Homesteading Classes and Hands-On Homestead Courses
I’ve talked to a lot of homesteaders over the years – being extremely interested in the back to the land movement myself – and I’ve heard a lot of different opinions on what it means to homestead. In that time there is one thing I have NEVER heard: Homesteading is easy. But don’t be discouraged. With a bit of help from people who know how to live off the land, you can avoid many of the pitfalls and greatly improve your chances of success.
The first thing you should probably know is that most homesteaders have a second income. Maybe they work “in town” or telecommute, or perhaps they have their own business, such as selling honey or hand-made soaps. Even hardcore legends like the Nearings had supplemental income selling syrup and books. One way to bring in some extra cash, which we’ll talk about in an upcoming article, is to offer farmstay style cabin or cottage rentals.
Another way some homesteaders help pay the bills is to give classes on homesteading, which is – without further digression – the point of this article. Below is a list of some homestead families who provide individual homesteading courses, along with a bit of information about each to help you make a decision.
Six Schools With Homesteading Classes
Homesteading Heritage Center for Essential Education (Texas)
This “school of homesteading” offers a complete curriculum for sustainable living skills from their model four-acre homestead located within their larger 510 acre working farm. Located in Elm Mott, Texas, they offer single day classes covering specific topics like owning a family goat, the family cow (course pictured above) and beekeeping, as well as multi-day classes like their three-day homesteading course that covers everything from gardening and dairy animals to fencing and water supply. Single-day classes are about $75-$85 and multi-day homesteading courses are $155 – $250. Accommodation is not provided. Homestead Heritage is part of the Educational Ministry of Heritage Ministries, which is a Christian community dedicated to preserving and nurturing those principles and values and applying them with new understanding to the present and future, to create a viable continuity from one generation to the next. Although we found no evidence of “preachiness” from literature and descriptions of their homestead courses, this might be something for those of other faiths to think about before making their selection of a homesteading school.
Apple Family Farm (Indiana)
For three generations, the Apple Family Farm Store has been providing a glimpse into the past for city folk traveling east of Indianapolis. Although the information is difficult to find on their website (find it here), they do offers homesteading classes, which aim to teach beginning farmers how to avoid the many pitfalls that could lead to failure, disappointment and discouragement during the first few years of homesteading and hobby farming. They offer hands-on training on one, two and three day classes on subjects like owning a dairy cow, goats, keeping chickens, grazing, butchering, logging, soap making and even marketing and bookkeeping for your own country farm store.
Muller’s Lane Farm (Illinois)
Another Christian-based family farm offering classes on homesteading, the Muller’s teach visitors everything from driving a draft horse to soap making and canning. They chose to include these classes at the requests of visitors participating in their farm tours. We couldn’t find much in the way of prices on their website so you’ll just have to contact them and ask. Muller’s Lane Farm is located in Rock Falls, IL.
The Institute of Urban Homesteading (California)
Taking a different twist on homesteading classes, this school in Oakland, CA understands that not everyone who is interested in living a simpler, healthier life can live out in the country. Urban Homesteading is a growing phenomenon similar to the movement in which people living in city neighborhoods and suburbs are turning their small sub-acre plots into thriving vegetable gardens and small urban homesteads capable of providing enough food to feed their entire family. A classic example of success in urban homesteading is the Dervaes family’s Path to Freedom project. You can learn how to do what they’re doing by taking an urban homesteading class in Oakland.
Pioneer School of Homesteading (Michigan)
The Quaker Hill Farm is another Christian-based (Quakers) farm that offers homesteading classes to the public. Located in Harrisville, MI, the farm offers courses for about $75 each on topics like beekeeping, breadmaking, growing and using medicinal herbs, raising poultry, basic homesteading skills and many others. And who better to learn how to homestead from than the Quakers?
Self-Reliance Resources (North Carolina)
If you are unable to travel or take time off work for a hands-on homesteading class, you may want to check out some of the ebooks, free downloads and audiotapes offered by Kathleen Lamont of Back to Basics and Self-Reliance Resources. Kathleen also offers single-day, $40 homesteading classes from her farm in Western North Carolina. My wife and I just got back from vacation in that area and, let me tell you, it is BEAUTIFUL!
We probably won’t be updating this post, but if you have a farm or homestead and offer courses, please tell our readers about it by commenting below. And here is another resource you might want to know about if you offer any kind of agritourism.