For Ilene White Freedman’s family, “make your own pizza” night even includes a homemade oven.
Freedman, the co-owner of House in the Woods Farm in Adamstown, is giving a presentation on this kind of “Modern Homesteading” on Nov. 7 at the Common Market on Buckeystown Pike. The lifestyle includes a level of “do it yourself” that goes more into daily living than Pinterest-inspired crafts.
Freedman’s farm, which is now in its 20th season, was built by Freedman’s husband, Phil. It functions as an organic Community Supported Agriculture business where members are invited to pick and plant items. This is part of their mission to teach young people the source of their food.
“They witness the process from seed to harvest,” Freedman said. “They’re involved in the whole process of where their food comes from.”
To Freedman, this is a large part of modern homesteading. She said they are homesteaders in the traditional sense in that her husband “tamed a piece of land” and built a home on it. But homesteading doesn’t have to mean shelter building.
To the Freedmans, homesteading is looking at anything they might want or need, and considering whether or not they can do it themselves.
“Homesteading is living with sustainability in mind,” she said. “… Find projects you love. It’s not defined the same for anyone.”
Providing her family’s own food and shelter gives Freedman the satisfaction of filling the human need to take care of oneself and basic daily needs. She compared it to cooking and eating food around a campfire.
“You’ve worked hard, you’ve made fire and it just tastes better that way,” she said.
Freedman and her family try to provide as much of their own food as possible. They raise beef and chicken and grow most of their own produce, outside of fruit, which they buy. She said they cover their own vegetable needs about 50 weeks of the year, outside of a small window in late March/early April when winter crops are over, but spring crops aren’t ready.
Freedman said they also tend to buy baked goods and she doesn’t always bake their bread.
Homemade “takeout” especially makes White Freedman happy. They make pizza in their own clay fired oven with homemade sauce and crust. They have also made Chinese-inspired chicken and broccoli and sesame chicken dishes.
As they were eating the latter of the two, Freedman recalled her 14-year-old son observing: “You’ve been doing this for 20 years [and] it doesn’t get old to you.”
Her two sons — who are home-schooled — have also gotten into the DIY lifestyle and have built chicken and duck houses. Her husband does some mechanical jobs around the farm, though it does not include all auto work.
“If we’re not interested, we hire it out,” Freedman said.
She doesn’t sew all their clothes, but Freedman enjoys knitting hats, scarves and sweaters. She is often asked why they don’t raise sheep for wool, but Freedman said she generally knows her limits and would rather support others in their wool ventures.
“I would never get that quality being spread too thin,” she said.
Not all homesteading projects have been a repeated success, she said. One time she made homemade cheddar cheese, which Freedman said gave her an appreciation for the cheese-making craft.
“Our cheddar cheese didn’t come out like cheddar,” she said. “I called it something else.”
To Freedman, that is the beauty of homesteading. It doesn’t have to be 100 percent self-sufficiency in any one area and it can evolve with time.
She has only recently started making her own herbal remedies, including echinacea. Other projects, including homemade garlic powder, happened only due to a crop being ready too early.
“I think that’s a lot of homesteading, pushing through the next little thing,” she said.