Thursday, February 13, 2014

Homesteading in Suburbia

Stephanie Rukowicz

While browsing the gardening section at the Central Library, I stumbled on a book titled Homestead Year: Back to the Land in Suburbia, by Judith Moffett. Published in 1995, the author writes about her year-long experiment homesteading in Rose Valley Borough, Delaware County, PA.

Like many gardeners living in an urban environment, I’ve often dreamed of life on a bigger plot and being able to live off the land. Reading about someone else’s experience attempting the dream locally makes it that much more of a real possibility--inching closer to “one day,” and further from “not going to happen.”

Moffett, at the time an assistant professor at Penn, had been putting off her experiment in hopes of finding a plot of farmland, but ultimately decides to make the best of the land she is already on in the Philadelphia suburb of Rose Valley. Taking a year sabbatical from work, Moffett grows vegetables and fruits, becomes a beekeeper, establishes a pond on her property, and purchases fish and ducklings to add to her homestead.

Although not a how-to text like others that share its library shelf, the book does contain useful information for anyone considering expanding their garden to include bees, ducks, or fish. Overall I found it an entertaining read, and a reminder of why detailed garden documentation is important.

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