Homesteading History and Vocabulary

The definition of homesteading usually refers to a "pioneer" individual or family trying to live off the land and create a home for themselves in the wilderness.


Historically, those settlers who first inhabited non-European lands or areas without the society and culture they were used to were called homesteaders.

homesteading history and vocabulary

They became self-reliant out of necessity as pioneers in a new wilderness.

In the United States, the settlement process began at Jamestown and spread westward with the Homestead Act. This was an old law and tradition in US that said the settlers who could remain on land long enough could claim it as their own.

Are You a Homesteader?

There are modern homesteaders who are extreme, living off the grid and raising all of their own food. I say anyone who makes any effort at being self-reliant can claim the title.

Homesteading Vocabulary

Here are some related concepts and terms that you will see used frequently by urban homesteaders.

Back-to-the-land movement
People fleeing city life and trying to reconnect to a self-sufficient lifestyle, most popular in the 1960s and 1970s
A holistic agricultural system that considers the balance of nature, based on the research of Rudolph Steiner
Dividing up the meat from a whole animal to cut it into smaller pieces
Off the grid
Unhooked from the electric company and living on your own power production
Organic standards
The term "organic" has been claimed by the USDA and can only be used on items meeting their standards, even though the defined standards are not ideal
A sustainable system of agriculture designed to last for many years, usually involving trees and perennial plants that synergistically benefit each other

Learn More

There are some excellent videos and books available if you want to learn more about the modern homestead and urban farming.

Personally, my favorite one is Countryside & Small Stock Journal. I love the ideas people write in to share and learning about what others are doing.

urban homesteading skills
self-reliant mindset
rocket stove
homeschool education

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