How do I learn to homestead? Learn to garden? Learn to build things? Learn to raise animals? Learn to become more self sufficient? I get these questions quite often from people. Usually my question back is how do you personally learn? Every one of us is different and we all learn new skills by different methods. Some people learn by doing, some by seeing and hearing and some by reading. How a person learns will dictate what my response back to them is.
If you learn by doing, sign up for a class. Look at you cooperative extension, they are a wealth of knowledge and hold workshops on different subjects. Here are some programs offered by our local counties extension.
Get involved with the 4-H. As a child it seemed like everyone I knew was involved with 4-H, now as a adult, I know very few who are involved. The name represents four personal development areas of focus for the organization: head, heart, hands, and health. It is a youth organization with deep roots in this country and they are constantly looking for volunteers. Get involved, you might learn a few new things.
Volunteer for habitat for humanity. Founded in 1976 they have built over 300,000 homes for low income families by volunteers and sweat equity from the future homeowners. Give them a call and start swinging a hammer. Not only will you learn something, but you will be helping a worthy cause.
Stop and talk to the vendors at local farmers markets. With the push for sustainability in today’s uncertain times there are large networks growing of people wanting to spread some knowledge. Some of the larger farms will hold workshops on different subjects. Polyface Farms would be a great example of seeing and learning different topics on farming. Besides, you might just make a friend.
Visit the big box hardware stores such as Lowe’s and Home Depot. They hold classes usually every weekend on different topics from installing a window to building a staircase.
Contact your local adult Adult Continuing Education Program. It isn’t just for GEDS. They hold classes ranging from gardening to horseback riding. Here is a local spring course guide that includes a cooking class, bread making class and fly rod building class.
Contact the American Horticulture Society. They offer a 40 plus hour training class on horticulture to work towards a Master Gardener Certification.
Looking for a specific type of construction method? Pick up a book on it and contact the author. They will usually hold workshops on the subject matter and if they don’t they can put you in touch with someone who does. You can find classes on log cabins, cob, cordwood, strawbale, earthbag, earthships, etc…
Every journey starts with a single step and just the desire to be self-sufficient is enough to start. Plant a patio garden if you live in the city, take a canning class or buy a dehydrator and start making your own jerky. My biggest recommendation is make a priority list of three things you want to learn. Prioritize them A, B and C. Work on learning everything you can on A and once you are comfortable move on to B and then C. Don’t try and learn everything at once because it can become overwhelming very easily and freeze someone into inaction. Remember being self-sufficient is more about a state of mind then location and is a constant learning process and I personally spend several hours a day reading and researching trying to improve my skill sets. No one has ever been sent to jail for killing a tomato plant so like Nike says get out there and Just do it.