Homestead or Farm – What’s the Difference?

When I refer someone to our place, I call it a farm.  Hardly ever to I call it a homestead.  But, is our farm a homestead too?  I will sometimes intertwine the two as one when I am blogging.  That got me to thinking, what is the difference?

So, I went to my old faithful Webster’s dictionary for some definitions.

farm –

1. Land cultivated for agricultural production.  2. a. Land used for the breeding and raising of domestic animals.  b. An area of water used for the breeding and raising of a particular type of aquatic animals.

Yes, we cultivate the land for agricultural purposes and we do have land used specifically for raising and breeding livestock.  We got us a farm, boys and girls!

homestead –

1.  A family’s house, esp. a farmhouse, with adjacent buildings and land.  2.  A tract of land granted, as under the Homestead Act, to a settler who cleared, cultivated and lived on it.

I have a farmhouse with additional buildings and land.  The second definition does not apply, or does it?  It would have been nice to obtain a piece of land under the Homestead Act.  But, according to the first definition, we got us a homestead too!

So, how does a farm differ from a homestead?

A farm generates money by selling the livestock and/or produce from the land.  Like the definition, it is about production.  A farmer has a different goal than a homesteader in that he/she strives to make a living or at least bring in some income.  One can be a conventional farmer or a more sustainable farmer.  Most people will equate a farmer to soybeans and corn, but there is obviously much more to it than that.  One of our goals here is to generate enough income to make a living off of the farm.  But, we also have another goal.  Read on.

A homestead is a place where a person and/or family cultivates the land and tries to become more self sufficient.  A homesteader strives to live off of the land by growing and raising what he eats.  Although they might sell a few things here or there, that really isn’t there primary goal.  They are the ‘back-to-the-land’ kind of people who appreciate the organic or close to it growing measures.  They like to use what they can on their land to make it more sustainable.

Sometimes farmers can lose sight of a more sustainable approach and just get caught up in the more conventional ways to farm.  Their creativity can diminish and their only goal is to make enough money.

Sometimes, homesteaders can get so caught up in living off of the land, that they forget that there are numerous ways to make a little cash to help keep things rolling.

With many things in life, I kind of like the balanced approach.  Our goal here at the farm is to not only generate income, but to live off the land by consuming what we grow and use what we have without relying on outside resources as much as possible.

I think there should be a different word for this type of person like myself.  Because of the many misconceptions of farmers today, another word needs to be added to distinguish us from the rest.

Sustainable – pertaining to a system that maintains its own viability by using techniques that allow for continual reuse.

– able to be supported as with the basic necessities or sufficient funds.

A sustainable farmer.  Yes.  That is our goal.

Which one are you?

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2 comments on “Homestead or Farm – What’s the Difference?

  1. Thank you for posting this examination of these two words. I have often wondered what to call our place and now I see that we are both. We are heavier on the homestead side but do sell some to help sustain the homestead. We, like you, are aiming for a balanced approach.

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