2013 Homesteaders of the Year

August 17, 2013 by  
Filed under Solar Energy Tips

Best thing about running a homestead: It is a place to call your own and be proud.

What percentage of your own food do you produce? We go to the market to buy fresh milk and produce during the off-season. It has varied over the years from 10 to 60 percent.

Favorite thing to cook: Potatas Curv. It is a Swedish meatloaf made with pork sausage, potatoes and onions all ground up together and baked in the oven. I also have a great recipe for barbecue pork tenderloin made with Kansas City barbecue sauce.

Where did you learn homesteading skills? This family goes back 14 generations, and homesteading skills have been handed down throughout the years.

Danielle Figel (Winner)

Age: 32

City/State: Jersey Shore, NJ

How many acres do you have? Less than one acre

How long have you been homesteading? It found me at an early age. A life-long outdoor enthusiast, I have developed moderate homesteading practices since childhood, but did not know back then that there was a name for it. The pressures of being a teenager in high school and college made me lose track of how important self-sufficiency is to me and how important it is for the soul to connect with nature on a regular basis. However, within the past several years, I began to once again gravitate back to my passion for nature and living a simpler life. I have chosen to grab hold of this “good” way of life once again.

What is your definition of a homestead/homesteader? The overall concept of “homesteading” is different for many and quite often debated. This appreciation for simple living and growing my own food is what I personally consider the definition of modern homesteading. It has given back to me much more than I could have ever imagined — a sense of peace and happiness I could not have attained doing anything else. Through my submersion into homesteading I have already learned so much about living the simpler life and feeling even somewhat richer than those with expensive material possessions and luxuries that most Americans are convinced they need. Homesteading to me means living a more sustainable life and also sharing the excitement of the rewards of a simpler lifestyle with others, not to convince them to do the same, but to give them a glimpse of how fulfilling even small steps to self-sufficiency can be. Homesteading to me means living the way we were intended to live, living simply and humbly, and living in tune with nature, not against it.

Do you have animals or crops or both? How many of each? Please name some of the animals you raise and/or crops you grow. With less than an acre of property to utilize, I have fresh food growing everywhere there is ample sun and workable soil. I live in New Jersey, which is also called the “garden state,” so I take full advantage of our rich but sandy soil by growing an array of produce. Because I have such a small amount of gardening space, I practice the method of intensive vegetable gardening. Intensive gardening includes raised garden beds, wide and multiple rows of crops that are closely spaced, vertical trellising, companion planting and succession cropping. An intensive garden provides more food with less space. Intensive gardening requires thought out planning for the best use of garden space. Some crops I am growing this year include the following: beets, three varieties of lettuce grown in rows, swiss chard in between lettuce rows, celery, sweet onions, basil, oregano, cucumber, snap peas, three different varieties of carrots, green and red bell peppers, banana peppers, several varieties of tomatoes, corn, horseradish, spaghetti squash, zucchini, crookneck squash, Yukon gold potatoes, red Pontiac potato plants, sweet potatoes, strawberry plants, blueberries and black raspberries.

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