Returning to the Land: Embracing Sustainable and Self-Sufficient Living

While the general trend worldwide is increasing urbanisation, there is a much smaller, but increasing trend towards the exact opposite. Moving from the city back onto the land, driven by the aim for more sustainable and self-sufficient living. Whether it be to property on the outskirts of the city with a larger garden, out into the suburbs, a small inland dorpie, coastal town, or a small holding. 

What’s driving this?

Reasons are many, and include a desire to get off the grid (figuratively, and thanks to loadshedding also literally), escape the proverbial ‘rat race’, foster resilience, pursue a healthier lifestyle and reduce your ecological footprint. And perhaps grow some, or most, of your own food. Or possibly just to establish a deeper connection with the natural world. And on the extreme end, there is a desire for almost total self-reliance, called ‘Homesteading’.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the covid episode and ensuing government response, including lockdowns, has also been a contributing factor. In two ways; as much as we like to put all of it behind us and move on, the spectre of lockdowns and government meddling in every aspect of our lives looms large in the psyche of many – and who wouldn’t want to be far away from the city should something like this happen again. And on the positive side (arguably the only positive outcome of the pandemic), many people, thanks to the rapid adoption of remote working, have been freed from their daily commute into the office and are now still free to work from where they choose. 

Fostering Resilience

By ‘returning to the land’, they aim to reduce reliance on external systems, ensuring that at least of one one’s basic needs like food, water, and energy can be met, even in the face of unforeseen crises. This newfound resilience offers peace of mind, knowing that they are better prepared to weather life’s inevitable storms.

Pursuing a Healthier Lifestyle

The shift towards a more sustainable and self-sufficient lifestyle inherently encourages healthier living. Local and organic food becomes more accessible, with for some the option to grow their own. Gardening and a bit of physical labor provide exercise and outdoor activity, contributing to improved overall well-being.

Reducing the Ecological Footprint

For some, environmental consciousness is a driving force behind the decision to move from the city back onto the land. Urban living often involves high energy consumption, excessive waste production, and reliance on resource-intensive systems. In contrast, sustainable and self-sufficient living emphasizes eco-friendly choices, resource conservation, and the utilisation of renewable resources.

A Deeper Connection with Nature

City living can be devoid of the simple pleasures and connections to nature that many yearn for. For those who choose to return to the land, this becomes a powerful draw. Gardening, raising animals, and living amidst natural landscapes provide daily reminders of the beauty and wonder of the Earth. It fosters a deeper sense of harmony and connection in our increasingly disconnected world.

Exploring the Spectrum of Choices

The shift towards sustainable and self-sufficient living encompasses a wide spectrum of choices, each offering unique possibilities for those seeking a life closer to nature. These choices cater to varying levels of commitment, lifestyle preferences, and available resources:

Making an Inner City Home More Sustainable:  Even within the confines of the city, it’s possible to start on the journey toward sustainability. Transforming small urban spaces into flourishing gardens and embracing energy-efficient home upgrades are the initial steps. Community initiatives, like urban gardens and environmental cleanups, further enhance the eco-conscious urban experience.

Moving to the Suburbs: Transitioning to suburban life allows for more significant space and opportunities for sustainable living. Rainwater harvesting systems and solar panels can be installed, contributing to energy and water independence. A bit of dedicated garden space can yield a variety of fruits and vegetables. And keeping chickens can provide fresh eggs.

Moving to a Small Inland or Coastal Town:  For those seeking a balance between rural and urban living, smaller towns offer an ideal compromise. A slower pace of life, access to local resources, and engagement with local farming and farmers’ markets make these towns appealing. Community involvement can create a sense of belonging.

Moving to a Smallholding or Rural Plot of Land:  For individuals drawn to total self-reliance, rural life provides an opportunity to fully embrace homesteading. Here, extensive food production, including large gardens and livestock, is the norm. Off-grid living, regenerative agriculture, and environmental conservation initiatives are all part of the package, fostering a deeper connection with the land.

In conclusion

While urbanisation may dominate the global landscape, the call of sustainable and self-sufficient living, and a life closer to nature, is growing louder for many. Whether driven by a desire for independence, resilience, healthier living, ecological responsibility, or a deeper connection with the world, this shift represents a meaningful and transformative journey. For many, it’s a response to the uncertainties of our time, a way to escape the rat race, and a path to a more balanced and harmonious existence, forging a new connection with the land. Ultimately, the choice you make depends on the degree of self-sufficiency you desire in your journey from the city to a more sustainable lifestyle closer to nature. Whether you opt for an urban garden or a rural homestead, the path to sustainable and self-sufficient living offers a fulfilling and transformative experience that aligns with the call of nature and the desire to live a more conscious harmonious life.

And I can assure, having embarked on this journey myself, that home grown vegetables taste far more delicious than anything you’ll ever buy in a supermarket.