Going off grid and starting an homestead in Arkansas is very popular, especially in the Ozark region. Long growing seasons, plentiful rainfall, and lots of solar power potential, and plenty of low cost land make this state a great choice for the homesteader. I’ve gathered all the info you need to know about homesteading in Arkansas.
Arkansas Homesteading Laws
When many people think of homesteading in America, they think of the law that existed in the 18th century that provided free land from the government so long as a family lived and worked the land. There is no homestead act currently in force that allows for free land in Arkansas.
There are still opportunities to find free land in the United States if you know where to look —
Legality of Homesteading in Arkansas
You may wonder, is living homesteading in the sense of living self sufficiently legal in Arkansas?
There is no specific law preventing an individual from making their own way in Arkansas. In general, self production of food and electricity in the United States in considered a protective right —
However, there are a litany of local building codes, zoning laws, nuisance ordinances, and miscellaneous land contract obligations that may restrict your ability to live the way that you want. This is true for any state, but Arkansas is a 3 out of 10 on my Freedom Index. See:
Off Grid Energy In Arkansas
Arkansas has access to a good amount of solar energy, averaging about 5 Wh/day for every watt of array potential you have. That means a 1kW array would produce about 5 kWh on average throughout the year.
Note that you can’t plan an off grid solar system around yearly averages. If you are considering an off grid solar system, read my free complete guide to designing your own low cost system —
Wind power potential in Arkansas is fairly low on average, with 80m wind speed averages around 4.5 m/s in most of the state. While wind power might be viable in particular windy locations, it probably isn’t your go to power source for most of the state.
Note that this map shows average wind speed at 80m, about 250 ft, above the ground. Ground wind speeds vary considerably due to terrain, the tops of hills or valleys that act as wind tunnels usually being better. Be sure to measure the wind at any particular property before you commit to installing wind power at that location.
Water Considerations on a Arkansas Homestead
Arkansas is a wetter than most sates, receiving on average 50.5" per year. Rain occurs most months of the year, making rainwater collection very attractive, and reduces or eliminates the need for irrigation when growing a homestead garden and subsistence crops.
Rainwater Harvesting in Arkansas
With an average 50.5" per year, every 100 sqft of horizontal roof space would produce 3,148 gallons of water collected, ignoring any losses due to evaporation or first flush systems.
Rainwater harvesting is legal in Arkansas with minor restrictions. The State of Arkansas allows for rainwater harvesting with some minor restrictions. According to Arkansas Code Annotated § 17-38-201 (2014), the State Board of Health “shall allow the use of a harvested rainwater system used for a non-potable purpose if the harvested rainwater system is: (1) designed by a professional engineer licensed in Arkansas; (2) is designed with appropriate cross-connection safeguards; and (3) complies with Arkansas Plumbing Code.”
For more info on rainwater collection —
- Off Grid Rainwater Collection - Complete How To Guide
- Estimate How Much Rainwater You Can Collect the Easy Way
Deep Water Wells
While Arkansas has plentiful surface water, most homesteads use a deep water well as their primary water supply.
According to USGS aggregated well data, Arkansas groundwater depths can vary from less that 20 ft to more than 300 ft deep from region to region. With drilling costs between $25 to $65 per foot, costs of acquiring and pumping deep water well should be researched on a property by property basis before committing to deep water well in Arkansas.
Growing Food in Arkansas
Arkansas has a long growing season, extending from February to November when choosing appropriate plant varieties. Summer temperatures are hot and humid, with August highs in the low 90s, but not too hot to prevent growing summer crops.
More information on growing plants in Arkansas on the Arkansas extension website.
Arkansas spans USDA hardiness zones 6b to 8a, with the hottest weather and longest growing seasons in the southern portion of the state. These zones are quite productive and capable of growing a wide variety of produce.
The Koppen climate designation for Arkansas is Cfa, Humid Subtropical.
Overall, Arkansas has great growing potential and is suitable for self-sufficient agriculture
Living in the Ozarks
The relatively rugged land in the Ozark region in the northwest of the state are particularly popular for homesteaders. The lands around Fayetteville have been a hub for homesteaders since the original back to the land movement in the 70s.
The geography of the Arkansas Ozarks is primarily heavily forested low rolling mountains and hills. The land is plentiful with streams, and small waterways. As well as being known for abundant underground springs and streams.
Since land here is not flat enough to be bought up by commercial agricultural interests, there is plenty of relatively cheap yet fruitful land available here.
Be aware that some parcels here do not have road access. So due you due diligence before committing to a particular piece of property.
Resources for finding land in the Ozarks —
Resources for New Arkansas Homesteaders
Here are some people that I’ve found who are homesteaders in Arkansas with an online presence.
- Arkansas Homsteader YouTube — a YouTube channel by an Arkansas homesteader
- German Shepard Ranch — a YouTube channel by an Arkansas homesteader
- Sniping Rhino Ranch — a YouTube channel by an Arkansas homesteader
Can you live off grid in Arkansas?
Yes, living off the grid is both practically and legally possible in Arkansas. All regions of Arkansas have great solar energy access. Water is plentiful. Many areas have affordable productive land available. Homesteading in the Ozark mountain region in NW Arkansas is particularly popular.
Is homesteading legal in Arkansas?
There is no law against homesteading in Arkansas, although there may be specific laws regulating particular homesteading activities such as raising livestock or using water for agriculture in particular regions. Rainwater collection and off grid solar energy are legal in Arkansas.