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How to Live off the Land when You Live in the City

For the self-reliant, the city is a living and thriving habitat. Learn what they do so that you can live off the land, even if you're far from the countryside.


  • Step 1: Raise poultry or goats, where permitted by the city, for cheese, eggs, and meat.
  • Step 2: Grow your small city plot into economical yields for the family or for farmer's market sales. Eat less to be self-sufficient, healthy, independent, and happy.
  • FACT: "Urban gleaning" programs, such as the Portland Fruit Tree Project, harvested more than 4,500 pounds of fruit in 2008 from backyard bounty.
  • Step 3: Take homesteading courses on beekeeping, bread making, crop growing, and in the use of medicinal herbs.
  • TIP: Educate yourself or learn from local authorities who can guide you toward safe plants to avoid illness from contaminated ground.
  • Step 4: Scavenge fruit from untended trees in fields and lots.
  • TIP: Advertise in the neighborhood that you will make jam with any donated fruit. People are often glad to have you pick off what they don't want to clean up.
  • Step 5: Seek out dandelions, wild carrots, feral mushrooms, or fiddlehead ferns that frequently overrun city greenbelts. Make a mug of sassafras tea with pickings from yards. Wood sorrel, mallow, chickweed, and wild mustard are all edible greens often mistaken for weeds.
  • Step 6: Fish off river piers to live off the land in a city. Trap squirrels and pigeons, and flightless squabs, which are more palatable. In narrow lots or abandoned areas, trap and eat rabbits.

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