Why be a Wild Homesteader? Rewilding Your Homestead for a Better Life
Let’s be honest, wild homesteading is hard work. Between work, kids, and the day-to-day responsibilities of modern life, there’s a lot to keep up on. Besides, with all the problems facing our world right now, can one person really make a difference? Rewilding your homestead is a beautiful and fulfilling vocation that can change your world—and your life. Keep reading to see why you should be a wild homesteader.
If traditional homesteading was about going out and “taming the wilderness,” wild homesteading means bringing the wild back.
And at the heart of it, wild homesteading is about life.
It’s about cultivating an abundance of life for people, plants, and animals.
We’re all connected, and one of the joys of being a wild homesteader is knowing that what’s good for us on this journey is also good for the immense diversity of living creatures that surround us.
Keep reading to see how you can reawaken your own life while cultivating abundance for the life around you. But before you scroll down, be sure to get your free and easy-to-print cheat sheet with 5 steps you can take now to start rewilding your homestead.
Rewilding your Homestead For Life.
It starts with a diversity of plant life.
Plants are such an ordinary part of this world that it’s easy to forget how unbelievable they really are.
With every breath, plants perform the most astounding of everyday miracles—transforming the warmth of the sun and the air that they breath into the life-giving energy that powers all the life on earth.
An abundant diversity of plants supports an abundant diversity of larger, more complex forms of life on your wild homestead.
Native plants provide even more benefits to your homestead, helping to sustain many more types of critters in your local ecosystem than non-native plants could do.
When you heal your landscape with a diverse abundance of native plants, you make the sun’s energy available to more and more complex layers of life, from insects to birds and other wildlife, and even large predators.
By rewilding your homestead, you can also harness water. You can capture it and slow it down, rather than letting it rush off along the quickest path to the sea.
Slowing down water is essential in our changing climate where, when it rains, it pours. It’s more important than ever to help our landscapes moderate the extremes of downpour and drought.
Harnessing water not only benefits your garden plants—it nourishes all the layers of life on your wild homestead.
Unfortunately, too often our society is moving in the opposite direction.
Native landscapes are excavated and painted over with a canvass of grass and non-native ornamentals.
Natural waterways are channeled underground, while the new, thirsty plant life demands water to be transported in from elsewhere to keep it happy.
Local insects can’t find food in this new landscape, and their populations plummet. Less insects equals less birds, less pollinators, and less wildlife as a whole.
It’s a scary situation. Really—this has to stop.
By rewilding your homestead, you can create a pocket sanctuary where native plants and wildlife can thrive in abundance.
The life on your wild homestead ultimately becomes a part of a balanced ecosystem that helps keep garden pests in check.
And the trees and plants on your wild homestead also help clean the air, turning CO2 into fresh oxygen and biomass.
This means fresh air for you and your family, and it’s also part of a broader climate solution.
Planting a few trees might seem like a drop in the bucket in the context of global climate change, but in fact global tree planting is coming to be recognized as the cheapest, most effective way to keep our planet livable.
Rewilding your homestead supports life at all levels of complexity—locally, and globally.
Wholesome, Delicious Food – The Cornerstone of Wild Homesteading
Growing delicious, healthy food for your household is the backbone of wild homesteading.
Nothing beats the crunch of snap peas fresh off the vine, or a candy-sweet bite of wild strawberries.
The taste and quality of homegrown, organic, garden-fresh produce is so far beyond their supermarket counterparts that it’s often hard to trace any resemblance at all.
It’s easy to use a light hand in the kitchen and let the taste of mild, sweet veggies and herbs speak for themselves.
Rewilding your homestead lets you grow more food with less work, by working with nature.
Essentially, you’re letting nature take over some of the effort.
The rewards are immense.
When I’ve got a meal to prep, I love heading outside with a knife and a cutting board, harvesting something fresh, and chopping it up in the open air while my little boy forages fresh berries and vegetables.
Sheer nourishment for our family, right in our backyard.
And the food you grow on your wild homestead doesn’t just taste good—it’s good for the mind, body, and spirit.
Plenty of research draws the link between processed foods and a plethora of health ailments ranging from heart disease to diabetes, cancer and depression.
Grocery stores freely carry produce treated with pesticides linked to developmental disorders, a reminder of the toxicity that many people in the US and elsewhere simply take for granted.
These toxic pesticides have ramifications for consumers, farm workers, and the people who live downstream.
But the food on a wild homestead is pure, wholesome goodness.
When you’re rewilding your homestead, there’s no question of any contaminants in the mix, sickening workers, contaminating drinking water, or harming your children. You can sleep well at night.
The more you rewild your homestead, the less time, money and energy it takes to reap the benefits.
And when you practice chop-and-drop mulching, you leverage nature’s capacity for regeneration to nourish your household again and again.
Rewilding Your Homestead For A Natural Life
With natural spaces shrinking, screen time overwhelming our attention spans, and long work hours confining us to sitting for long periods of time, it can seem like every aspect of our society works to sever our connection to nature.
But we’re a part of nature. In fact, we are nature! And the forced disconnect is alienating and painful—physically, emotionally, culturally.
You can heal the human-nature divide by building a natural life.
A natural life is a life in the open air, where you can soak up the calming and exhilarating experience of nature at your doorstep and live out your day alongside the wild creatures that share your home.
Rewilding your homestead for Children
A childhood in nature is a childhood of wonder.
Whether for your own child or grandchild, or for other little ones in your life, rewilding your homestead is a way to offer children a gift that is growing more and more precious every day—the gift of wonder, adventure, and discovery.
Children are born adventurers—innately driven to explore, test their limits, and make discoveries.
The natural world forms the perfect backdrop for this exploration—it’s perfectly attuned to calm the mind, challenge the body, and inspire the spirit.
But wild spaces are disappearing, and a whole generation is growing up indoors.
The result is a generation marked by difficulties with balance, coordination, and a host of sensory and cognitive challenges.
Want to learn more about the importance of nature for children’s physical, social, and sensory development?
Occupational therapist Angela Hanscomb’s informed and accessible book, Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children.
As a wild homesteader, you can carve out a different path for the children in your life.
I literally taught my son Arden to walk on the rugged terrain of our wild homestead.
Now, at 2 ½ years old, he delights in embracing new challenges, tromping confidently across the uneven landscape, striding along the balancing logs in his natural play area, and leaping competently from taller and taller stumps and logs.
Instead of sitting behind a screen, my son’s days are spent making discoveries. I’ve had to learn how to step back and let his own curiosity take the lead.
I love watching him gather different material like stones, leaves, or feathers and plunk them into a puddle to see what happens, occasionally pausing the action to let an ant crawl across his fingertips.
And I love how his whole face comes to life at each fresh experience—the glimmer of sap against the sunlight, or the rhythmic rapping of a woodpecker.
The body is our vessel for experiencing the world. The mind is our instrument to interpret it. A capable body and a creative, curious mind are perhaps the most precious gifts we can offer a child.
Children aren’t the only ones that need nature.
We know this, but for many of us, the patterns of our homes and lives align us to a lifestyle where “outside” is a place you only go for a specific purpose. The default living space is indoors.
Building a natural life means transforming these patterns and creating outdoor spaces that heal the human-nature divide.
The very act of rewilding your homestead is part of a natural life.
The rhythmic, repetitive process of shoveling mulch or setting plants in the ground has you outside, carrying out the subsistence work of your life alongside the wildlife that share your space.
But you can also create spaces that let you thrive in the open air. Spaces where you can sip coffee, share a meal, or carry out chores in the company of songbirds and wildflowers.
Spaces to simply be.
Our front door opens up to a nature trail lined with red-flowering currant and osoberry bushes as well as young native trees like cascara and shore pine. Sword ferns, lupins, and wild strawberries reach across the ground.
When your rewilding your homestead, you can transform natural areas into outdoor living spaces by placing stumps or other outdoor seating along a trail or in a quiet, peaceful place.
Songbirds call out from the bushes. The scent of fresh wood chips rises from the earth, mingled with the aromas of rich, earthy soil.
It’s a place of healing.
My young daughter had colic as a newborn, and I spent many a long evening strolling the grounds with her to soothe her tormented cries. I think we both derived some comfort there during that difficult time.
More and more research shows what many of us recognize intuitively—that spending time in nature is good for you.
As Florence Williams has documented so beautifully in her book, The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative, even a few minutes in nature makes us feel better. And the benefits to our mind, body, and spirit just go up from there.
It can lower your blood pressure and slow your heart rate. It soothes anger, relieves stress, and makes us more cooperative. It can even boost your immune system!
We’re a part of nature. We belong here.
As a wild homesteader, you can live out this reality every day.
Wild Homesteading: A Backyard Revolution
In a time when climate breakdown and wildlife loss threaten the living systems that sustain us, wild homesteaders all over the world are waging a quiet revolution and reclaiming ground for mother earth—restoring habitat, building soil, and planting trees.
Wild homesteaders are carving alternate paths away from the toxic food system that causes so much harm to people, plants and animals, and cultivating wholesome abundance instead.
Instead of turning to consumer culture to numb the malaise of modern living, wild homesteaders are building a natural life and finding peace, joy, and vitality in the wild world around them.
Rewilding your homestead is a beautiful way to promote life, cultivate healthy food, and come alive amidst wild abundance. It will change your world—and your life.
What do you love most about being a wild homesteader?
Leave a comment with your answer! And before you go, be sure to grab your easy-to-print cheat sheet that offers 5 steps you can take to rewild your homestead.