“Homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. It is characterized by subsistence agriculture, home preservation of foodstuffs, and it may or may not also involve the small scale production of textiles, clothing, and craftwork for household use or sale.” from Wikipedia.org.
These days, there is a strong return to the idea of turning your home into a homestead. Especially in the Bay Area. We’ve been seeing this trend in several of our projects for clients over last couple of years: the calling people are having back toward authenticity. Back to the land, in one form or another.
If you’ve tried it, you know. Food you’ve grown tastes so much better. Even a pot of tomatoes in the backyard can give us so much pleasure and satisfaction; in the immediacy of the freshly picked fruit, the burst of sun-warmed juice down our chins.
We are animals; yet we are surrounded by technology, driven to consume, chasing after the wants of the ego.
Our soul longs for connection with nature.
(Which is why nature is often an inspiration in the design work that I do, bringing our connection to nature back through how we create our interiors.)
Of course, we can all go outside.
Plant tomatoes, a lemon tree, a pot of herbs. In containers, in rough hewn or architecturally-elegant raised beds, in the ground.
These gorgeous garden boxes filled with edibles were designed, built, and planted for our clients’ outdoor space by Landscape Architect Suzanne Arca. Click here to see more images of her design-build creations at suzannearcadesign.com.
I have a potted lemon tree, and a kitchen-garden pot with a few herbs. That’s all I have time for. And it’s more than enough to give me a feeling, flavor my cooking, evoke memories.
The time I traveled to southern France for a cooking class with Jean-Pierre Moulet. He sent me out to the garden to clip some sprigs of thyme; and in that moment, I decided; I am always going to grow thyme in an herb pot.
Time and thyme.
Every time I send the kids out to snip some thyme from the pot for soup, I remember.
And once you’ve mastered the herb pot, there’s bees.
You can host a box of honey bees. A hive to nurture your garden. Hire a beekeeper to tend them if you don’t have that want. Or you may find yourself moved to get more hands-on.
Our neighbor Alan Beales, whose in-laws live in a house in Piedmont where we all gather together to watch the 4th of July parade from every year, is an Oakland Hills homesteader. He sells his “Hillbilly Honey” on a street corner during the parade.
He introduced us to a “bee guy” to help us get set up and gave us our first swarm.
As neighbors and friends, we do the work together and we share the results of our labors.
Alan inspired my husband Scott to become a beekeeper. We had our second harvest a few weeks ago. Less than a gallon. And so satisfying.
My honey bottling up our honey harvest.
Currently, we are up to four hives.
One of our clients recently purchased an acre-and-a-half in the Oakland Hills. He was originally thinking of moving to Sonoma. We are working with him to create, to amplify, his connection to nature: home grown, hand-made, authentic; with gardens and an orchard; places to go outside and be with nature, read a book, take a walk.
Of course, my clients are not all wrangling bees or kneeling in the dirt, planting seedlings. What we all do share is a feeling of pleasure in a California casual style, while also tasteful, classic, and timeless.
So, whether or not you might fancy yourself a farmer, consider putting herbs in a pot on the front porch, on the balcony outside your apartment. See if you notice more bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds coming around. And how that makes you feel.
Even these tiny doses, like small sips of nectar, bring in the energy that feeds our souls.
A version of this article originally appeared in the Piedmont Post