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The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Urban Homesteading


The author homesteads in Denver with her chickens, goats, bees, and organic front yard garden.

By Sundari Elizabeth Kraft
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Alpha; Original edition (June 7, 2011)
(If there’s an “Idiot’s Guide”, we’ve come a long way! Mike)

A note from Sundari Elizabeth Kraft from her web site:

Last August I was approached by the editors from Penguin Publishing, who oversee “The Complete Idiot’s Guide” books. Despite their goofy-sounding titles, I’ve always been a fan of the Idiot’s Guides. I like the way they’re structured, and I feel like I’m getting comprehensive information when I read them.

The editors asked me if I would write the book, and what followed was a period that was both challenging and immensely rewarding.

I’m pretty proud of the result. The goal was to make the book accessible to beginners, but also provide a depth of information for those that have been homesteading for a while and want to expand their repertoire. Just to give you an idea of what’s inside, here is a listing of the book’s chapters:

Part 1: What It Means to Homestead in the City
Ch 1 – What is Urban Homesteading?
Ch 2 – City Considerations (lots of information about zoning, and how to change your zoning code)
Ch 3 – The Life of an Urban Homesteader

Part 2: City Farming
Ch 4 – Growing Without a Yard (container & rooftop gardening, sprouts, mushrooms, etc)
Ch 5 – Growing in Your Yard (bio-intensive growing*, succession planting, yard-to-garden conversion, etc)
Ch 6 – Growing on Someone Else’s Land (community gardens, land-share agreements, guerrilla gardening)
Ch 7 – Seed Starting in the City
Ch 8 – Keeping Your Garden Healthy
Ch 9 – Enjoying Your Bounty (harvesting, extending the harvest, sharing/selling)

*Appendix C contains a detailed plant information chart, sample garden map, and sample garden planning chart

Part 3: Raising Animals for Food
Ch 10 – Livestock in the City (zoning issues, barnyard basics, neighbors, fitting animal care into a busy life)
Ch 11 – Chickens Coming Home to Roost
Ch 12 – Getting Your (Dwarf) Goat
Ch 13 – Raising Rabbits
Ch 14 – Bee Busy
Ch 15 – Aquaponics: Raising Fish and Plants Together

Part 4: A Homemade Life in the City
Ch 16 – Small Batch Food Preserving (canning, fermenting, drying, root “cellaring,” etc)
Ch 17 – Preparing What You Harvest (cheese, yogurt, butter, stock, herb infusions, etc)
Ch 18 – The Finer Things (soap, shampoo, lotion, spinning yarn)
Ch 19 – Cleaning Your Home, Naturally (cupboard ingredients, recipes, etc)

Part 5: Making the Most of What You Have
Ch 20 – Energy-Wise Living (powering down, getting off grid, getting around town, etc)
Ch 21 – Water is Precious (conservation, rainwater harvesting, recycling water, etc)
Ch 22 – Turning Waste Into Gold (composting, worms, etc)
Ch 23 – Foraging in the City (fruit trees, wild plants, discarded items, etc)

Appendix A: Glossary
Appendix B: Resources
Appendix C: Garden Planning Guides

The book was enriched greatly by the wonderful people (almost all of them from Denver!) who gave me feedback on the chapters, and who are thanked in the acknowledgements. I also owe a huge debt of gratitude to the wonderful 2010 Heirloom Gardens urban farmers, who kept things going when I was working on the book.

Purchase the book here and see more about the author’s work.

1 comment

1 Adrienne Kraft { 08.24.11 at 6:46 am }

Although I have to acknowledge that this book was written by my daughter-in-law, I am still very discriminating in the books I recommend. That being said, I think that this book is so well written, in comprehensive but understandable language. It is filled with informative and practical information. Even for those who are not “homesteaders,” it provides useful tidbits for tasks we face in our daily lives. One of the best “how to” books I’ve ever used. It is a great reference book and fun to read.