Apartment Homesteading Creating Landless Urban Farms

3-27-09 balcony gardenApartment homesteading is the newest addition to the food security and sustainability movement of recent times.  It allows apartment dwellers to farm in an urban landscape without land or in other words creates balconies full of “landless urban farms.”

These “landless urban farms” consist of animal, insect, and plant life in a sustainable format.  The typical apartment homestead includes an assortment of crops such as tomatoes, corn, potatoes peppers, and squash to name just a few on the normal scale.  Some individuals have taken this concept a step farther and have started growing more nontraditional crops such as hops and tea on the balcony.

Animals and insects also grow on the “landless urban farm.”  These include chickens and/or rabbits and bees.  And while one may think that this small menagerie of animals would not produce much foodstuff a beehive with 2 supers alone can produce 350 pounds of honey in a season.

But where does the future apartment homesteader start.  The process begins just like any other gardening project that is by analyzing the gardening space and your own personal needs and/or likes.  Most balconies are small extensions of one’s living space so utilizing every square inch to its maximum is very important.  Planters and/or containers are a great way of starting out.  Outdora provides many examples of planters that would be perfect for the apartment homesteader.  These include planters of different heights and shapes along with lighted ones for security such as GardenGlo Solar and GardenGlo Fluorescent.

Also the vertical space on a balcony is an unutilized space that the apartment homesteader can capitalize on.  Hanging baskets, grow bags, and decorative hooks can add a stylish element to vertical farming while creating a growing surface for cucumbers, beans and peas.

Animals on a balcony take a little more work and investigation.  Raising chickens inside some city limits are allowed so check your particular city code.  Recently this has become an issue and city officials have had a change of heart as far as what was once defined as a “farm animal.”  Detroit, Michigan has allowed chickens within the city limits for years while Louisville, Kentucky just recently changed their city ordnance to allow homeowners to raise 3 chickens. Also before one brings bees on to their balcony make sure the neighbors are not allergic to bee stings.  If this is a problem bees can be purchased that naturally do not have stingers.  So the apartment dweller can have their vegetables, fruits, eggs, and honey too.

But remember before starting your “landless urban farm” to check with the landlord and read your apartment lease.  There is nothing more discouraging than to learn that you cannot farm on the balcony but a lot of these principles can be used inside the apartment so not all is lost.

Regardless of where you might live everyone can “farm.”  Apartment homesteading is just one avenue that one can take toward insuring food security and sustainability.  So while you are exploring your “farming” choices check out what Outdora offers the modern day farmer.


Mindy McIntosh-Shetter has been an Agricultural Science educator, and is a horticulture and/or environmental blogger who earned a degree from Purdue University in Agriculture Education with a minor in biology, and natural resources.  Presently she is finishing up her Masters in Environmental Education and Urban Planning for the University of Louisville while working on her own agriculture/environmental blog.

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