Homesteading is the dream for many people. I know we’ve always been curious – simple living, self-sufficiency, a greener lifestyle.
Wikipedia defines it as a lifestyle of self-sufficiency, characterized by subsistence agriculture, home preservation of food, and . . . the small scale production of textiles, clothing, and craftwork for household use or sale. This didn’t clarify much. We wanted to learn more – the ups and downs, the dos and don’ts, and most of all, how to start. So we called our friend Chantel Johnson, of Off Grid In Color. She describes the homestead as the foundation of living: the way back to nature, a point of reference, and the source of wisdom. In our interview with Chantel, she explains her homesteading journey as taking control of her basic needs and monitoring her health and environment. Her mission is to lead others to greater self-sufficiency through farm raised food, birth coaching, and community outreach. She shares with us some of the challenges she faced as a homesteader, the importance of community, and tips on how to get started on your own homesteading journey.
1. Tell us about yourself. How long have you been living off-grid and homesteading? What inspired you to become a homesteader?
I’m a city gal gone country! I’ve been homesteading and living off-grid-ish for about two years. I say off-grid-ish because in my current setup the water supply is provided by a well using traditional power. There were previous places where I was 100% self-sufficient.
“I WAS DEPRESSED, UNHAPPY”
I was born and raised in Chicago. I overcame barriers that many poor and people of color face in under-served and under-resourced communities. After high school, I won a scholarship to Carleton College, one of the best liberal arts schools in the country. It was there I discovered the educational gap between the “rich and poor,” as well as the surface level impacts of racism and sexism. But that did not stop me from persevering and graduating with honors. Unsure of my next move, I spent two years serving in AmeriCorps. Later I obtained my masters degree in social work from the University of Washington.
In 2014, prior to my graduation, my youngest brother was shot several times in Chicago. It rocked my world. Later that year I decided to move to North Carolina where I got a job working for a research company. I hated it, but I did not understand why. I did all the “right things” – what I thought society expected of me. I “made it” out of the hood. I went to school, worked hard, acquired two degrees, and landed a decent job. For what? I was depressed, unhappy.
In August of 2015, my brother died from the complications of his shooting. That was the last straw. I began considering the influences that played into my brother’s death – such as lack of quality jobs, the closing of schools, and poor access to nutritious foods. It was well known that my brother was involved in gang and drug activity, but that lifestyle becomes an easy choice when your basic needs are not met in your community. This is a common occurrence in many poor black and brown communities.
“…THE EARTH PROVIDES EVERYTHING WE NEED TO THRIVE! THE SUN RISES FOR LIGHT AND ENERGY. THE RAIN PROVIDES WATER. THE SOIL IS OUR SOURCE TO GROW FOOD”
My journey as a homesteader came from a desire to take control of my basic needs. To free myself from the influences of the government and corporations. This gave me the power to monitor my health and environment.
You see, the earth provides everything we need to thrive! The sun rises for light and energy. The rain provides water. The soil is our source to grow food.
2. Tell us about your homestead.
My homestead is a sanctuary for health and wellness. I follow basic minimalism principles and simple living practices. My home is a tiny house on wheels and I own very little material things. The homestead is a place where a person can come heal, rejuvenate, and nurture their body, mind, and soul. I facilitate this by providing natural farm-raised goods, holistic doula services, and meaningful community outreach.
“MY HOME IS A TINY HOUSE ON WHEELS AND I OWN VERY LITTLE MATERIAL THINGS”
I primarily raise pigs! I just love these creatures, their eyes are so human-like. They are very large, but sweet and friendly. My pigs are raised in the woods where they have plenty space to roam. They are rotated every month to a new plot of land where they have access to new bugs and greenery. A few times a year I raise chickens for meat. During the holidays I raise turkeys. I also have a small flock of egg layers. All my poultry are pasture-raised with plenty space, and rotated often. The animals are all given non-GMO feed, love, and hugs… when they let me! I invite you to come out and visit!
By: Chantel Johnson