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Programming for Urban Homesteaders

by on October 24, 2013

Sustainability and living locally are hot topics these days. Part of that trend involves doing it yourself and eating food grown in your area. Take these topics one step farther, and you have urban homesteading (if you’re not familiar with the term, think a backyard farm in the city). Whether the library provides programs or just materials on the topic, it’s a great place for people to come and learn more!

Many cities allow certain animals to be raised in  backyards. People all over have started raising chickens, goats, and rabbits, just to name a few. Bringing in a local expert to discuss the ins and outs of raising various livestock, and the regulations around those animals can be a great program. At our library, we noticed a large amount of books on raising chickens were coming through, so we had one of the staff who already raises chickens put together a program. We had a great turnout, and some wonderful discussion among the attendees. Another fascinating program was on beekeeping. A local beekeeper came and discussed ­­­what it takes to raise bees and the effects of the landscape on the honey. One of our more rural locations in the Pikes Peak Library District is starting a monthly program called Homestead on the Range with each month focusing on a different topic. The first session was on owning a farm with an hour presentation and time for question and answer. More sessions, like cob building, are planned in the coming months with hopes that a following will be built.

Gardening programs are another possibility, whether you want to discuss what kinds of plants work in your climate or how to get the best results with your vegetables. In Colorado Springs, we’ve had strong interest in programs on xeriscaping, so we had our local utility company come in to give presentations on low water plants and how to change your yard. Working with local garden clubs is another option. Some libraries have started collecting seeds for seed libraries, which were discussed in another post on Public Libraries Online.

Beyond growing and raising your own food, urban homesteading also involves making your own food. The Yolo County Public Library, Woodland, CA, has an entire lineup of programs listed as part of their Farm It! Darn It! program. New York Public Library has a lengthy blog post with information on a variety of topics that fall into this category, like canning and preserving or brewing. St. Louis Public Library put together a short, concise blurb, as well.

Working on programs and reading lists for urban homesteading can also provide you with great opportunities for partnerships with local organizations. Many cities have meetup groups, garden clubs, or perhaps you have local 4H organizations.In a world of smartphones, 3D printers, and wifi, sometimes it’s nice to get back to the basics. More and more people are focusing on maintaining a sustainable lifestyle, and the library can help to provide information for how to do just that.