Living a self-sustainable lifestyle does not mean you have to have 139,674, 987 acres somewhere in the middle of nowhere! Off-grid, self-sustainable living can happen no matter where we are. In fact, I believe that self-sufficient living has more to do with our mind-set rather than our surroundings. Let me explain what I mean here…Last winter, I spent the weekend at the home of a Missouri farmer. He and his wife spent countless hours that weekend giving me reasons as to why sustainable farming and off-grid living is a thing of the past. They were surrounded with 140 acres and not a lick of it produced a thing for them.
On the other side of the coin, I’ve met plenty of people who live sustainable, off-grid lives using what they have; and sometimes that means they only have a balcony or a 1/10 acre lot.
The greatest obstacle our family has to being self-sustainable is money. Like many others, we have bills to pay and a land payment to make. Even when we are debt free, there will still be property taxes and general up-keep costs. Although the whole point of self-sufficiency has to do with a reduction in consumption, reality is we’ll always need some type of income. So how does one make money living an off-grid, self-sustainable life? Begin immediately by: • Reducing living expenses • Consume less commercially prepared products • Minimize possessions • Reduce your living space This can be accomplished through a variety of means. Perhaps by turning off the TV, rethink those items that you now consider “necessities,” sell everything that you haven’t used in a year or more, and/or by downsizing your living space. By doing these few things, you will save yourself a ton of money in multiple areas (i.e. utility costs, heating, cleaning, cooling). Then begin generating income by:
1.Follow your interests and do what you love – Before you do anything else, do what you love and the provision will follow. Steve Jobs said that he would look in the mirror every morning and ask, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today? And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
2.Eat from your garden and sell the rest – Utilize every square inch of your property for production. Focus on planting perennials that come back year after year and require little care (i.e. nuts, fruits, berries, etc.). Gather provisions for your family and sell the rest for profit. Consider joining a CSA as a producer or selling at a farmer’s market.
3.Raise and sell animals – Even in our small suburban lot, my daughters are raising heritage breed rabbits and selling them on craigslist and/or to local farm supply stores as pets.
5.Start a Farm School – This you can do with acreage or even in an urban/suburban setting. Open your home to teaching people the old ways of doing things. There has been a huge gap in knowledge. Wisdom that was once commonly passed down from generation to generation has in many ways been lost. People are eager for a rebirth of traditional know-how.
6.Turn your crafty skills into a profitable business – Make candles, soaps, lotions, homemade/repurposed clothing. This list is endless and has everything to do with number 1…doing what you love.
7.Write – Begin chronicling your interests. Use social media to your advantage (smile).Create a blog (Blogger, Word Press, Tumblr, etc.) Start a hubpage. Become a member of StumbledUpon. I promise, someone will find your thoughts valuable.
8.Farm Vacation Destination – If you are one of the fortunate ones to own a small or large farm, consider opening a portion of it up as a vacation destination! Creating ways to decrease our consumption and increase production is the only method useful in moving toward independence. Self-sustainable living is all about reducing our dependence on someone else to supply our needs. Consider what it is that makes you come alive. Stop limiting yourself. Go for it! Share with us where are you in the journey?
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