Urban Homesteading With Dandelion Haven
Germaine says urban farming has become so influential in recent years because “Healthwise, it makes you conscious about everything you put in your body. If we’re not growing it, we have to go out and buy it. My standard for what I eat is really high now. A lot of friends invite us out for dinner and restaurant food doesn’t meet the standard for what we have in our own backyards. We read a lot of labels to know what’s included in store-bought food.”
Sustainable and organic living can seem like a desirable but impractical concept for many Americans. With inflation prices soaring and an unsteady economic outlook, can a healthy diet actually be associated with affordable family friendly fare?
In the years since 2020, “small space urban farming” has positively impacted our local region. When communities grow and rely upon their own produce, this not only proves a positive way to put food on the table, but is also a cost effective and rewarding hobby.
A local Buffalo couple has become synonymous with urban farming, and their social media presence on Instagram and YouTube continues to draw followers and growing interest every day. Germaine and Michelle Miller run Dandelion Haven, which is what they call their urban homestead and Instagram page. Their concept is “Live simple, grow food.” Their content is uniquely fun and approachable for both experts and those looking to try gardening for the first time.
Dandelion Haven’s posts illustrate advice that helps viewers develop basic skills to hone their green thumbs. This is surely a process that takes time and patience but is ultimately a gratifying one. Germaine says, “Michelle was born and raised in the City. She’s from New Jersey; I am from Buffalo,” and Germaine “caught the bug starting off with growing tomato plants from her apartment.”
Dandelion Haven’s how-to advice and approach developed from years of learned experience. During the pandemic, the pastime transformed and ultimately unintentionally found a platform on social media. Michelle and Germaine now encourage followers to incorporate urban farming into their practical everyday life to live a more organic and sustainable lifestyle.
Most Americans are forced to fork over hard-earned cash to buy fresh fruit and vegetables year-round, while the Millers are satisfied by taking ownership of their own produce for more reasons than one. There’s “a huge difference between what you get in the store and growing produce in your own backyard. It’s phenomenal. You can work one day and get free groceries,” says Michelle. By harvesting their own produce, in tandem with reaping the financial benefits, this experience has been an enriching life lesson for the Millers. Dandelion Haven shows how to master creatively using space to harvest and grow plants, vegetables, fruit, and become more independent. Thinking outside the box has always been part of Dandelion Haven’s innovative approach to many of their creations, recipes, and organic living.
On their Instagram page, you will find a catalog for how to preserve food, start a garden, produce your own natural resources, care for livestock, everything DIY, and an assortment of tasty and easy to follow traditional recipes.
Just in time for Spring, try their orange cleaner, safe from harmful chemicals and smelly perfumes, a concoction formulated only with citrus peels and white vinegar ideally allowed to sit for at least 30 days once combined. This cleaner is not abrasive and won’t harm pets or children. Also try Dandelion Haven’s easy recipes such as Basic Salsa and Simple Kombucha to save an expensive trip to the grocery store.
8 black tea bags
1 gallon of spring or filtered water
1 cup of sugar
1-2 cups of plain kombucha
Bring 1 quart of water to boil.
Turn off heat and add the teabags.
Cover the pot and allow to steep for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes remove the teabags and stir in the sugar and the rest of the water.
Allow to cool completely.
Pour into the container you will be using.
Add your SCOBY* and 1-2 cups of plain kombucha.
Cover with a cloth to protect from fruit flies, etc. and allow to sit and ferment for 1 to 3 weeks.
You can begin tasting the kombucha after about a week.
When the kombucha reaches the flavor you like, you can bottle and refrigerate it, reserving the SCOBY and 2 cups of liquid for your next batch of kombucha.
You also have the option at this point of flavoring the kombucha with fruit, vegetables, herbs or spices. To do so, add the preferred flavoring to your individual full containers of kombucha, put a lid on tightly and allow to sit for a few days to a week.
Once the taste is to your preference, strain and refrigerate.
*SCOBY is made up of lactic acid bacteria, acetic acid bacteria, and yeast. It serves an essential role in creating the delicious flavors and nutritional advantages of your favorite kombucha beverages.
2 cups of chopped tomatoes
½ cup of chopped onions
1 clove of finely chopped garlic
½ cup of chopped bell peppers
1 or 2 chopped jalapeño peppers
2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
¼ cup chopped cilantro or parsley
¼ teaspoon salt
dash black pepper
Place tomatoes in a strainer and allow them to drain for at least an hour.
Combine strained tomatoes with all other ingredients and mix thoroughly.
This is a good time to taste and see if you like the salsa as is or if you want to add more of one of the ingredients.
The best part about making salsa is you can make it to fit your taste buds.
If you prefer restaurant-style salsa you can put the salsa in a blender and pulse to your desired consistency.
Put in a covered container and refrigerate until ready to eat.