2014 Spring Sustainability Efforts

Each year I update you all on what we're doing to make our little homestead in the city a more sustainable, self-sufficient place. Because we've made quite a bit of headway in late 2013 and early 2014, I thought it would be a good learning experience for other urban homesteaders to see what we've accomplished and where we plan to grow.

First, take a look at what our goals were for 2013 and 2012 {and the progress we've made in RED}:

Our 2013 Sustainability Efforts:
  • Get more rain barrels! We completed this: Check it out.
  • Continue cooking mostly outdoors on our grill or over our fire pit. One thing I would like to try is making my own brick oven. We do cook on our grill a ton, even in the winter. We have not made a brick oven in the backyard. Yet.
  • Continue to cut our electric and natural gas consumption at home. Our electric service is still set to Time-of-Day billing, where we only pay a 40% rate for energy we use during off-peak hours (9 p.m. to 7 a.m.) and on weekends. I need to look up stats for this ASAP! I know we've been conscious of our energy consumption, so I'm sure we've had some major savings. 
  • I continue to carpool three days a week with two co-workers. I no longer work 50 minutes away from my home! I do carpool to blogging events and family functions out of town.
  • Triple the area of our garden. We doubled it last year.
Our summer 2012 Sustainability Efforts
  • Look into blown-in insulation for the walls of our house. It will cost about $700, and might be a priority in 2014.
  • Begin experimenting with making bio-diesel fuel. John still hasn't done this, although he'd love to. He's been traveling a lot.
  • I want to add a compost bin. DONE! I scored a deal on Craigslist and I'm a composting fool!
  • I want to add three more raised beds of the same size. Done in 2013.
Ok. Now that you know what's on the table, and what we strove to accomplish (or put on the back burner) for the past two years, here are some of our new goals:

Our 2014 Sustainability Goals

  • Add expansive edible landscaping in the front yard. Think: small berry bushes, herbs, and container gardening.
  • Landscape an entertainment area in the backyard using repurposed materials we currently have. If possible, add a brick oven to this area.  
  • Landscape around the chicken coop and run in the backyard using repurposed materials. 
  • Put up more garden produce in 2014, including learning to pressure can.
  • Sell surplus garden produce, and possibly eggs. Find a niche in our area.
  • Completely install the cast iron woodstove in John's garage before winter.
  • Find and install an alternative heat source for the house before winter (pellet stove, wood stove, etc.).
What are some of your sustainability, self-sufficiency goals for 2014? 


  1. I would TOTALLY buy produce and eggs from you! I have had a terrible time finding the little "roadside stand" type of produce purchasing I so loved in Wisconsin. I always have to wait around for the farmers market :(

  2. I am interested in knowing what type of berry bushes you plan to plant in your front yard besides blueberry? I have not done well well with my blueberry bushes yet. Need acid soil and I must not have it even though I have added coffee grounds. Nancy


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