Community Philosphy Blog and Library

HOMEGROWN Life: Am I Doing This Right?






It’s a question I find myself asking more often as I delve deeper into a homegrown lifestyle – What does it really mean to live HOMEGROWN? Am I doing this right?

(Photo via Caroline Malcolm)

Growing up as one of five in a rural New England town, I was accustomed to canning jam, green tomato pickles, and whatever else we could preserve, digging for potatoes and harvesting lettuce, wearing hand-me-down clothes and playing in the woods.  We lived more simply than most of our neighbors.  My parents built our log home together, we raised animals, and we ate dinner together at home, usually sourcing from the garden or from local farms.  It was our way of life and it was second nature to me.  We lived “homegrown” in order to survive, and to keep traditions alive in our family – and it was easy for us.

(Photo via Flickr)

Going to college in the “big city” allowed me luxuries that I didn’t have as a youngin’.  There was a movie theatre within walking distance! I could get pizza at 3 am! I could get across town and back without a car! It was a new and exciting way of life for me. I still enjoy the buzz of the city after four years of living it, but it isn’t the best environment to fully enjoy the greener pastures of a homegrown lifestyle.

Maybe it’s something instinctual inside of me that yearns for a simplified, way of life.  I want to live homegrown, but I’m not sure that I can do it on my own. I’ve enjoyed perusing local farmers’ market and making meals out of what I can source locally.  I find recycling, composting, and repurposing fun and easy to do. Crafting and DIY-ing feeds my creativity and imagination. I love caring for container “gardens” and talking about growing and planting with others.  But, am I doing enough to be “homegrown” and am I doing it correctly?

(Photo via Flickr)

I’m not canning or preserving on my own. I’m not generating my own energy.  I’m not growing everything I need to survive, nor am I purchasing solely from farmers.  I’m not making my own soaps, laundry detergent, or cosmetics (yet!). I’m still drinking mass-produced beer. And, I don’t feel that I’m really changing the world.  It’s daunting to think how far I have to go.  Living in a shoebox apartment on a shoestring budget, it’s daunting to think of all the “shoulda, coulda, wouldas” that would make my life more sustainable, my footprint smaller and myself a better steward of the land.  Sometimes, I’m just plain old overwhelmed.

But, I have found that this movement is less about doing everything, and more about doing something.  I want to live simpler and more self-sufficiently.  I want to grow my own food and utilize renewable energy.  I want to make my own clothing and cosmetics, but I am 22, fresh out of the dormitories, and just getting started on an independent life.  I am a newbie, and I’m not going to change the way I live overnight.

(Photo via Flickr)

Instead of being overwhelmed, I’m channeling that energy into making the most of what I have where I am in my own life, while contributing to a greater social movement in the meantime.  The more and more time I spend talking with folks who are also attempting to live homegrown, the more and more I feel that I am part of an alternative system of doing, eating, crafting, and spending.  The integrity and importance of this movement keeps me going on my path to establish a homegrown life.  And, I realize that I am doing more to become self-sufficient every day!  Despite needing to read books about canning, Google garden terminology, and research the ingredients in purchases that I do have to make as an urban resident, I am educating myself and about living homegrown, while teaching others new skills, too, which is at the heart of the matter!

We all can’t live as off-the-grid purists overnight, but we can follow a path to our own version of homegrown living.  We can plant the seeds of change first by informing ourselves and learning from those who emulate homegrown living – the homesteading superstars we all strive to be.  This dissemination of information and sharing of skills via hands-on experience or through a resource like builds a community within the movement, and increases motivation to realize our own homegrown goals. Whether that is growing herbs in a window box, starting a farm, or building an Earth house, we can all find ways to live homegrown and to inspire others to do the same.

Share your homegrown living tips. What motivates you? Why do you chose to live HOMEGROWN?  Add to our discussion and keep the movement alive!


I am the Flock-Tender here on  I am keeping a chronicle of my experiences learning, living, and growing a homegrown lifestyle fresh out of college.

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6 Responses to “HOMEGROWN Life: Am I Doing This Right?”

  1. I grew up on a farm just like you. I learned to can helping out my grandmother and mother. But then we moved to the city and the next generation was born. I too have wondered if what I do is enough or making a difference. But after having various younger family members become really interested in my canning, I think I am making a small inroad into teaching the next generation about living better.

  2. Anne Malcolm Says:

    Times have changed for women: where “we” lived a home-grown lifestyle, there were/are a handful of us who put fantastic feasts on the table; or where one of us had a talent and provided individually another would give of her specialty…and even our men chipped in to help.

    As a present day family member who still benefits from this old-fashioned life-style, the thought of doing this all by myself is daunting.

    It seems to me that people who want to begin today, who are perhaps separated from a support system or live in cities, etc., perhaps what need to happen is to begin some sort of community kitchen. For example, at farm-markets or within local community bulletins, have a post-board that lists names of people who are willing to share hospitality, experience/or lack of “know-how” and time. Perhaps something like this:

    “On Sat 8/1/11 the Smiths are making cherry pies/canning tomatoes/ / /. Bring your produce/pans/jars/ etc.

    Even if there are only 2 or 3 working together, many hands make lighter work and friendship grows. Even shopping could be shared.

    “Girls and boys come out to play…[ ]….you bring the milk and I’ll bring the flour and we’ll have pudding in half an hour.”

  3. Anne Malcolm Says:

    Local churches would be a good resource, if home kitchens are impractical, even if part of an agreement would be for users to chip in a donation for cost of electricity/water, etc.

  4. You’re doing everything right, don’t fret. It took me years of finding my path, an amenable housing situation, and a partner who appreciated what I was trying to do and was willing to help. There will always be false starts and dead ends, but the knowledge and friendships you acquire along the way will always be there with you. Just the fact that you’re thinking about this lifestyle, trying to buy local, and supporting your area farmers puts you far beyond what most folks can/will do in their lives. Kudos and best of luck on your journey.

  5. I appreciate your post. I’m a bit older than you and did not grow up homegrown, but am also slowly taking steps to become more and more self sufficient with my family and to teach my kiddos the same. Just engaging in the conversation and taking the small steps towards change and showing others it can be done is amazing work. Give yourself a pat on the back for the work you are doing 🙂

  6. I’m excited and inspired by your post. I think many people are in a similar situation, and I hope you/we can encourage them to do the best we can. It seems to me that one of the hurdles to adopting a trying-to-be-homegrown lifestyle is the thought that we have to completely change everything at once. For me, I started with eating as locally and sustainably as possible, because it seemed to me to be the most personally pressing issue. As I improve there, I’m also exploring other big changes, like household products and clothing.
    Keep up the excellent work, and keep us posted on your journey.

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