The interest in homesteading has grown over the past few years. In areas like Vermont, upstate New York, and more, families have been growing more self-reliant. Specifically, they are producing and consuming items they grow or make on their own land. Although many New Jersey residents live within close quarters of their neighbors, the idea of homesteading continues to take root.
There are many types of homesteaders. For example, some grow their own vegetables while others raise animals that produce food; meanwhile, there are some who build not only their own furniture and décor, but even their own tools.
The Garden State is home to many homesteaders leading by example. Whether you’d like to learn about growing your own food or building your own utensils, these NJ experts can help. We spoke to four families about what they’re doing to put together some homesteading ideas for beginners.
Farm-to-Table Dinners and Workshops at Dutch Hill Homestead, Marlboro
Ally and Rob Dwyer of Dutch Hill Homestead host workshops and dinner parties on their two-acre homestead. Since purchasing their property, the two have combined their passions into a chance to connect with their community.
They started out in an apartment in Red Bank with a garden on the roof, hosting elaborate dinner parties; afterward, the couple wanted a home where they could grow a bit more. Now, with a large garden, plus chickens and goats, they expect to be more self-reliant than ever.
Dutch Hill Homestead offers workshops that bring in local talent as well as producers for private dinner parties. These nights feature farm-to-table ingredients, plus game and fish that Rob hunts. Though they both work full time, Ally and Rob’s homestead is a gathering place for those curious about the lifestyle. Moreover, it’s a place to learn and experience a taste of said lifestyle first hand.
For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/dutchhillhomestead/.
Soaps, Lotions, and Honey at Oak Hill Farms, Middletown
The Bushey family didn’t always live on their own little homestead. Instead, Carla and her husband Rich had stressful jobs in the culinary and construction industries. But after Rich’s heart attack in 2012, the pair took it as a sign to change their lifestyle. They bought a home in Middletown, and soon after added chickens, goats, and beehives.
Now, as a family of five, the Busheys enjoy eating fresh eggs, raw honey, and goods from their garden. However, they’re doing more than just eating well; Carla and her family also bring a healthy spin to skincare. Their unique soaps, lotions, lip balms, and more include honey from Rich’s hives; not to mention tincture oils made from their own herbs, and goat milk.
Customers go crazy over products like the Oat, Milk, and Honey Cracked Hand Cream. Then there’s the Gardener Gift Set, which will keep anyone who loves to be outdoors smooth and smelling delicious. The Bushey family also offer a number of Natural-Artisan goat milk soaps, balms, soy wax candles, and more.
For more information, visit https://oakhillfarmsnj.com/.
Hand-made Wooden Utensils at Farm & Hand, Harding Twp.
Near the start of 2016, Nicolas and Casey Esposito chose to raise their kids on the land. After buying a four-acre property, they began working toward a sustainable lifestyle. With 2.5 acres of growing area, the family of four is learning how to make their new life work.
By nurturing fruit and nut trees, perennials, native plants, and animals, the Farm & Hand homestead provides the Esposito family with plenty of opportunities to live off the land. In addition, Nicolas has a small woodworking studio on the property where he shapes cooking spoons and bowls. Concurrently, the couple is in the process of developing botanical dye from the flowers on the property.
Despite how much they are learning, Nicolas says they’re still just scratching the surface. As they perfect the craft of handmade and sustainable products, they’re finding another part of the homestead journey equally enjoyable; watching their kids both develop homesteading skills and fall in love with the lifestyle. Four acres aside, Nicolas makes a point that anyone can take part in a homestead lifestyle. In fact, he emphasizes that it’s not about the size of land, it’s about passion and commitment.
For more information visit https://www.farmandhand.com/.
Organic Produce at Llama Mama Good Farm, Morganville
Linda and Wayne Masters purchased their property over 30 years ago. Farmers, and steadfast believers in living off the land, Linda and Wayne pass this same mentality on to their children. With that in mind, Llama Mama Good Farm is a family business with a focus on healthy, organic food.
Their daughter, Victoria, knows the 10 acres of land her family lives on provides her with a healthy lifestyle. Now a mom herself, she recalls how over seven years ago, one of her mom’s friends was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. The Masters began to show her how to grow vegetables, providing plenty for her to juice. After seeing just how great their friend felt, they had an idea; to create donation baskets for those with cancer and autoimmune diseases.
Soon after, as part of a local CSA, they began offering $40 produce baskets to anyone. However, what makes their basket unique and even more nutritious is their dedication to giving back to the soil. Particularly, the mix of llama manure, cover cropping, and compost results in a rich, dark soil that adds even more nutrients to their vegetables.
For more information visit http://llamamamagoodfarm.com/.
Hero (Top) Feature Image: © Dutch Hill Homestead
Additional Images (in Order) Courtesy:
Dutch Hill Homestead
Oak Hill Farms
Llama Mama Good Farm