Homesteading in Arizona: The Beginners Guide

Arizona state flag washed out on reclaimed wood

What is Homesteading?

A homesteading lifestyle can range in practice however, the broad definition is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency in which you grow your own food, find your own electricity sources, and make your own clothing and products. Some homesteaders will also live a lifestyle without using currency or any kind of money, they make the things that they need or trade with others for items that they cannot make themselves. Others choose to homestead as a journey and slowly adapt parts of their lifestyle to self sufficiency with the goal of full self sufficiency in mind. If you are considering homesteading in Arizona, it is important to view it as a process rather than a destination; it takes careful planning and implementation, and you might find that it is best to do it in stages so that you have time to adjust adequately to each one. You can separate your goals by season to make them more manageable, as well as to help you identify the individual challenges that come with each season and what you will have to plan for. It’s also important to understand the emotional taxes of homesteading; subjecting yourself to diverting from societal norms can be confusing and unforgettable, and you will have to push through the uncomfortable. It can be a huge adjustment, but you can do it!

Urban and suburban homesteading is a different ballgame, as while it may not have the rural aspects of traditional homesteading, it is still homesteading. Families in suburban communities may still choose to live minimally and provide as much as possible for their family on their own.

There are many reasons why some people choose to enter a life of homesteading. Some may choose to do so because they are passionate about natural and minimalism while others may choose to do so after a successful career that has  given them the financial resources to be able to do so. It would be irresponsible to consider a life of homesteading without acknowledging there are some financial burdens; you will have to plan for spending without having an income if you will no longer be working your traditional job. Transitioning to a self sustaining homestead will be incredibly rewarding and eventually you will be able to live off of what you have, but there is an initial investment for sure. You may also have to borrow money to acquire land, so this is another consideration as well. However, there is a huge benefit to filing your own land, as you will feel a sense of responsibility and pride to the land and will feel closer to nature and the food that you’re putting into your body.

Benefits of Homesteading

There are tons of benefits to homesteading that are the reason why so many continue to follow the lifestyle. The first would be a strong sense of responsibility, pride, and humility. Homesteading is frustrating and forces you to put yourself at odds with mainstream society. It can be very challenging and humbling to go against everything we’ve ever done and challenge all of the beliefs that we hold. We will likely also be humbled as we fail at new tasks or face challenges that we didn’t’ prepare for. Full self sufficiency is even more difficult in practice, so there are going to be challenges that you would never have predicted. However, overcoming these challenges and still being successful will give you a great sense of pride. Eating food that you have grown yourself is also much more rewarding, and will lead to a stronger sense of your body and your health. Focus on caring for your body also helps self worth and pride, two invaluable benefits.

Homesteading with help you learn to appreciate both yourself and the Earth. Watching a crop go from seed to meal will show you the beauty of what you are able to do and what our Earth is able to create. Gone are the days of going to the supermarket and picking out a piece of produce without knowing its story. Not only will you have full control over your food now, but you will appreciate its story. It will also help your children develop a strong work ethic as they watch the journey of every single thing that you use; they will view products as so much more than products. You will also gain a ton of new knowledge about the world and the way things are made.

Homesteading also produces a tremendous positive environmental impact. Homesteading protects local water resources, manages fossil fuel use, and decreases energy consumption. Your overall carbon footprint decreases as you skip the transportation effects associated with purchasing products, and you are likely using less fuel to drive and are using alternative water collection and purification methods such as rainwater.

Arizona Homestead Laws

Every person over the age of 18 is legally allowed to own a homestead in Arizona. Arizona has a lot of farms and ranches, 26 million acres to be exact. You will also need to get a livestock feedlot license if you are going to be maintaining livestock. The best crops that you’re going to be growing will be spinach, pecans, cotton, caggage, and lettuce. The U of A Cooperative Extension can be a helpful resource here. There are also laws that require farmers to submit to inspections to make sure that all of the animals that are being slaughtered are healthy and are sold and purchased in legal ways. You will also have to look into the laws around recording the health of each animal. There are Open range laws that also differ by area, so you would want to look into your specific region for planning purposes.

There is no permit or license required to sell at a farmers stand in Arizona, and insurance is not required if you are selling. However, if you are going to want to sell home baked goods, you will have to register for the Home Baked and Confectionary Goods program before you are able to sell them for profit at a market. They also recommend that you take a food handler trainer course if you are going to be selling produce and baked goods for a large source of income.

If you are going to be selling eggs, you have to limit at 25 cases per year (750 dozenes). You register for free with the Department of Agriculture, and then you will have to properly label your dozens and keep them refrigerated properly before sale.

How to Start Homesteading in Arizona

If you are ready to start homesteading in Arizona, realtors recommend that you file a Homestead Declaration Form to make sure that you are legally protected. You can get this form from the county clerk’s office. When you fill this out make sure that you do not sign it until you are in front of a notary. Then, once it’s notarized you can submit it to be recorded in public records. To start homesteading in practice, you will want to outline the first steps you will take to simplify your life. It can also be helpful to make friends with other homesteaders so that you have people to bounce ideas off of and get more information about the community and practices there. You can then start gardening and consider what you will want to grow and during one season, as well as if you are going to be raising animals. This process can take time and requires planning, as well as financing from saving that you have hopefully prepared previously. Your new community can be an invaluable asset here, as they can give you valuable insight into what works and what doesn’t in this particular community. Since you are in Arizona, you will also want to think about water and how you will collect it and purify it, especially in the case of a drought. You’ll also want to consider how you will keep cool during the hot summers, as well as which crops are going to survive during these times.

Arizona is a great state to consider if you’re looking into homesteading. It will be somewhat easy and affordable to acquire land, as well as the benefit that many of the institutions are easy to work with and licensing regulations are clearly outlined. If you are ready and able to deal with the changing climate you will be ready to live a life of successful homesteading!

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