What is Urban Homesteading and What am I Allowed to do in Asheville?

What was once a quintessential Western North Carolina lifestyle out of necessity is now a modern lifestyle out of choice. The growing homesteading community is shunning thoughtless consumerism and resource use for a new—or, rather, old—tradition: one of self-sufficiency and measured land use. Even if you’re not a capital-H “homesteader,” you may be practicing one or several common homesteading practices.

But just what is homesteading (and urban homesteading specifically) and what practices are allowed in Asheville?

What is Urban Homesteading and What am I Allowed to do in Asheville?

What is Urban Homesteading?

Urban homesteading is the process of engaging in a simple, self-reliant lifestyle by living in a more environmentally conscious manner. Urban homesteaders choose to grow or raise a significant portion of their food and reduce consumption of outside resources, all while maintaining the proximity benefits of an urban location and lifestyle. Aspects of urban homesteading include:

  • Energy and waste reduction through solar/alternative energy sources, utilization of rainwater and greywater, composting, and taking alternative transportation.
  • Raising livestock and other animals, including chickens, goats, rabbits, and bees.
  • Edible and native landscaping including fruit and nut trees, vegetables, and culinary or medicinal plants.
  • Self-sufficient living through recycling and upcycling, food production and preservation, and creating homemade products.

According to Wikipedia, “Urban homesteading is associated with urban agriculture. Urban Homesteading can also be referred to as Backyard Homesteading and Hobby Farming.”

What are North Carolina’s Homestead Laws?

Many states have “homestead protections” on the books to prevent homelessness in the face of financial loss. These protections were originally intended to protect families from losing their farms and now allow homeowners to declare a limited portion of their property as a homestead. This declaration, in turn, spares the property from creditors in the event of a bankruptcy or other financial hardship.

Unlike most states, North Carolina’s homestead laws do not specify an acreage limit. Instead, the state places a cap on land value, allowing a maximum of $1,000 worth of property to be declared a homestead.

What Urban Homesteading Options are Allowed in Asheville?

As you can imagine, not every neighborhood, HOA, or township allows certain aspects of urban homesteading—especially where livestock and wastewater are concerned. Before you begin your practices, consult community leaders or reach out to your Beverly-Hanks agent for help. However, the City of Asheville facilitates aspects of the homesteading lifestyle in many ways.

In Asheville, residents only recently petitioned for the relaxation of city restrictions for keeping chickens. Today, the City of Asheville’s Animal Services Unit requires residents to get a permit if they wish to keep 7 or more animals. Permits are also required for all residents wishing to keep bees, fowl, or livestock, including goats, horses, ponies, and exotic pets. Once permits are secured, residents are allowed to keep coops no less than 10 feet from neighboring property lines.

More than 25% of residential waste in the Asheville area is compostable material. Asheville does not allow garden waste, grass clippings, or brush and leaf debris in their garbage collection bins. However, they do coordinate a bi-weekly brush collection. Several feasibility studies are also currently underway to assess the possibilities of a city-wide curbside composting service. In the meantime, there are a number of pickup and drop-off composting services in the area or you can explore composting at home.

The state of North Carolina has strict rules about greywater. Defined by the North Carolina Plumbing Code as “waste discharged from lavatories, bathtubs, showers, clothes washers, and laundry sinks,” greywater is treated like sewage by the state. However, many people prefer to conserve water use by reusing greywater to irrigate inedible plants or for flushing toilets. To that end, the state permits treated household greywater for use if treated according to Code Standards.

Learn More and Begin Your Homesteading Lifestyle in WNC Today:

Whether you’re serious about beginning your WNC homesteading lifestyle or you’re just curious about learning more, the following links can help you on your journey:

NC Cooperative Extension Service (choose your county) – ces.ncsu.edu/local-county-center

Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center – mountainhort.ncsu.edu

Western North Carolina Agricultural Center (check their calendar for upcoming events) – wncagcenter.org

North Carolina Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory System (for questions regarding raising livestock) – ncagr.gov/vet/ncvdl

VILLAGERS (West Asheville, urban homesteading supplies and classes) – forvillagers.com

Asheville Greenworks (Asheville-Area recycling and waste reduction information) – ashevillegreenworks.org


All real estate is local. In order to make confident real estate decisions, we believe it is important for you to have timely and neighborhood-specific information. If you would like more information about urban homesteading in WNC, our experts at Beverly-Hanks are here to help. Contact us today to speak with a Beverly-Hanks real estate agent about buying homes and land in Western North Carolina.



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