Homesteading for a Better Life | My Story

Hi, my name is Mea, and welcome to Cranberry Vintage! I am glad that you stopped by to visit and learn more about us.

Hi My Name is Mea and welcome to Cranberry Vintage!

A few facts about me. I;

  • Am a mother of two teenagers (Ariel & D’Marion), two dogs (Nyla & Fred).
  • Have an incredible partner in love name Ron.
  • Love to stay busy. (I cook, garden, sew, collect houseplants, DIY, and more.
  • Am a knowledge seeker and will sit for hours learning something new.
  • Love mysteries and cartoons.
  • Love to meditate and stay fit.

Urban Homesteading is a lifestyle of patience and self-reflection. With that said, I wanted to take the time to share more about us and how we ended up here.

Living the Dream (Or So I Thought)

For the past six years, we have lived in a ranch-style home in inner-city St. Louis, Missouri. For the past three years, we have been working to transition our home into an urban homestead.

Even though this is the path that we are heading to now, you could not have told me that this is where I would end up three years ago. 

Homesteading, let alone gardening was not even in my vocabulary at first. To put it bluntly, three years ago, I was full of myself and comfortable.

My life was changing quickly. I just got a new management position in IT at the local community college, bought a new car, was an off-and-on entrepreneur, and just purchased a house. I thought I had it all. As a matter of fact, I felt like I was in there like booty hair (thanks Aunt Dedra).

In a state of euphoria, I thought that I had enough money to do whatever needed to be done.  Now hearing this, you would think that I was a reckless spender who lives only on the finer things in life. That is how I ended up all humble and urban homesteading, right? Wrong.

Ready For Change

Money management was not my strongest suit at the time. My biggest issue was mentally adapting to the change as quickly as it was coming.

I was a single mom who went from no to low income and government assistance to standing on my own two feet with no aid within a matter of days.

Now understand, I am not blaming my transition on my future situation because it was entirely my choice. 

I was ready for the change. Way before I started my new job, I made the decision to walk away.

To the outside looking in, you would have thought that I would be comfortable in that life because I was a recipient of government assistance. On the contrary, I always looked at it as a stepping stone to the next phase.

Even though it had its perks. Being on assistance can keep you on edge. Living in someone else’s space, by someone else’s rules, telling you what is enough to feed your family became a bit much. Especially when my children and I went homeless twice due to slumlords.

I was ready for a change and for me, it couldn’t come soon enough. However, even though I had great intentions physically, I didn’t consider the mental and emotional transition from the poverty mindset that I was about to experience.

Life didn’t tell me that it was about to get real. The changes happened so fast that I had to quickly decide either to sink or swim.

From Extra Money to Sink or Swim Money

As mentioned before, as I transitioned into my new life, I underestimated the impact that would have on my day today.

I quickly became a victim of debt and excessive consumerism because I had to provide for myself and my children. Besides providing food, I manage the responsibilities of paying for health insurance, flexible spending for health needs, school activities, and whatever else we need on a check that I only received once a month. With all of this going on, the “extra money” that I had wasn’t extra money at all. It became more like “sink or swim” money.

Now, I saw the walls caving in. In response, attempted to take on new ventures to add additional revenue to the household to combat the change, such as Adjuncting, furniture repair, daycare, temp admin assistant, and even a part-time hitman (Btw, the last one is a joke :-)).

Sidebar, when you are a single mom with children who depend on you, you quickly go from being a regular parent to Wonder Woman in seconds.

Your Health vs. Your Hustle

Now let’s get onto the conflict. As I was working to keep my head above water, I was also in a state of panic.

I worked a full-time job, hustling, addressing needs, going to school, spending time with family, and had a severe lack of organization.

Eventually, the overload can be devastating to my mind, body, and spirit. 

Pretty soon, I found myself over my head in debt and sitting in the doctor’s office for heart concerns.

After running numerous tests on my heart and overall health, my doctor found out that I was 100% well. That’s when I realized that the concerns were not from any illness, but from stress and anxiety.

It was then, I knew that it was time to make a change.

The Decision to Change

Overcoming my stress and anxiety, I started researching ways to get out of debt, excess consumerism and live a more peaceful life over the next few months.

To help with the changes, Ron taught me how to create my first pollinator garden in the backyard, and it was beautiful. Even though the garden was a significant first step, we still had a nice size yard left, and I felt like we could do more, but I honestly didn’t know what.

While doing some more research, I came across a video on a YouTube Channel called “Roots and Refuge.” It was a blog about a big family living on a small farm called a Homestead. Hearing about a homestead and the possibility of having such a reliable food source in your backyard was a first for me. I quickly indulged in the idea, and I watched her and other homesteader’s videos over the next few days. They grow their food, grow fruit trees, can food, rainwater systems, and more. I enjoy the fact that even though it looked like it had its challenges, they look so relieved and so carefree.

Discovering Urban Homesteading

After watching so many videos, I knew that I wanted to obtain a sustainable lifestyle from that point. I wanted to create my homestead. There was only one major problem, living on acres and off-grid seemed okay, but I didn’t want to move away from my family or the community we were currently live. 

So I decided to look into what it would take to turn my inner-city home into an urban homestead. Urban homesteading is the process of becoming a self-sufficient and sustainable as possible, even if you stay in a metropolitan area around other neighbors and amenities such as grocery stores and fast-food restaurants. Now, I didn’t find much on urban homesteading initially, so what I did instead was learn from homesteaders who stayed off-grid and applied some of those methods to my home over the next three years. 

Homesteading for a Better Life

Our Humble Abode

So, I have to admit, considering I was using a combination of resources and freestyling what I thought was the best, my first three years was a unique experience.

I had no clue what I was doing in year one, but we gave it a shot. We planted three trees, built some large garden boxes out of scrap wood, and planted some evasive cherry tomatoes. During this time, I found a lot of inspiration from the sustainable tours and Ron’s growing love for food forests. 

During year two, I was a bit more solid. This year, I focused more on expanding the yard and organizing the pollinator garden better. But the garden started to take shape.

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