Urban Homesteading Portland Style

At this new shop in Sellwood returning to the prairie life is made very appealing…and you don’t even have to leave the big city. Learn how to can your summer garden, make fresh cheese and perfumed soap.

By Teri Gelber June 30, 2011


Supplies & Classes for the Urban Homesteader

Portland has the best of both worlds: a rich urban existence with access to the rural, almost instantly. We can be sophisticated, well-dressed city cats that milk own own goats and make our own cheese. It’s why everyone wants to live here. Whether you dream of that farm in the countryside, or if backyard chickens and gardening books occupy way too much of your bedside reading pile, you’ll want to scurry on over to Portland Homestead Supply Co in Sellwood.

Summer is the perfect season to get started on your own little homestead. At this groovy, well-designed boutique, you’ll find all the supplies you need to get the butter churning and the pickles pickling. Beautiful Weck jars line the shelves, in every size. You’ll find handmade brooms and wringer washing machines too. And, the classes they’re offering this season are just what this city mouse needs to navigate the life of Little House on the Prarie.

Bath Bombs: July 5 and July 19
Learn to make Bath Bombs – those wonderful, fizzy balls of lavishness that turn an ordinary bath into a real luxury! Amber Arpin has been making Bath Bombs for years, and with her recipe and guidance, you will make a batch of bombs you can use as gifts or for treating yourself.
Classes are Tuesday, July 5 and July 19 from 6:30 to 8:00 pm and cost $20. All supplies are provided. Call the shop if you have any questions.

Canning Basics: July 12 or July 26
Join Master Food Preserver Cara Haskey as she takes you step by step through the water-bath canning process. It’s berry season, and you will have the opportunity to make some strawberry preserves and even take home a jar to enjoy with your family.
Classes are Tuesday, July 12 or July 26 from 6:30 to 8:00 pm and cost $35.

Basic Soapmaking: July 13 or July 27
Learn the ancient art of soapmaking in this hands-on class and take home a small batch (5 or 6 bars) of soap and a mold. All supplies are provided.
Classes are Wednesday, July 13 or July 27 from 6:30 to 8:00 pm and cost $30.

Tool Sharpening: July 7 or July 21
Bring in your dull knives and tools and learn the techniques to sharpen and care for them. Simon Lyle – resident craftsman, builder (he designed and constructed our gate), and artisan of all trades – will provide the equipment and expertise to teach you this important skill.
Classes are Thursday, July 7 or July 21 from 6:30 to 8:00 pm and cost $10.

Making Fresh Cheeses: July 14 or July 28
Oh, the wonderful things you can do with milk and cream, like making fresh ricotta, cream cheese, and mascarpone. Learn the basics in this cheesemaking class and sample some of the goodies.
Classes are Thursday, July 14 or July 28 from 6:30 to 8:00 pm and cost $15.

Making the Change: Homesteading in an Urban Environment Support Group: July 10
This is an ongoing group that will meet once a month to discuss urban homesteading – what does it mean and how do we do it? Some topics to be discussed are:
-Unplugging our lives (and not just the television). An in-depth discussion about home appliances and lights. What is necesssary and what is not? What is the bigger picture of ‘off the grid’.
-Shifting consumer status quo. Exploring the struggles with making radically different choices; resisting the mainstream consumer current. How do we not get caught up in acquiring more stuff?
-The impossibility of keeping the perfect home. Redefining the nuclear family perfection model. How do we un-isolate and un-domesticate?
Join discussion leader Junita Wild on Sunday mornings from 9:30 to 11:00 am for lively conversation and ideas exchange. The group is free, but because of limited space, registration is required.

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