What is a Homestead exactly?
The legal definition is: A person’s permanent home or property that includes the land on which the home stands on and other adjoining building or property.
My simple definition is: Living independently (as much as possible) by doing for self.
Growing up in the islands, we had a homestead that included sugar cane fields, lots of livestock, coffee beans, cocoa bushes (chocolate), coconut trees, mango trees, green banana trees and so many fruits you didn’t know which one to eat first. We never heard of one person starving to death because food literally seemed to grow EVERYWHERE. One morning you’d wake up and go in your backyard and see calaloo (African Water Spinach)
growing out of nowhere.
We’d pick a few things for breakfast while my father, brother and uncles ventured to the marketplace for fresh fish. My aunts, a professional candy maker and a seamstress, began their day at 5 am hurrying to meet their deadlines. My one uncle rendered lard and tallow to sell it to local candlemakers and soap shops.
Being little, my mother assigned me with the task of picking eggs from our dozens upon dozens of chickens. We sold fresh eggs and freshly de-feathered and de-boned chicken to “city folks” with almost no yard at all. After school, we’d watch my aunt cook down sugar cane til molasses was formed. Then she’d make taffy and pull it herself! Her biceps were huge and I felt sorry for the poor soul who picked a fight with her.
I loved our homestead.
I loved our simple yet comfortable, happy yet tough farm life.
Coming to America, however, proved to be a challenge to duplicate that life. Astronomical taxes EVERYWHERE. Realtors claiming that certain places in which we chose to live were “unavailable”. Cold climate that killed our crops by November and ZERO sense of community. Gone was the “I’ll watch him til you come back from the market.” An “Every man for himself” attitude was replaced and it left me feeling uneasy and isolated.
Keeping this blog and reading all your letters and comments, proved to me that the desire for a homestead is not lost…we just don’t know how to begin doing it again. Make no mistake about it. Homesteads are not and cannot work for those that are:
Getting your hands DIRTY and working ALL DAY are the norm. So is going to bed early and rising early. What does that mean? No more:
Late night partying
Staying up late to watch TV, porn, surfing the net, talking til 3 am
Consistency and dedication is the key to making it work. But how do you do it? And how do you “Do for Self” in a tiny apartment? Or on a tiny patch of grass jammed up next to another neighbour?
- Learn a skill. I cannot stress this enough. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with sewing since childhood. I used to watch the countless hours my aunt bend over her tiny machine turning bits of shapeless fabric into stunning dresses for weddings and preppy school uniforms. My task was to help her cut the cloth. I hated it. I wanted to run and play at the beach and learn to spear fish with the boys. I went back to sewing a few years ago after a bad experience shopping where I was followed throughout the store. Now I make my own dresses, nightgowns, robes, shirts, pants and oven mittens! Sewing is surprising easy but requires A LOT of patience and hard work. If I can make my own clothes, anyone can.
2. Make your own laundry detergent and fabric softener and SAVE HUNDREDS! Washing clothes is a must so this will keep some money in your pockets. I will share my own simple recipe for fabric softener:
A. A large pot of hot, boiling water
B. One cup of baking soda
C. One cup of vinegar
D. Essential oil of your choice
Add baking soda and vinegar SLOWLY into the hot water. It will bubble like a volcano. Stir til fully mixed. Add a teaspoon of your favourite essential oil and let cool. Transfer to a jug with a tight lid. A 1/2 cup of this mixture per load will soften your clothes and smell fantastic. AND it’s natural and will not aggravate allergies.
Do this for all your household needs and save. Vinegar and Lemon juice make excellent cleansers and will save you money.
3. Grow your own food ANYWHERE you can. Last year at the farmer’s markets, I sold planter after planter of herb gardens from my own seeds and roots. I added a bit of basil here, peppermint there, a dash of oregano, a smithering of lavender til it was full. My customers ate it up and loved the fact that the planters were tiny enough to put on their kitchen windowsill. Do you live in an apartment with a fire escape? Then this is what you need:
It is possible to have fresh vegetables and herbs in a tiny apartment complex.
For those of you that live in a house with a yard, you have ZERO excuses why you’re not feeding your spirit, mind and body with fresh food. Is your yard too small to grow a lot of food? Look what this person did along his fence:
4. Have a source of income. YOUR WAY.
This is the most adaptable yet the most difficult. Why? Not many people know what to do or do not have the funds to make it work.
My one friend sold all the excess “junk” in her basement and used the money to “get serious” (her words). Can you bake? Maybe you have great carpenter skills? Look at what this man did:
He picked up old pallets off the street and turned it into pretty and functional furniture. FOR FREE. I can attest that this type of look sells extremely well at craft fairs and people will pay top dollar for a custom piece.
Use your imagination and PRODUCE something. That way you are in control of your finances.
5. Organize with other blacks who WANT THE SAME THINGS AS YOU DO.
No point in trying to convince someone to Do For Self if they are more interested in TV, sex and alcohol. Leave them alone and seek others that will SHARE your passion for building. This is the most difficult task in my opinion. Blacks are severely brainwashed and terrified of being left up to themselves and just the mention of “Hey, let’s put on our own craft market with just black vendors” will have them running for the door.
Last year, a woman who seemed awake proved to be snoringly asleep and I was left heartbroken. I wanted to do so much with her and it didn’t work out once I claimed, “Absolutely no whites. Just us and just us alone.” I moped around the house for weeks then snapped out of it. Now I’m searching for another partner.
This is where we fail time and time again.
This is where others take advantage of us time and time again.
This is where we need to work HARDER and HARDER til we get it right.
The bottom line is: Other races see themselves as a collective and blacks see themselves as individuals.
It is this individualism that is killing us.
This tiny list is just a STARTER for your homestead.
By putting these ideas into motion, not just saying you will but actually doing it, you will regain some power and control in a system that seeks to control you.
And finally, for the readers that email me to ask me “Where do I begin? How do I do this?” Or chastise me for living on farmland while they are in a tiny apartment…
Your situation does not make you.
You make your situation.
I personally know jewelry makers and seamstresses in Brooklyn that make their creations in their kitchens on a tiny dining table. I know a chef that learned to make great tasting food in a kitchen so small it had only 2 burners. A Jamaican pastry maker makes her best dish, Grater Cake, in her NYC apartment when her children are asleep so she can focus without distraction. I make my clothes on a tiny 3 x 4 folding table in my small living room.
If you really want it, you’ll find a way.
Please pass this on to as many blacks as possible and begin today.