The Micro-Homesteader

Our fair city, like so many cities these days, is changing. It’s growing. Every day, older homes and businesses are giving way to four-story buildings with commercial space on the ground floor and apartments on the top. I must admit, initially I wasn’t a fan, especially when one of the four-story behemoths went up right next door to the shop. But the reality is that the population is growing and people need somewhere to live. The alternative to high-density is urban sprawl – and I’m seriously opposed to urban sprawl. You see, our city, unlike many major metropolitan areas, is surrounded by farm land. A short drive in any direction from Portland and you’ll find orchards, vineyards, berry farms, vegetable farms, dairy farms, beef and poultry farms… you get the idea. There are also parks, wilderness areas, open spaces and hundreds of miles of trails, which also happen to be great for mushroom hunting. So, if a four-story apartment complex means that the farm land and open space nearby can be preserved, then build on.

What this does mean is that our business must change and grow along with the rest of the city and our new neighbors.

Since its inception, Portland Homestead Supply Co. has catered to the urban homesteader – the city dweller who wished to grow food, raise chickens, can, preserve, ferment, and make many of the necessities needed for running a simple home. And while we applaud and support those endeavors, the reality is that many of our customers are what I now refer to as micro-homesteaders.

Micro-homesteading does not lend itself to growing food, raising chickens or even putting by a season worth of fruits and veggies. Urban apartments don’t boast pantries and root cellars. But many urban apartment dwellers still value access to clean, wholesome food. And while they might not can a bushel of summer corn, they are likely to jam-up some fresh picked berries. This new breed of homesteader must forgo veggies in the garden for sprouts on the window sill and a basement full of pickling crocks for a refrigerator full of fermenting quarts. They still value quality products made with natural ingredients. They want household cleaners that don’t add toxins to their living space, soaps made with pure saponified oils and phthalate-free fragrances, and candles that burn clean soy and beeswax. And this is what we will offer.

To keep up with the changing demographics of our city, we’ll be introducing some new items and paring out some old. Here is a quick summary of some of the changes you will be seeing from us during 2017:

·        We will introduce a line of household cleaners made from safe, recognizable ingredients that you can feel good using around your children and pets. Each cleaner will come with a recipe so that you can make it at home or you can buy a bulk container to refill your cleaning jars.

·        We will continue to offer our line of soaps and add a line of organic soaps and liquid soaps.

·        We will offer a variety of candles made from soy and beeswax with no petroleum by-products or phthalates.

·        We will continue to offer oils, butters, clays, waxes, as well as jars, crocks, bottles, tins and all sorts of other paraphernalia for those who want to create from scratch.

·        We will still carry our extensive selection of essential oils.

·        We will still sell fresh eggs from our local farmer Chris and he will still bring pullets to sell once or twice a month, but we will no longer sell baby chicks in the springtime.

·        We will no longer sell Ball jars or common kitchen utensils that are easy to find in myriad other shops, but will continue to carry those tools that are unique to homesteading such as bean frenchers, butter churns, and coffee grinders.

Change can be difficult, and we anticipate having a few growing (or shrinking) pains this year, but are excited about being able to offer more to both our urban and micro-homesteading customers. We appreciate and value your support. Happy Homesteading.