Building Your Own Self Sufficient Homstead

How to Live Off Grid: A Checklist for Self Sufficiency

March 10, 2020

Daniel Mark Schwartz Profile Picture

Many people ask me, what does it take to go off grid and live self sufficiently. So, today I decided to sit down and write everything you need to get started off grid, along with a checklist.

How do you go off grid? Here is your off grid checklist:

  1. Work toward living debt free
  2. Learn useful skills
  3. Find Off Grid Land
  4. Develop a water source
  5. Construct an off grid house, tiny home, cabin, cob house, or yurt
  6. Set up appropriate waste management
  7. Plan for free heating / cooling
  8. Install solar, micro-hydro, or wind power
  9. Plant your garden / food forest
  10. Bring in chickens and other livestock
  11. Build up your winter food supply
  12. Develop community

Going of grid isn’t necessarily difficult, but there can be a lot to think about when you are getting started. There are probably a few things, that you haven’t thought about before, which you need to get right in order to get stated living off grid. Let me help you avoid simple mistakes that most beginners make.

Step by Step Guide to Going Off Grid

In order to help everyone get started moving off the grid, I wrote out a free checklist of everything you need to think about and accomplish to successfully get back to the land and live self-sufficiently:

Preparing to Move Off Grid

The first three steps of this process of moving off grid start right where you are now. Making the move takes planning, preparation, and personal growth to meet the challenges ahead.

First, consider money. While there are ways to go off grid with no money, going debt free and accumulating a bit of cash makes the process a whole lot easier. Start by adding up how much you spend and figuring out ways to start saving and pay off your debt. There are always ways to cut expenses and save money. And, downsizing is often a good first step to going off grid.

Next, while you are still on-grid, take time to learn vital skills that you may be lacking. Check out free resources on this site, Youtube, or books that teach you how to:

  • Store or prepare food
  • Build or maintain a home
  • Forage and hunt

Lastly, start the land search. Finding good off grid property can be tricky, but there are a lot of great opportunities out there if you know where and how to look. Most of the best land is not listed in your local real estate agent’s MLS or an Zillow!

Planning Your Off Grid Homestead

Once you have the land, and are ready to get started in earnest, the real fun begins. This is the most critical part of going off grid, as it can be easy to make silly mistakes in the beginning when planing everything out. However, not planning at all is the biggest mistake, and almost always leads to hardship or heartache.

Water. Water is probably the most import place to start developing your homestead. Good water sources can be costly, and take time to install. Yet, hauling in water is a drag and can be a huge expense. Taking the time to plan out water usage and get going with a proper redundant, low cost system is essential to succeeding off grid.

Housing. Choosing the right living arrangement is pivotal to your success. There many key decisions here that can make life off grid much more pleasant (more on this below in Step 5). With many ways of living outside the box, a proper off grid home can be a real asset rather than the ball and chain that traditional homes with mortgages usually become. Owner built home, tiny home, RV, cabin, cob house, natural building, or yurt are all options you should consider.

Waste Management. Septic systems can be expensive and not fun. Modern homesteading alternatives such as Humanure, biogas can turn your waste in to an asset. Likewise, grey water systems turn drain water in to food. Choose the right system for you while staying within the law.

Heating and Cooling. Use the resources you have on site as much as possible to lower the cost and time commitment of heating and cooling your off grid home. Wood is usually a good choice, with good insulation and low cost yet efficient wood stove options like rocket mass stoves or masonry ovens. Passive solar and earth based cooling is also a huge asset to an efficient and comfortable off grid home

Power Generation. We are in the age of cheap and abundant off grid power. Choose the proper sizing correctly, and learn when to invest in better appliances vs more power. Often efficiency and creative system design can save thousands on your off grid solar or micro hydro system

Root Cellar for Self Sufficient Food Storage

Sustaining and Growing on Your Homestead

Now that you have utilities and systems in place, the next step is to build up your food supply and storage facilities.

Start by planning and planting your garden, fields, or food forest. Building up good soil is priority number one, followed by claiming garden space and laying down systems for irrigation. Then you will be ready to start scheduling your planting and harvesting. With subsistence farming it is essential to optimize your planting so that you have fresh food for as long as possible, have enough food stored for winter, and are able to take advantage of the full growing season.

With the plantings read to go, you can start thinking about adding livestock. Animals can be a bit of a commitment, but bring a huge benefit to the off grid homestead. Any livestock should be planned out to not only provide meat, egg, or milk, but also to use their skills to further the homestead through fertilization, pest management, reusing agricultural waste, and cleaning land.

Finally, it is time to think about storing food. Off grid food storage is best accomplished through a whole variety of methods including — canning, smoking, drying, fermenting, root cellaring, dry storage. This require building up proper stage spaces like pantries, root cellars, and barns. Also you will need ample space and equipment to process your harvest in a timely manner.

With every step of the food production process it is wise to scale up over time. Focus one crop or process, and once you have mastered that aspect, move on to the next. Over time your food skills arsenal will swell as will your pantry.

Making the Off Grid Lifestyle Right for You

Going off grid is all about living free, and living the lifestyle of your dreams. The ultimate goal of making the move should be about finding yourself, growing a strong family, and connecting with nature. Modern society has lost much of the simple pleasures that make life great.

So, take the time to build a solid community around you and give back to the world. And, most of all, have fun!

Yurt Living Debt Free

Step 1 — Work toward living debt free

Debtors are modern slaves, and the only way to be free is to go debt free. Before going off grid, focus on paying off any debt that you might have and building up savings that you can use to make the move off the grid.

Write out income and expenses

The single most important step is sit down and write down exactly how much you make, how much you spend, and what you have saved. This type of planning skills, whether counting money, food, firewood, or other, is essential for living self sufficiently. Without clear vision, you have no hope setting out and following a successful plan to go off grid.

Your income and expenses sheet could be just as simple as a monthly total of what you make, and your spending by category — housing, food, utilities, transport, etc.

Also add everything up and see, are you saving money, spending money month to month, or staying about the same?

Develop a budget

Writing a budget is a time to make a commitment to yourself and your dream of an off grid lifestyle. Start with your income, and carve out a big chunk to pay yourself. This goes toward the most important things in your life, freedom by paying debt, savings so you can live the way you dream, and investment in yourself and your family.

Then, take what is left and divvy it up amounts the expenses. You may not have enough, in which case this is time to make the cuts. Can you survive in a smaller house? Could you eat out less or be thriftier with your food? How about during down the heater in the winter and putting on a coat?

The single most important point to make here is to live within your means, and to prioritize saving over spending. Paying yourself comes first, before all other spending.

Downsize to cut expenses

The biggest change that helps the most, I’ve found, is accepting a bit of humility and learning to downsize your life.

This might mean moving to a smaller house or apartment. Cutting entertainment. Sharing one of the cars. Staying home a bit more and focusing on simple pleasures.

If some expense doesn’t serve your dream, then cut it!

Save money

Track your bank account and set a clear goal, when you have XXXX in the bank you will go off grid. All that matters in this phase is the bottom line.

Saving not only means money, but skills, equipment, and materials. During this phase you have ample time to start collecting low cost items from garage sales, Craigslist, book sales, the library, etc. The more creative you can be in this regard, the faster you will be free and independent.

Step 2 — Learn useful skills

During the preparation phase is the best time to begin developing precious skills and knowledge to help you once you move off grid. Here are a few of the skills I find most valuable —

  • Canning
  • Cooking
  • Gardening / farming
  • Electrical
  • Mechanical
  • Wood cutting
  • Foraging / hunting

Take the time to look for local events online or in the newspaper that teach these skills. You may be surprised just how much is available near you.

Also, search around for good YouTube channels and websites that help you learn these skills. Watching instructional videos can be just as interesting and relaxing as watching TV or a movie with the family. Especially when it propels you all toward your future.

As much as possible, practice what you are learning, even if you are not yet of grid. Canning in the home is a great place to start and an invaluable skill on the self sufficient organic homestead. Low cost produce is often available from local produces in bulk near harvest time.

IDEA: Go for a walk in the woods, and learn what free wild foods are available with the help of a $20 field guide. Many times these can be borrowed for free from your local library or gotten for cheap at used book stores. Try harvesting some, and have a wild food night for yourself, your friends, or your family

Finding Off Grid Land

Step 3 — Find Off Grid Land

Possibly the biggest hurdle to going off grid is finding land. I’ve already written in depth guides with many ways to find good off grid land —

Plan for how much you can spend or how big of a down payment you could make

Given your financial situation and budget you made (above), determine just how which you have to spend for land, and how long you are willing to wait to save up. How much money you have determines a lot about how you should be looking for land, and what will be available to you.

Also, consider if you will be keeping a job while you move off grid. There are options out there to make payments on land through land contracts or USDA farm loan programs. You could also pay cash, or try one of the many free methods for owning off grid land.

Determine what area/state you want to move to

The next most important decision is where you want to live. If you don’t have much money, but are willing to move, then you might consider moving to a state with cheaper land and lower living expenses. I have written extensively about which states are the best in my comparison article —

Avoid common off grid land mistakes

Buying off grid land, there are many potential hidden problems that you should know about before you commit to buying. If you are new to the off grid lifestyle or rural property, then you probably haven’t had to worry about some of these in the past.

Road access in the winter

Seasonal problems like flash floods, storm runoff, mud, and snow can block access to a property in the winter that seems perfectly fine in the summer, when many people are doing their buying.

Has water access

Check that you have water rights, or can acquire water rights, on that property. This is particularly important west of the Mississippi. Just because there is water there doesn’t mean you can use it.

If you plan to dig a well, check well records in that area and speak with local drillers to determine possible well depth and cost. An over budget or dry well could quickly sink your off grid dreams.

No zoning restrictions

Zoning in your area, even rural areas, may not permit farming activities, or building of a permanent home. I have seen this problem with many low priced plots of land on the market, where the land is strangely zoned for only industrial activity, or the property is too small to meet zoning acreage requirements to build.

No covenants / HOAs

Increasingly, rural land divisions are have titles with additional restrictions on the type of livestock, activities, and style of home you can build.

Has south facing slopes

Property on the shady sides of hills is often much cheaper to buy, but severely limits gardening activity, and potential for solar energy including solar panels and “passive solar” heating. Even east or west facing slopes limit the solar potential by roughly half. Check that your property has enough solar access to accommodate your needs.

Is not susceptible to natural disasters

Is the property on a flood plain? What is the history of forest fires in that area? Is there slope above that could lead to potential for landslide? Are tornadoes or hurricanes common there? Tsunami?

Most counties in the US have disaster preparedness plans that you can reference for possible dangers in your area.

While you can’t avoid all danger, take steps to ensure your homestead isn’t in a particularly vulnerable spot.

Is not likely to be in the path of urban development

Many commuting distance rural properties find themselves quickly gobbled up by growing city lines. And, cities always bring more restrictions to your land, not less.

Look up your county and near by city(s) development plans, which will give you insight on what the government is planning in the near tearm.

Use every means available to search for affordable land

Most of the best and most affordable land is not on the market. And, likewise, isn’t something your real estate agent might find on their system. Take the time to do your research, and really look for the land that best suits you.

Here are a few links to more in depth guides to finding specifically off grid land:

Make an offer and close

This is the last phase of the search. You have selected the right property for your needs and are ready to approach the seller with an offer. If you have a real estate agent involved, they will handle much of this for you, although you may want to consult with real estate lawyer to look over details of the land contract if you are going that route.

When the seller accepts the offer, then you close on the property, and take possession if not ownership of your off grid land parcel. There are many legal considerations if you are doing this yourself, but I found this page to be a helpful guide:

Off Grid Drinking Water

Step 4 — Develop a water source

Once you have your off grid land, the next most important step is to think about water sources. Land without water is very difficult to be self-sufficient, and the costs of hauling water is not favorable.

While there are many good options for temporary housing and waste management, getting a good semi-permanent water source in place from the start makes the process of building up the homestead / farm-stead much easier and more pleasant.

Plan your water usage

This first thing to know is how much water you really need. This should include all potential uses including irrigation, baths, toilets, drinking and cooking.

It is good to take stock of each possible use separately, since you might be able to satisfy them with different sources. For instance, irrigation water might come partially from a grew water system or rain water collection. While, your drinking water might come only from a well or spring.

Usage also determines how much purification you might need.

Lastly, think ahead and try to plan out if you will have any increase in water usage in the next 5 – 10 years. Will additions to the family or livestock to the homestead increase usage? Likewise, going off grid changes your usage compared to city life, and may increase or decrease how much water you are using.

Identify a water source(s)

Take stock of what water sources you have on property. This includes any surface water you find, yearly rainfall, wells or possible wells, and springs. Check with the county to see how much of this water you are allowed to use, and for what.

All of this gives you an upper bound on what is possible on your land water wise.

Develop a water transport system

Now draw out the property and determine where the water as and where you need it to go. This may influence your homestead design, as piping can be a major cost.

Also look at elevation changes. If your water source is higher than the where you intend to use it, you have the option of installing gravity feed water systems, which require no pumps or energy input, and are highly preferred for off grid agriculture.

Wells and up slope runs of pipe will require pumps and thus some form of power.

Other options for water transport include irrigation ditches, for irrigation, and carry by hand, which is useful as a stop gap measure.

Consider seasonal availability to identify the need for water storage

In most regions of the world, rain falls more during one season than another, and creeks swell only during certain parts of the year. Be very sure to verify that the steam you rely on runs all year.

Seasonal changes in water supply can be overcome with water storage tanks or cisterns. There are many large plastic cisterns on the market, which are relatively cheap and easy to install. You also have the option of DIY options including “ferro-cement” tank building, made from rebar and mortar like cement, or earth bag cisterns dug in to the ground.

To determine the appropriate size for you cisterns, estimate your daily water usage during the dry season, and multiply that by the longest number of days you could potentially go without rain or your water source flowing. Round this number up to with a 10% – 20% safety factor to get the amount of storage capacity you would need.

Tiny Home Living Off Grid

Step 5 — Construct an off grid house, tiny home, cabin, cob house, or yurt

With water in place, now is the time to start working on building up the primary residence for the homestead. A well build home has the potential to be a major asset for the off grid family, since well designed and efficient homes save time and resources for decades to come. Taking the time to get the home right from the start will pay off in the long run.

Identify how much you can afford

Budget drastically impacts all of you future decisions, so it is very import to set out a budget, both a target price and an additional higher price that you could afford but cannot exceed. Construction, even DIY construction, is prone to going over budget, so factor in an extra 20% – 50% when you allocate money so you can still complete the home, even when the unexpected happens.

How much work can you do, and what skills you have

Take stock of what your skills are, what you think you can learn, and you physical ability. The more you can do yourself, the lower cost the construction will be.

If you are not a builder, and don’t have the means to hire one, then there are many approachable DIY solutions like cob, straw bale, or event traditional tiny house construction that you could learn to do fairly easily. Or a yurt is a doable DIY project for people who don’t feel up to climbing ladders or carrying lumber.

Otherwise, if you don’t have the time or physical capability to manage the construction process, you need to be realistic about what type of help you will need, and probably limit your building techniques to commonly accepted designs, like brick or stick frame construction. Natural building would be difficult to hire out.

Plan for how you will live during construction

Construction often goes over time as well, especially with DIY projects. Having a relatively comfortable temporary dwelling in place before you start building will make the whole process much more pleasant and reduce stress.

Good temporary options include:

  • RV or camper
  • Tent (summer)
  • Yurt
  • Shed / quick build wooden structure

Choose the site of the home

A well placed home is key to it’s functionality. Take the time to consider home placement very carefully.

For best solar access, and heating / cooling efficient, the “front” of the home should be facing south, or south east, with the bulk of the windows facing that direction. The north, and in warm climates the west, of the home should not have many windows, if at all, and should provide good insulation.

Trees or plants near by should shade the structure in the summer, but allow for full sun on the structure in the winter.

Avoid windy spots or areas that are natural flows for seasonal surface runoff.

Lastly, a home should be well placed to be near the centers of daily work, like a garden or livestock area. The tendency to put homes in picturesque out of the way corners of the property should be avoided for a working homestead.

Accumulate materials

Accumulating cheap or free building materials over time can cut down the cost of a DIY home considerably. Check out the building section of the following article for details on where to find free building material —

Ask for help or hire professionals

Before you start building is the time to ask for help from friends, family, or local professionals, as they may be able to provide advice on how to get started. When hiring builders, it is good to bring them in a soon as you can in the process, to benefit from their experience and skills.

File for appropriate permits

When you are ready to build, you may need to file for a building permit with the county. Contact your local building office for details. If you hire a builder to manage your project, they may do this for you.

Start construction

Start building!

Clivus Composting Toilet Design

Step 6 — Set up appropriate waste management

With an off grid homestead, waste management – handling of sewage and waste water — may or may not be integrated in to the home. And, most renewable systems require some integration in to the farm and the rest of the homestead.

If you are building traditional construction, you may have to plan out waste management in advance in order to plan for internal plumbing needs. You may also have to plan, permit, build, and certify a septic in advance of starting construction of the home.

Identify what you need

Firstly, answer the following questions to determine what you needs are

  • How many people will use?
  • Strangers or just family?
  • Children?
  • Indoor vs outdoor?

The number of people determines capacity, while the type of users (eg strangers / children) determine how “hands on” the toilet can be. You might consider having a flush toilet for guests and a composting toilet for the family.

Also consider if you are willing to have the “throne” inside or outside. Outside construction is more flexible and cheaper, but less convenient. You could also go hybrid, and have an inside place for “number 1” while all “number 2” is handled at an out house.

Construct your composting toilet, out house, composting system, septic, or biogas generator

Building a waste system can be as simple or complex as you want, from a few house in the afternoon for “Humane” composting to a multi day construction with heavy machinery for a septic. Here are a few good resources for DIY waste management —

Develop a yearly maintenance plan

When building any waste management system, always take the time to identify when and how you will maintain it over time. For a septic this may mean pumping every 3 – 5 years, with yearly checks to make sure there are no unexpected issues. While composting toilets may need monthly or weekly clean outs depending on usage.

I recommend writing all this down in advance and scheduling a date to accomplishing necessary tasks, as poorly maintained waste systems are no fun.

Wood Stove for Self-Sufficient Heat

Step 7 — Plan for free heating / cooling

Heating and cooling is one of the major energy users of the homestead, and deserves special consideration.

Identify your needs and sources

Common off grid energy sources include —

  • Wood – wood stove, rocket mass heater, masonry oven
  • Geothermal
  • Electric (from micro-hydro primarily)
  • Manure, burning
  • Compost / biogas

Off grid cooling methods include —

Determine how much passive heating and cooling will work for you

The best heating and cooling on the homestead comes from the earth and the Sun. Passive solar design of a home is:

  • designing the eaves and windows to let in light when cool in the winter
  • designing the eaves and windows to block light in the summer
  • maintain heat/cool throughout the day with thermal masses

Traditional use of root cellars, storing food under the ground, takes advantage of this. Also, modern revival of natural building techniques like cob, straw bale, and earth bag take advantage of the Earth’s cooling as well.

Experimental modern homes also are toying with underground or partially under ground home designs to help with cooling. As well as attached green houses for winter heating.

Another cheap and effective passive heating and cooling element is insulation. In most stick frame home designs, doubling your insulation will end up paying for itself in only a few years of operation.

Calculate how much energy you need

It’s hard to gauge how much wood, or other resource you would need to run your off grid home without trial and error. For the first winter, I recommend stocking up with much, much more wood or fuel than you think you will need. Keep records of how much you actually use.

Since cooling is mostly for comfort, rather than survival, you can just wait and give it a try.

Plan and build a place for fuel storage

Once you have an idea of how much fuel you might need, then you can build a permanent fuel storage area.

For many, this will be a wood shed with adequate room for 2 – 3 years worth of fuel. Drier wood burns more efficiently, and the longer you let it sit, generally the better. Wood sheds should have open sides, and be stacked to that wind can blow through the wood for better drying.

Solar Panels for Off Grid Energy

Step 8 — Install solar, micro-hydro, or wind power

Electricity is not always absolutely necessary on the off grid homestead, but sure improves the quality of life and allows for conveniences like lights and refrigeration.

Calculate how much power you need

The most important first step is to estimate how much power you actually use. The link below is my guide to how to calculate how much energy you use, and works for any off grid energy source including solar, wind, or water.

Solar Power Potential Map

Determine what your best energy resources are

Identify how much energy you could hope to get in your area. If you have flowing water on a slope, then definitely consider hydro power. Solar works most areas, but best in areas with sunny winters. Wind power is best in areas with consistent strong winds.

If you are lucky, you may be have two or all three available to you.

Plan on appropriate off grid energy system

Next, design the appropriate energy system for your site and needs. More info in the following beginner’s guides —

Install off grid energy system

Once planned, build out the system!

Develop a maintenance and replacement plan

Once installed, take the time to plan out when and how you will maintain your system. Solar panels last 10 – 20 years. Some types of batteries need yearly maintenance and balancing. Who will check your hydro power water intake for clogs? Who, when, and how will handle this should all be planned from the beginning.

Step 9 — Plant your garden / food forest

With the utilities in place, it is time start growing your own food. The key steps here are choosing the proper place, building up infrastructure, and planting the right crops.

Determine how much food you need to grow

Take note on how much food your family or yourself eats in a week, and how tastes change over time. If you are not eating from primarily the produce section or farmer’s market already, try making that change for at least a week and see how much you eat.

Write down your needs in terms of calories, and average weekly consumption of foods in pounds. Then multiply that by 52 for a rough goal for yearly production.

Plan a garden space

On rough way to determine how big a garden space is by calories per acre. For instance, if you ate 2000 calories per day on average, then you would need 712,000 calories per year. An acre garden might produce 1,000,000 / acre / year, so an 3/4 acre garden should easily cover those needs.

How much your garden yields depends heavily on how good of soil you have, climate, and what crops you choose. Allocating a bit bigger of a garden is safer than going too small.

Begin amending the soil

Uncultivated soil is generally fairly unproductive before adding compost, biochar, grass cuttings, and other amendments.

Once the space for a garden is market out, the first steps should be to begin composting near by and building up the soil health as much as possible. Burning brush for “biochar” is also a good early step to begin building soil health.

Put up fences and beds

Next, add infrastructure such as fences and beds to keep the critters out. More info on good designs to keep deer and other herbivores away in the following link —

Build up irrigation

Most gardens need some form of irrigation, whether active through direct watering, or passive “water garden” designs that leverage natural water flow and in soil water storage for no irrigation gardens —

Develop an planting / harvest calendar

The final step is to plan out when and where in your garden you will plant individual crops. This comes down partially to taste, what types of plants you like. Also, calorie needs since potatoes, for instance, produce many more calories per-acre than greens.

Off Grid Chickens

Step 10 — Bring in chickens and other livestock

Animals make an incredibly valuable addition to the self-sufficient farm or homestead. They are a valuable source of fat and protein, as well as providing services that actively promote other food production methods, such as eating pests and providing manure for compost.

Choose the most beneficial livestock

Most permaculturists recommend new farmers only add one new type of animal to the farm per year. This gives you time to adjust to the circumstances and develop your system without being overwhelmed.

When considering new animal additions, it is useful to plan out which one will provide the most use to the farm at that stage —

  • Chickens — meat, eggs, eat kitchen scraps, eat bugs, scratching increase fertility
  • Pigs — meat, eat kitchen scraps, clear land by rooting
  • Goats — meat, milk, eat brush, clear land
  • Cows — meat, milk, eat grass, improve pasture land health

Plan and build the barn / coop

Start any new livestock project by planning out and building their living quarters, as well as how they will get from their to where they eat. Traditional coops and barns still work just fine along with paddock fencing.

Newer methods include things like:

  • Chicken tractors (movable cage / coop)
  • Portable electric fencing

Housing should also include some plan for storing feed if you plan to supplement feed over the summer, or plan to keep animals over the winter.

Plan ahead when and how you will harvest the animals

Before you buy an livestock, be sure you know when and how you plan to handle the harvesting them. Will you do this at home, will you hire a mobile butcher, or take them to a slaughter house. The time and method of harvest should be roughly planned out in advance.

Buy in young animals

With all the necessary equipment in place, you are ready to buy in young animals or ready to milk cattle for use on your off grid homestead!

Step 11 — Build up your winter food supply

With crops in the ground and livestock growing, now is the time time to think ahead and start putting away food for the winter.

Plan for how much food you need to save

Consider your growing season, garden plan, and how much food your family eats (see above). Any month where you are not harvesting should needs to have some or all of the required food supplied from winter stores. You may also want to have extra food available in the spring to supplement the limited food variety available from fresh harvests.

Root Cellar for Self-Sufficient Food Storage

Build a pantry and/or root cellar

With some idea of the quantity of food you would have to put away to survive the winter, you can plan out a root cellar, pantry, basement, or other storage area for your feed.

Root cellars are usually underground, damp, and kept in the 50s F all year long. They are perfect for storing root vegetables and apples. Dry storage can be above or below ground, or in a basement. It should also be in the 50s F, but very dry and suitable for grains and canned goods. You may also have a pantry in or near the house that stores a wide variety of food you plan to use in the near future. This saves the root cellar or dry storage from the heat caused by opening the door every day.

Get adequate tools for food processing

Putting up subsistence quantities of food from your own harvest is a semi-industrial process, that benefits from proper tools and equipment. Getting everything set up in advance prevents extra stress from piling up in the busy harvest months.

Equipment can take the form of —

  • A large outdoor working space (portable tables)
  • Cans, lids, large water bath and or pressure canner
  • Cutting boards / knives
  • Crocks for fermentation and storage
  • Wooden crates for root vegetable storage
  • Apple corer and grinder
  • Large cooking vats or pots

Harvest — can, dry, or store food

Once harvest comes, the real work begins to preserve all of the spoils of the land. Here are some techniques you can use to save everything for the winter —

Stock up on things you can’t grow

Be sure to keep an eye out for things you can’t necessary grow, like sugar or salt, which are essential to off grid food preservation. While there are means to acquire them without resort to a trip to the store, often a buying a 10 lbs or 50 lbs bag is the quickest and cheapest way to go for these stables.

Having a good store of these stables and bought in emergency food in dry storage is a prudent move.

Establishing Community

Step 12 — Establish community

In the final step of going off grid, I’ll cover essential community building measures that help cement your new homestead in to a home.

Plan how you will handle emergencies

Consider potential natural disasters or human made disasters in your area. How would you handle a flood, forest fire, land slide, dam break, or other unfortunate occurrence?

At the very least, your family or land mates should be appraised and know what to do in such a situation. You may also want to have emergency equipment or a “bug out” bag in place in case you need to leave in a hurry.

This is also the time to consider you neighbors and family. Approaching people who live near by about how you could handle fire safety as a community is a good way to open a dialog. You may event be able to put in place a community emergency plan or fire brigade, where neighbors can pitch in and support each other through emergency situations.

Make room for fun and entertainment

A homestead is not all about work, but should be very much about play as well. Inviting family, neighbors, and members of your community to share your lifestyle help build good will and understanding. This could include fun gathering such as —

  • Barn or timber frame structure raising
  • Cob building workshop
  • Harvest festival
  • Pumpkin patch & pumpkin carving
  • Home grown thanksgiving feast

Give back to the community

At the heart of every off grid enterprise, there should be some core activity that gives Bach to the community and to nature. Take pride in what you have built, and undertake to make the world a better place than when you started. This could take the form of —

  • restoring disturbed natural habitat
  • building spaces for wildlife
  • protecting the land from excessive development
  • giving excess food to charity or the needy
  • providing seeds, plants, or cutting
  • advice or mentorship for young people
  • hosting WWOOFers
  • starting a blog or YouTube channel

How do I start living off the grid?

Start by righting your finances and getting out of debt. Buy, rent, or borrow land. Build up self-sufficient power, water, sewage, and food production systems. Buy or build an sustainable home. Plant a garden, bring in livestock. Lastly, form a solid community around you of like minded people.

What are off grid cabin essentials?

Off grid cabins must have —

  • Dependable shelter
  • Heat stores — wood or other
  • Water, clean and pure
  • Power, sustainable or off grid
  • Waste disposal
  • Food storage
  • Access or roads

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