Urban Homesteading

Rachel Kaplan with K. Ruby Blume

Sonoma County somatic-psychotherapist and homesteader Rachel Kaplan got together with her longtime friend K. Ruby Blume, who founded Oakland’s Institute for Urban Homesteading, and came up with this book of “heirloom skills for sustainable living.” It’s an information-packed and visually interesting guide to transforming your urban or suburban house and plot of land (no matter how small) into a hub of eco-friendly, healthful, community-minded goodness, and seems poised to become one of those must-have how-to books for those wanting to live the light-footprint, homesteading lifestyle. There are many DIY sections on everything from how to start a community garden; to how to raise goats, ducks, chickens, rabbits and quail; to how to make sauerkraut, yogurt and cheese; to how to build a composting toilet and a solar oven. Sprinkled in between are profiles of various Bay Area homesteading experts, including a man who works with lifers at San Quentin State Prison on gardening and sustainability projects. Kaplan’s therapist chops come into play in parts, such as the chapter called “Personal Ecology,” in which she writes, “It’s good to have a place to go where you can listen to yourself, even when the world around you is filled with cars and sirens, or when you feel noisy and altered and are rushing around inside. Finding a spot to sit in nature can serve this need.”