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There have been many confusions as to what are the differences between a homestead and a farmstead. Sometimes they even get mixed up as hobby farms and ranches. But farmsteads and homesteads have a few distinguishing elements.
Homestead is a piece of land owned by a family that produces products needed for an individual family to survive. Farmsteads are mainly focused on generating money from their products.
Farmsteads and homesteads have very much in common. Both are focused on producing quality food. They are both owned by families, which means that families work together to produce. A commitment to a better quality of life is something they share, as well as the ability to know where the food comes from.
What is a farmstead?
Farmsteads are focused on producing food for their families and to sell their goods. It’s an area that is devoted to selling agricultural goods, primarily producing and selling food and crops. Owners of farmsteads, or farmsteaders, pay attention to what is on the market. They will also pay attention to how to produce the most goods with the least cost, to increase profit.
Farmsteads produce food for the general public. They use their area to grow crops and raise animals. Farmsteads are classified as any operation that in a year produces at least $1,000 in agricultural goods. Their purpose is to generate income from the animals and crops that are produced.
Farmsteads can produce one or more types of crops, and can also grow one or more types of animals, depending on the market. Farmsteads are commonly specialized in various fields of agriculture, such as crop, fish, milk, poultry, and meat industry.
What is a homestead?
Homestead’s purpose is to supply necessities to provide for a family. The main goal of a homestead is a self-sufficient lifestyle. Homesteads have an emphasis on the family and are dedicated to the simple production of plants and animals. Their primary goal isn’t to sell and gain profit from their goods, but the purpose of homesteading is to live off the land.
Homestead living sometimes also means going completely off-grid. This means that homesteaders will not use public utilities, such as electricity. Homesteaders like to rely on natural sources.
A lot of farmsteads pay attention to the property itself. They need to make sure the property will support their goals in the terms of production. The most crucial element for farmsteads is healthy soil. They will commonly test the texture, drainage, and depth. The soil is the main element in production. Without good and healthy soil, farmsteads cannot survive.
Farmsteads cultivate the land for agricultural production, while also breeding domestic animals. With that land and animals, they gain funds to make sure they continue producing. They rely on customers for financial support, by buying products, so they can buy equipment needed for growing plants and raising animals.
Modern farmsteads rely on machinery for work. Every farmstead is equipped with a tractor, combine harvester and baler. They get their energy mostly through solar panels, mounted on the roof. Their primary goal is profit. That means that farmsteads are oriented towards conventional farming methods. They do this by being sustainable and often creative in their farming ways.
Farmsteads will also specialize in a certain branch of agriculture; focusing on producing strictly wheat, corn, or cattle beef. That means if a farmstead is focused on only producing milk and dairy, it will only raise dairy cows and grow food for them. When a farmstead specializes, it means that they can operate only in that field, without additional cost.
Farmsteads also take a great time in planning. They focus on water supply, services, fire prevention, security, and overall space. They will put buildings with fire-resistant material. The most important buildings have an alarm for breaking. An important characteristic is many installed phones and radio units. Since farmsteads are very big, they need a channel for easy communication.
Usually, they have 4 zones for operating. The first zone in the family living zone includes a house, garage, parking, patio, and a garden. It must be supplied with drinking water for the family. The second zone is for machinery storage and service. It includes all the equipment used on the farmstead. These are the facilities that are the quietest and odor-free, located near the house.
A third zone is a place for grain handling and small animal buildings. This area holds barns, grain storage, and feed-processing equipment. The third zone is built far away from the house since it produces the most dust and noise.
Major livestock facilities are located in the fourth zone. That includes all the animals used for production, livestock, and poultry, and it also includes forage and silage storage. They are located the farthest from the house since they have tricky layout requirements.
Homesteads usually have a few cows and goats to provide enough milk and cheese for a family. Some homesteads even have a windmill to produce electricity. When operating a homestead, sometimes people will sell the excess of their products, usually to friends and neighbors, but it is not the main goal.
Homesteads take sustainability more seriously than farmsteads. They will use every potential of the land and its resources. Being as self-sufficient as possible is the most identifying characteristic of a homestead. Homesteads can have small gardens with a few types of vegetables and some chickens to contribute to the food they buy. But, the majority of homesteads raise food to completely feed an entire family. They do this by raising dairy cows, poultry, and vegetables to provide for the animals and them.
Generally, homesteads begin with growing only vegetables. After some time, they start to add animals, for example, chickens and cows. The size of a homestead depends on the land and the needs of a family. Homesteads do not require a certain amount of acreage.
Owners design their homestead property. The only thing they have to keep an eye on are the boundaries of a property. Owners usually map out the land and make sure they use every inch. Water, food, and energy are top priorities for a homestead. That is why most people try and buy land for a homestead near a pond or deep wells.
Differences between farmstead and homestead
Farmsteads work as a business. They are focused on producing, selling, and gaining profit. Homesteads are private properties, with a primary goal to provide for a family. Homesteads have the flexibility of choosing what to grow and raise. Farmsteads are focused on the sale, so they would grow crops and raise the animals that are popular on the market. This rule is especially relevant with specialized farmsteads that focus on producing, for example, only crops or milk.
Farmsteads are more expensive to buy and maintain because they need healthier soil. Homesteads can be built on average soil. Farmsteads need healthy soil to grow food, which they feed their animals and make sure they are healthy as well. For that reason, farmsteads pay more attention to the soil.
Since it only needs to support a family, homesteads are much smaller than farmsteads. The average size of a farm is 444 acres, according to the USDA. Workers on farmsteads are usually very educated, skilled, and experienced people.
Farmsteads need to have enough land to raise and breed domestic animals. On their property, they need to have separate places for plants, a place to hold their machinery, and a building for silage. Homesteads aren’t operating as a business, so they can have a fairly small property dedicated to homesteading. They do not need big facilities for livestock, since they usually don’t have that many animals.
Homesteads are much smaller and only work for themselves and they are allowed to make mistakes with minimum to none expense. Farmsteads live in a circle of producing, selling, and gaining profit. They must be very cautious to maintain that circle, meaning that major mistakes are not possible.
Also, a major difference is connecting to people. Farmstead’s center of attention is on customers. Considering they want to work as a business and have benefited from their production, they want to maintain relationships with buyers. Homesteaders frequently go off-grid, meaning they want to exclude themselves. They want to discontent with the popular world and live on their own.
Homesteaders build their life on the land. More commonly, farmsteaders live on the land they work on, but sometimes they will do the farming work on the land but live in another area. Homesteaders will also use non-traditional farming methods.