Urban Homesteading Thing Catching On

I have a Google alert set up for the phrase “urban homestead”. Lately I’ve noticed more real estate and apartment listings using this phrase. Our neighbors Anne and Bill even used it to rent out their duplex. A rental listing that includes the photos in this post came from a real estate concern renting out an apartment in Edmonton, Canada. For $1,600 Canadian dollars a month you get:

  •  hot water on demand system. 
  • sunroom has a high efficiency wood burning fireplace that helps keep house warm and cozy in the winter.
  • fenced back yard is an urban oasis with three apple trees, three plum trees, eight choke cherry bushes, a grape vine, covered deck, and enclosed fire pit with a private seating area. A perennial flower garden lines the path to the front yard. Three rain barrels provide ample water for large vegetable and flower gardens.
  • get to know your neighbours at the nearby community hall and rink. The hall holds a variety of children, youth, and adult-focussed classes, programs, and events, such as free dog training; playgroups; skating, yoga, and dance classes; children’s Halloween and Christmas parties; community bbqs; collective kitchen; and more! 
  • trained dogs welcome; absolutely no cats.

Other than that last bit (Dogs but not cats? Someone please explain the logic.) I’m happy to see fruit trees, rain barrels and community activities listed as an asset. Maybe that common sense thing is catching on.

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  1. Sure hope the dervaes family doesn’t jump on them for using the term. After all, they set their business back a lot by doing something as stupid as copyrighting that term.

    As for the cats, I think a lot more people have cat allergies than dog allergies. They are probably looking at future tenets.

    Homesteading is cool now. Take a look at how many blogs are out there about homesteading. I even put up one, and the reason I found your blog was I was looking to read about other people’s homesteads. Why wouldn’t that be a selling point for apartment dwellers also?

    I think that people in general are starting to wake up. They are finally coming to the conclusion that each of us should produce at least some of our own food. After all, with the recession and what I believe to be a future world-wide depression it is a good thing to have as many producers as possible.

  2. “Dogs but not cats?” My guess is that people with well trained dogs are usually very attentive dog owners, and most people with dogs walk them outside to take care of their toileting needs. While most cat owners are also very attentive to their companion animals needs, many cats use an indoor litter box.

    It only takes one time for a landlord to have to deal with unaltered male cat spray for them to sour on the idea of tenants with cats. While I am not a landlord, I for many years was a rental tenant. More than once we found ourselves in an apartment that reeked of cat urine, despite being freshly painted. My best friends bought a house where one room had to have many coats of stain-kill block primer layered onto one room the smell was so bad (and this after the walls and floor were treated with enzymatic cleaners, might have been more cost effective to simply gut the room to the studs and joists) Don’t know if that is why this particular place has a rule of well-trained dogs okay, cats not okay, but in our renting years, we’d have been overjoyed to find an Urban Homestead that allowed dogs

  3. More and more cities are enforcing greywater plumbing laws and other water conservation strategies in homes and community. I think in L.A. any homes built or renovated will need to comply with the city’s new greywater plumbing laws.

    The folks in Occupy L.A. are using the humanure composting toilet system. Buckets are filled daily, local homesteaders collect the humanure and leave saw dust or other carbon cover materials for the buckets.

    People use to take a shit, now they are literally giving a shit. Urban homesteading is fast becoming the norm, thanks to you guys.

  4. I’m guessing they mean outdoor cats, not all cats in general. Trained dogs can be kept in a yard and indoor cats stay inside, but outdoor cats, however, tend to roam, and in a neighborhood with chickens and gardens, this could create some tension between neighbors.

  5. Unneutered male cats will “spray”. Mom had a cranky old female cat who did it too. Liked to go behind the door of her bedroom – how mom never noticed (but I digress). Also, cats will claw and shred flooring, blinds, screens, etc. Supposedly, well trained dogs will not do any of those things.

  6. I have never met anyone who did not claim their dog was well-trained, even as the dog ate sofa cushions or dragged the owner down into the street, necessitating a trip to the ER for a broken bone and facial destruction caused by asphalt. They blamed the squirrel the dog was chasing.

    The description was refreshing. I am saddened because the people who live in government housing, people I know, are not allowed to even plant a single tomato plant in their “flowerbed”.

    Another apartment complex with which I am very familiar in another city allowed people to plant little gardens. Then, because it was hard for the mowers, they disallowed personal plants. Besides, the whole place was not neat and uniform with odd plants around. It was hard to listen to the elderly who were sad that for the first time in their lives, they could not grow anything to eat and had no reason to be outside.

  7. Aside from cats marking their territory with urine, the other biggest problem . . . especially with “outdoor cats”, is they decimate native bird populations. That’s why I won’t own one. Perhaps the owners of the rental property, if they are truly passionate about being environmentally responsible, would agree.

    Erik, as an aside and if you have the time, could you take a moment and explain how one sets up a Google “urban homestead” alert?


  8. Once raising chickens in an urban environment was featured in Sunset Magazine, I knew urban farming had become mainstream. It’s a good thing for people to get in touch with nature and use their land for something other than a bigger house.

  9. I would imagine the “no cats” is, as pointed out by others, due to the cat spray. There isn’t really any way to get that smell completely out once it is in. If it gets on your carpet and you have to rip out the carpet and pad to get rid of it. I often think I would like to have a cat again until I remember the stink.

  10. Hey Max,

    Google alerts are handy–basically you set it up to get an email anytime google finds a new reference to, say “Root Simple”. There’s more info here: http://www.google.com/alerts. I would recommend using quotation marks, i.e. “urban homestead” so that you get an exact phrase search and don’t get too many results.

  11. Thanks Erik! You & Kelly teach me something nearly every week. In my own small part, I try to pass on some of the knowledge to friends and neighbors. On our small cul de sac of 8 homes, 3 of us now have backyard urban farms. My next goal is to petition the City of Santa Clarita to change their prohibition on backyard chickens (I have mine but haven’t been caught!).

  12. I suspect it’s outdoor cats only, so people don’t start finding “Tootsie Rolls” amongst their raised vegetable gardens. Indoor cats live longer and are healthier anyway, so unless someone is in a rural area and needs the rodent control, I think it’s best to keep them indoors, personally.

  13. I have to agree. Thanks Kelly and Erik. It was your book from the Silver Lake library that got my husband and I started (I now own both of your books).

    We now have 7 chickens, 6 planter boxes, berries, composter and vermiculture. I hope to add more fruit trees and microgreens this year and plan to look into bees.

    We live in Echo Park and have a neighborhood group that meets 3-4 times a year to work on cleaning our street, plant and work with the city when needed for repairs. It has helped make our block safer and more attractive.

    I check this site daily.

    Debbie Gale

  14. How great to see! Here’s hoping even more neighborhoods in the States catch on to this idea. I’d love to see rain barrels and fruit trees as the norm!
    But I’m with you–dogs but no cats? Strange.

  15. Cats are often excluded here in Australia in certain estates or communities because they kill local wildlife. Sometimes all pets in general are banned because of the effect of native birds etc.

    If we ever sell our house, we are aiming that the value would have gone up because it will be an urban homestead!

  16. Love it! Sounds like a listing I’d be looking for (if I were looking)..Minus the whole cat thing…we have too many animals to exclude any of them 😉

  17. hmm maybe this marketing strategy will work on the foreclosures in my urban neighborhood. I’ll gladly make up extra rain barrels … cats btw will be accepted.

  18. Maybe its the allergies? But I don’t think all cats should be forbidden, what about no male cats, or no outdoor cats? I mean come on.. I have a cat on my urban homestead she is indoor/outdoor.. she sleeps in my garden in the sun, has only dug 1 up once, is afraid of my chickens, and the local birds like to pick on her… she’s not a old cat mind you (she just turned 2) and is still VERY fast (you should see her excape efforts when my 3 yr old goes for her), so I think the no cats should not be set in stone… I have more problems with neighborhood dogs who think its fun to chase the hens, pee and poop in the yard, smell doggy (which I find gross), or dig a hole

  19. My guess is that it is nearly impossible to get rid of cat evidence in a house that wasn’t well kept (my brother had to replace floor and subfloor in the house they bought a few years ago, and rip out stained/smelly paneling, all due to cats), and still can be difficult to remove all dander from walls, ceilings, flooring, etc. when the house was kept fairly clean. Combine this with the common allergies people have to cats, and I think it’s a sensible restriction. I’ve seen lots of rental properties that don’t allow cats.

  20. I’m allergic to cats but not dogs. It’s gotten worse over the years and harder and harder to get cat dander out of the house to a point where I don’t require meds. I will never allow cats to live in my house again because of it. I also don’t go to stay at friends with cats anymore. Sorry cat people, I completely understand the request.

  21. Cat urine contains a chemical that will damage hard wood floors. I have even heard of it eroding tile grout.

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