You know that old saying “Self sufficient is as self sufficient does.” Ok, not really old but a new take on Gumpisms.

How can we be “self sufficient” on only 1/10 of an acre (if an acre is $1.00 we are growing our groceries on 10 cents)? Yeah, pretty amazing, huh?

Although we grow 99% of our fruits and veggies, we still are in need of the basic staples. As I say in our short film Homegrown Revolutionwe are directly and indirectly self sufficient” The surplus veggies, herbs, honey, fruit, eggs that we sell go to buy staples that we need like flour, grains and oil (Check at “Eating Down the List“). In essence ,we are living off the land here on our tiny plot in the city. Both the majority of our food and sustenance comes from just under 4,000 sq ft of garden. We are city farmers that care for and tend to this patch of earth.

One reader had a question:

I would really be interested in your blogging on your blog about how your family manages the homestead finances. How the bills are paid, if there are any; do all of you get a paycheck for your own personal spending; what is the cost for all of your seeds; do you keep your sales of your produce separate from your honey; etc. I, myself, would like to be more self-sufficient and I am just interested in how you manage. Thank you for your consideration in this question – CW

Good question!

Our front porch farm stand keeps our till full of bills. Thanks to extensive energy and water conservation practices our utility bills are quite low

We prefer to pay cash for groceries that we don’t grow.

We work for our food, so no we don’t actually get a paycheck but we do get paid in the most amazing tasting produce on this planet (ok, so I am a little biased).

Justin is chief financial officer and does a good job at keeping track of all the business expenditures. As for personal spending, each spends at his/her own will and discretion. Not that we need much “personal stuff” because we are pretty simple folks (Justin has only TWO pairs of shoes – boot and utility sandal); but what we do like to spend our money on are things for the urban homestead and sometimes we do get carried away!

I wrote a lengthy post a few years back answering a reader’s question about our family budget (if you follow each hyperlink there are certainly some gems written in this here blog !)

Check it out at

Urban Pioneering Lifestyle

The post’s ending sums our lifestyle up the best : “”We are happy!”


  1. Anita says:

    Your family is to be admired and emulated. While I cannot do everything your homestead does, I certainly do more because of your website and blog. I cannot thank you enough.

  2. kelli says:

    truly an inspiration!

  3. Wayne says:

    When I read you post (especially this one and others where you account for your harvests) I can’t help but think of Walden. I’m sure you get that comparison a bunch. I just happen to be re-reading it now, as I take my baby steps toward self sufficiency. “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.” how great is that quote?!

    • Anais says:

      @Wayne: Yes tis a great quote, thanks for sharing and reminding us what’s really important.

    • CE says:

      @Wayne, I think that quote sums it up nicely. The difference between being frugal and being cheap is the attitude. Ironically being frugal is all about giving of oneself and being cheap is all about holding on for oneself. The words seem similar but are really a universe apart.

  4. Ginger says:

    I was so excited to find your blog! I too live in CA. Our community is starting a community garden. It will be off the ground in Nov. I’m on the committee,we are in the designing stages of the community garden as we speak. The city is going to donate the water, the cost of the garden is going to be about $30.00 a month. I can’t wait to start growing our own veggies and fruits.I live in Corona and we have to much shade in our yard to grow vegetables so this is a blessing. I have only had flowers and shrubs in my garden, so I have no idea on what to plant come Nov. I will have to see what seeds you offer. Yes indeed it has been hot the last few days. My windows are open now and the breeze is wonderful.

  5. Susan says:

    I’m curious about staples for the home….toilet paper, shampoo, toothpaste,
    soap, detergent? Do you make your own, buy, etc.? What is the monthly costs of these items. I know for my family of 6 that these alone are more
    than food almost!!! 🙂

    • Anais says:

      @Susan: For toilet paper we belong to a food co-operative and order toilet paper in bulk 48 rolls. We make our own bar soap and some of us don’t even use shampoo, instead are using the “no shampoo” treatment with very good success. We wrote a little about the no-poo here
      Toothpaste – baking soda is good.

      • Christa says:

        @Anais, I’m a few days behind, but I think your note about using baking soda for toothpaste really highlights the way things have become. 50 years ago, they didn’t really even MAKE toothpaste as a separate product. People used baking soda or salt or whatever. today, people can’t hardly fathom not using “Toothpaste” bought from the store. macaroni and cheese, a staple in many homes with young children “must” come from a box–making your own is inconceivable to probably 90% of families. How far we’ve descended in just a few decades.

Post a comment