They grow crops like melons or tomatoes at homesteads of varying sizes.
Or raise livestock, like goats.
All of these trends have made food less consistently available or more expensive.
Homesteading is a lifestyle, and sometimes involves land. But anyone, from people with black thumbs to people with apartments without room for chickens, can pick up a few practices, four practitioners told Insider.
Here are a couple of beginner homesteader tricks you can start yourself.
Meet Ciearra Evans, who specializes in cost-effective gardening, known as “The Thrifted Planter” homestead online.
She says that the most important step to saving money while homesteading is: not spending too much on the startup materials you need.
It’s pretty easy to go crazy at Lowe’s and buy everything full-price, she said.
“You can’t help it. In the summertime, when you walk into the greenhouse or a garden center, and there’s so much to look at…your cart is full before you know it,” she joked
Seeds in particular are easy to over-buy, she said, because they’re cheap and colorful.
So, one should first figure out a plan for what you want to grow and research what materials you need, Evans said.
People love to jump into a crop because it looks cool (like this zebra tomato, which is striped even when it’s ripe). “Pick a few things you and your family like to eat,” Evans advised.
Once you know what you want, you can even skip the store and save seeds from grocery store-bought food — essentially, anything with a seed, advised Evans.
Also, add a type of flower for pollinators to your plan. Evans suggests zinnias because they’re easy to grow and easy for pollinators to reach.
You plan should also include how you plan to nurse your seeds and what containers or equipment you’ll use to grow, from building beds to lights.
Go to Dollar General or similarly low-priced stores for things like pots, trellises, and seeds, she advised.
You can also repurpose things cheaply to work in the garden.
Evans said she grew the tomato plants in bottom right with felt bags she got for a few dollars each on Amazon.
She said she bought grow-lights for her seedlings on clearance from Walmart and uses the app Honey to alert her to price drops for items she needs to garden.
To save on soil, she buys it in bulk when it goes on clearance in August and September, the end of the growing season in her area. Here’s her big shop from last year:
She ought the bags of soil and fertilizer on clearance for about $2.50 each, Evans said.
Evans said the bags now cost $14 each (and were just $12 a pop before they went on clearance).
That’s me with my haul,” she said.
Evans is feeding a family of six and estimated growing her food saved her family about $100 a month at the grocery store in the beginning.
But it varies. Another homesteader, Alliyah Perry of The Green Gardens Homestead in Washington, told Insider previously she saved about $3,000 last year on groceries for her family. “There was a few months in the summer… where we just did not got to the grocery store at all.” she said.
Aside from money, growing your own food just feels better, Evans said.
“I do like to have things in the cabinet we’ve grown ourselves, and you know where it comes from.. There’s a lot of pride in that,” she said.
Research aside, some crops are known to be easy for beginners or people without a lot of space.
Tomatoes are the classic homesteader’s first crop, said Nivek Anderson Brown of Leaf and Bean Farm.
It’s because they’re pretty easy. “You can put [them] in the ground, walk away, and you can get some fruit,” Brown said.
Tomatoes also take well to bucket or container gardening, advised Cidni, the homesteader in East Texas.
She and her husband started growing tomatoes in containers when they lived in apartments.
You can get buckets for cheap at Lowe’s and drill holes, Cidni said.
A few plants can produce many tomatoes, especially in bright sunlight. Just make sure to water them early in the morning or at night, so they don’t scorch, Cidni advised.
But even beginner tomatoes can get out of hand. Last year, Evans didn’t prune or “top” her tomato plants, so they just grew like crazy. Optimal pruning methods vary—but just don’t forget to do it, or your garden might look like this..
It might sound intimidating, but chickens can be an easy thing to start with, too, noted Brown of Leaf and Bean.
If you only have a little bit of space, you can get two birds, she said. They can live in a dog kennel or even a baby pen.
They’re also cheap. Brown said in her area a feed bag that last several months costs about $14.
Compare this, she added, to buying eggs every week amidst inflation and avian flu. Prices have gone up sharply in the last two months, but she estimated it’s cheaper even in normal times.