Homesteading requires a large time commitment and is not for everyone. You should make sure that your partner/spouse is completely on board before making any major commitments.
One of the biggest benefits is a property-tax exemption. This is usually limited to a portion of the property’s assessed value and can help to reduce your tax burden.
MURPHYSBORO — We sit down to a bite to eat at our favorite fast food place and unwrap a burger with a beef patty from a cow in a field we never saw, topped with veggies we did not pick, seasoned with some odd 11 herbs and spices we cannot really taste. There is a disconnect between us and our food, and Illinois Extension is trying to do something about it.
A free flower and herb growing class will be held in Murphysboro on June 15, at 5:30 p.m. The class is part of the Homesteading series put on by the Illinois Extension, which, provides public outreach for the University of Illinois by taking science out of the lab and bringing it into the lives of the community.
The class will be held at the Jackson County Extension office, located at 402 Ava Rd., Murphysboro, IL, 62966. Register by calling (618) 687-1727, or by visiting go.illinois.edu/HomesteadingFlowersHerbs.
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“Whether you live in the third story of an apartment or on a 10-acre plot of land, homesteading skills can help bring you and your family closer to the food you eat,” the Illinois Extension website stated about its Homesteading series. “Collecting eggs, tending the garden, canning, drying herbs – all these things and so much more can help you in your everyday life to become more connected to your food, family, and community.”
The Illinois Extension will be offering programs every month throughout 2023 on modern homesteading practices. June will feature Horticulture Educator Chris Lueking, who will be a guest speaker for the evening event on herbs and flowers. Lueking educates about gardening, and she also grows and sells her own flowers at farmers’ markets and puts together wedding flower bouquets.
“Cut flowers and herbs are great additions to in-town gardeners as well, as they can be used in the landscape and garden to attract pollinators,” said Maggie Ray, a coordinator of the modern homesteading series, who hopes that they bring people together more by reconnecting them to their own food. “As a bonus, you will always have a nice fresh bouquet on your table or to share with family and friends.”
During the program, participants will learn the ins and outs of cutting flowers, growing herbs, bed preparation, fertilizing, managing weeds, herb and flower varieties, and companion planting, among other useful gardening and homesteading information.
“The reasons why we homestead are to make healthier choices, to live better for the environment,” said County Extension Director Lynn Heins, who has been working on the program behind the scenes for the past year.
Heins said that, because homestead food is sourced locally – oftentimes just outside your backdoor – there is a smaller carbon footprint to get the food to the table, and that with each passing generation, people become more and more removed from their food source; so homesteading is one way to combat the disconnect. Economically, homesteading strengthens local food markets, creating a more robust economy.
Though local extension offices have been providing homesteading programing for decades, offering the old information in a new and fresh packaging really resonates with the present generation of homesteaders, Heins said.
The Homesteading series is a multifaceted approach, not only because it connects people to their food source, but also because doing so has positive economic, environmental, and health implications, said Heins.
“We’ve had an outstanding response,” Heins said. “This validates that the need is so strong right now, because people are seeking to save money, to live better for the environment, and to make healthier choices.”
If you have always wanted to learn how to homestead, these completely free and public workshops are just the thing for you to reconnect with what makes you alive, your food.
To get a glimpse into what is coming up for the rest of the year in the homesteading series, go to www.illinois.edu/ModernHomesteading.