merely by watering them with a watering can every day? Will you have to deal with things like birds, rabbits and other produce-hungry predators where you live? It’s important to take into consideration the total cost of sowing, growing and harvesting your own food from the moment you plant your first seed to the time it ends up on your dinner plate.
While crops such as apple and orange trees are good ideas as a long term homesteading strategy, the first few crops that you plant should be foods that you can harvest and enjoy the same year. Produce such as tomatoes, radishes, carrots, strawberries, lettuce and other fruits and vegetables are reliable and relatively easy to grow regardless of your gardening ability. Before you plant anything, research what season is best for planting what crops and when the best time of the year is to harvest. Once you have everything planned out on a piece of paper, similar to how you designed your tiny home building plan, it’s time to make a trip to the hardware store to buy seeds and fertilizer as well as stakes and twine to build a small fence around your garden.
Only buy the items that you cannot make yourself. The last thing you want to do is struggle to find storage space for bags of fertilizer and fencing material onboard your tiny home. Some families create their own fertilizer from waste and compost, and the gray water that you’ve been collecting from your showers And sinks is perfect for watering your plants. You’ll need to build a fence around your crops to keep out animals, however, search the recyclable items inside your tiny home before you go out and buy the materials to build a fence. Even after you’ve built a fence, be mindful of signs of animals eating your crops. Depending on what type of animals are eating your crops, your may need to build additional fences, scarecrows or set traps. Poison and pesticides should be avoided whenever possible.
Next, survey your land and decide how much space you will dedicate each crop. Dig trenches in rows for each crop and make sure that each trench is spaced far apart from one another. Make sure that they are planted in an area that will get ample sunlight and will be easy to water on a daily basis.
A majority of tiny home owners keep some form of a herb garden. Is something that can be managed inside of your house, on your porch or in a bed of herbs next to your other crops if you plan of growing herbs in large quantities. Common herbs, such as basil, rosemary, thyme and many more area easy to grow and a great addition to any home cooked meal. Many herbs can able to ground up and distilled in alcohol to create powerful tincures that have a variety of applications.
Another homesteading tip you may want to consider is caring for livestock. If you have the land, financial means and time to care for your own livestock you will be able to produce valuable foods such as eggs, milk, cheese and meat for you and your family. A few chickens, goats or cows are an excellent place to start when it comes to livestock. The trick to successfully raising livestock is to keep the number of animals you own to manageable level. You should avoid the need to build chicken coops or barns whenever possible. Instead, keep your livestock contained within a large fenced off area so that they can graze openly while keeping the predators at bay. Cows and goats should be grass fed and milked by hand.
One of the benefits of keeping livestock is that you will be able to breed them on your own and produce even more food for you and your family as time goes on. If you plan on hatching chicken eggs as part of your long term tiny home self-sufficiency strategy, you will need to build an incubator. This is a one-time cost that will allow you to enjoy more eggs and chicken meat in the future.
Making items such as soaps, candles, lotions and balms are another great addition to your overall self-sufficiency strategy. The benefit of making these items yourself is that they can be made organic and free from many of the harmful or unnecessary additives that are in commercial products. One of the drawbacks of making these items is that that are usually made in bulk and you will need you find storage space in your tiny home for all of the ingredients and precursors for homemade items.
There are plenty of tiny home owners who have taken to homesteading in order to make an income living off of their own land. If you have a surplus of crops, consider selling them to local restaurants or even opening up a booth at your local farmer’s market to let the whole community enjoy them. Homemade items, such as soap, candles, lotion, balms, tinctures and event handmade jewelry is a commodity in most local markets and easy to sell.
There are also certain types of crops that many homesteaders grow specifically to sell to merchants. Items such as bamboo reeds, oyster mushrooms, garlic and ginseng are all valuable in most local markets and can be sold at a high price. If you plan on growing crops to sell, be sure and check your local market prices first and, if possible, locate potential buyers before investing in cash crops.
Growing for income is long term strategy which will require you to obtain a business license from your state. If you plan on selling meat or eggs, you will need to petition for a Homesteading Foods license and the area you’re using for a farm may be subject to inspection. Again, this all depends on what state you live in, as each region has their own, unique laws when it comes to selling produce, however, if your intention is to simply consume everything that you grow in the name of self-sufficiency, no additional license is required.
If you would like to learn more about homesteading and how you can earn money by living off of your land, read How to Make Money Homesteading.
Lastly, one of the best parts about owning a tiny home is the freedom to travel and live wherever you want. Keeping those tiny home parking tips from Chapter 2 in mind, the best way to safely and legally travel and stay somewhere for more than a few days is by reaching out to other tiny home owners.
Most of the people who have built their own tiny homes live on their own property for most of the year. There is a whole community of tiny homes who would love to do a land swap, in which two tiny homes park on each other’s land for an extended stay and enjoy the local sights.
Another advantage of being in the tiny home community is sharing your experience with others. There are plenty of tiny home forums online where you can meet other people who have built their own home, swap strategies, share stories and make like-minded friends.