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Urban homesteads on the rise amid the pandemic

Posted at 11:22 AM, Jul 31, 2020

More people are interested in growing their own food and living a more sustainable life. That can be for people living off the grid or for people living in large cities.

"We are 50 by 126 ft. in the neighborhood of Ruby Hill," said Sharona Thompson.

Less than five miles from downtown Denver, Colorado, nestled among standard city lots, sits Thompson’s urban homestead and the Ruby Hill Tiny Farm School.

"We grow tomatoes, squash. We’ve got pumpkins arching over, we’ve got chickens, we’ve got rabbits, we have bees, we have worms, and a cat that guards the whole school," said Thompson.

Every inch of her yard is planned out to be the most beneficial and sustainable. She has two 55-gallon rain barrels that she uses to water the plants, and she also captures rainwater from her roof.

"We have it go down the gutter, into this little piping system. That goes under the ground, the sidewalk, under this bed and comes out to the tomatoes over here," said Thompson.

Even the housing for her chickens has multiple uses. The coop catches rainwater which leads to a cherry tree. And, since the chickens are only 3-feet tall, she built a greenhouse on one side, allowing the chickens to roam underneath.

"With chickens, they give us eggs, but also they give us manure, and we can actually turn that manure into the soil and have more fertile soil," said Thompson.

Thompson has been growing on her lot since she moved in nine years ago. She says especially now with COVID-19, more and more people are planting on their own land. She says seeds and plants are hard to come by.

"That’s a good sign to me. Sometimes we need a crisis to kind of wake us up to be active and to really see where some of our vulnerabilities are," said Thompson.

She says while we’re not in a food emergency right now, she feels secure knowing she could live off her yield.

"If there was a food supply chain kink, for whatever reason, I know I can still go outside and get my food and know how to preserve it," said Thompson.

But there’s also a sense of pride in her tiny farm by doing something our ancestors did many generations ago.

"When I go out here, and I see the plants growing and changing from winter to the end of summer, I feel so satisfied on a deeper level that I know how to do this," said Thompson.

Through her tiny farm school, she teaches kids and adults how to start and build their own urban homestead.

"When I bring students here and they learn, it’s beautiful. They are like, 'I want to do something like this.' I’ve had several people say that they want to start schools too to share this information. It’s empowering," said Thompson.