Department of Subsistence Homesteads

Interesting article at The Automatic Earth, by Joanna Bailey, about reviving a Depression-era New Deal program called the Department of Subsistence Homesteads:

“Between 1933 and 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal created thirty-four communities under the Division of Subsistence Homesteads (DSH). The DSH, funded at $25 million, pledged to organize pilot programs showing how the country could benefit from semirural neighborhoods with part-time farming.

Each project would be initiated at the state level and administered through a nonprofit corporation. Successful applicants would be offered a combination of part-time employment opportunities, fertile soil for part-time farming, and locations connected to the services of established cities. DSH director Milburn L. Wilson stated:

“A subsistence homestead denotes a house and out buildings located upon a plot of land on which can be grown a large portion of foodstuffs required by the homestead family. It signifies production for home consumption and not for commercial sale. In that it provides for subsistence alone, it carries with it the corollary that cash income must be drawn from some outside source. The central motive of the subsistence homestead program, therefore, is to demonstrate the economic value of a livelihood which combines part-time wage work and part-time gardening or farming…” “

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