Homesteading in New Hampshire
In the past, the term “homestead” or “homesteading” has been used in a variety of ways. In this country, the term dates to the Homestead Act of 1862. At that time, willing and able free people were incentivized by the federal government with the offer of 160 acres each if they moved west, built a home site and improved the land for agriculture. According to the United States government, by 1890, 373 thousand homesteads had been granted on about 48 million acres of land in the western states. The legislation helped accelerate the westward expansion of the United States and furthered economic development.
Now, however, the term has come to refer to less of a geographic expansion and more of a desire to live a more self-sufficient lifestyle. Just as many original homesteaders had to rely on their own labor for most of their sustenance, clothing and material goods, modern homesteaders tend to lean into the value of self-sufficiency. This manifests in several ways from growing significant portions of their own food, raising their own livestock for milk, meat and other products, canning and preserving harvests, and building off-the-grid and efficient home energy systems such as solar, wind, geothermal and hydro-power. Some modern homesteaders can sell or trade excess produce, value-added products or crafts at farmer’s markets, roadside stands or on the internet. New Hampshire has specific laws pertaining to what kind of food products can be sold and what licenses are required to sell products. For more information visit the NH Department of Health and Human Services website.
You don’t need 160 acres of land to practice the principles of self-reliance and many people still work regular jobs away from their homestead in order to pay bills, but they spend their off-hours tending gardens, raising livestock and selling their goods.
UNH Extension and other university Extension services have many resources available to those interested in self-sufficient lifestyles.
Starting a Garden-
UNH Extension Soil Testing Services- Information on how and where to send in a soil sample for testing, price list, and a soil testing FAQ.
Getting Started with Gardening- Guide with overview of how to start a garden and links to many common gardening topics.
Producing Your Own Eggs- Guide to raising a backyard flock of laying hens
Raising Turkeys- Overview on how to raise turkeys from poults.
Canning and Preserving Your Harvest-
Let’s Preserve: Basics of Home Canning (Penn State Extension)
Let’s Preserve: Drying Fruits and Vegetables (Penn State Extension)
Let’s Preserve: Fermentation – Saurerkraut and Pickles (Penn State Extension)
Thinking About Installing Solar at Your Home- NH Department of Energy
Credits and Deductions Under the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022- IRS website describing the tax credits for electric vehicles, efficient home improvement, and residential clean energy (including solar, wind, heat pumps and battery storage.
NHSaves- Energy efficiency tools, resources, and information on financing and incentives for energy efficient home upgrades.
Want more? Check out the UNH Cooperative Extension Yard and Garden Website for more articles, fact sheets, blog posts, podcasts, and videos.
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