I believe in the concept of sustainable living,  eating locally, and protecting the environment, but I’m not sure I’ll ever be a full-on and committed urban homesteader.  Sure, in small ways I suppose I am.  We grow organic blueberries, raspberries, and tomatoes with a few vegetables thrown in every year, but even though more and more families in the suburbs are adding livestock and chickens, I just don’t see us going there.  But for those who are interested, “The Complete Idiot’s Guide® to Urban Homesteading” is an excellent resource.

First, sustainable living is about taking control of your resources and saving money.  And The Complete Idiot’s Guide® to Urban Homesteading‘s goal is to teach you how to do this in urban areas.  Written by urban homesteader expert, Sundari Elizabeth Kraft, the book shares her hands-on knowledge of:

  • How to grow and preserve organic foods
  • How to compost your household waste
  • How you can raise small livestock and chickens in a small urban setting
  • How to reuse your gray water for gardening and outside cleaning
  • Possible ways to save money on transportation and commuting
  • Ways to generate electricity and biofuels
  • Creative recycling and reuse of used items
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The author claims The Complete Idiot’s Guide® to Urban Homesteading has all the information you’ll need to be successful in any city from New York, Chicago, or Houston to Austin, San Francisco, or Atlanta.  At all times, the author does remind readers to check local codes because not all cities and towns allow livestock. She also warns that initially your neighbor may think it’s great they’re getting organic and free-range farm eggs from you, but they may not if they’re awakened every morning by your rooster.

Some of the ideas are a bit much for me, but I understand the concept, and it reminds me of when I was growing up.  In the 70’s it wasn’t unusual at all that we had a cow, geese, chickens, and horses at our house.  My sister lives there now, and there haven’t been any farm animals on the property in 30 years.  It’s amazing how much life has changed in just 30 years – people are so much more dependent on processed and packaged foods now.  As kids, we had whole milk, homemade butter,  and fresh eggs that we were sent out to fetch from the hen house. We had home canned fruits and vegetables lining the walls – we were much more self-sufficient back then.  Sundari’s book reminds us that we can go back and reap the benefits of living closer to the land, even in urban areas.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide® to  Urban Homesteading lets you start back to a life of self-sufficiency by small batch preserving or making your soap.  Both are activities I think I can be successful at, and I’ll be attempting them soon.  You don’t have to go all out and start hauling bales of hay.  This book lets you pick and choose what fits your life now and gives you additional ideas for when you’re ready to go further.

About the author

Sundari Elizabeth Kraft (Denver, Colo.) has been a dedicated urban homesteader for nearly a decade. Currently, she homesteads in Denver with her chickens, goats, and organic front yard garden. She organizes a group of community members to grow vegetables in city yards, and then sells and distributes the produce in the neighborhood. She sits on the Denver Food Policy Council and works with a number of local urban sustainability groups. Sundari teaches classes in backyard chicken and goat keeping, urban gardening, canning, and cooking.


The Complete Idiot’s Guide® to Urban Homesteading
ISBN: 9781615641048, June 2011, $18.95
Author: Sundari Elizabeth Kraft (Denver, CO)



Photo Credit:  Alpha Books