About the School

Our mission is to:

Offer affordable classes in the art of living sustainably and self-sufficiently in an urban environment

Help students forge connections with their food supply, their community, and the natural environment

Inspire and enable a slower, more intentional, more sustainable lifestyle

Empower students and communities by promoting self-determination, self-learning, and self-reliance

Revive the lost arts of the garden, the kitchen, and things done by hand through the teaching of heirloom skills and traditional homesteading crafts

IUH was created in a response to the increasing public interest in food security, localization, and self-sufficiency. The school is part of the global movement to change our relationship to food and resources, and also serves the widespread desire to reclaim our roots in the home and garden.  We strive to make a sustainable, homegrown lifestyle accessible to everyone.

The school is committed to skill sharing and non-hierarchical structures.  Our goal is to give you the knowledge and hands-on experience to get started on your own right away.  We may not have the answers to every question, but we will work with you to discover how to get them. Your own knowledge and information is welcome at every class.

At IUH we believe that education is an important vehicle for changing ourselves and the world.  The school is a direct result of deep inquiry into activism and how to best change the way we live in this country. We believe that people who are self-reliant, self-sufficient, and who know how to live in balance with their environment- whether urban or rural- are essential to that change.

So please come on down to our kitchen, garden, and workshop to learn with us and teach us. Let’s make friends, grow food, and expand the urban knowledge base!

Agitate, Educate, Pollinate!

IUH classes take place in the private homes and gardens of our instructors or at other community homestead sites. We are locally based and most classes are in Oakland or Berkeley, with just a few classes in outlying areas (Marin, Alameda, El Sobrante). 

While there are some drawbacks to not having a permanent physical location, there are also many benefits. First we know that you, our potential student, are curious to see how active homesteaders create sustainable spaces in the city. Being invited into our instructors’ home or garden is one way they can teach by example and show you what is possible. Teachers also get to teach in an environment that is familiar and comfortable, which in turn creates a kind of intimate learning not available in a classroom. Finally, not paying rent for a physical location allows us to keep our class fees low while still paying teachers reasonably for their effort. 

Because you will be attending a class in a private home, we ask your tolerance and openness to people’s differing aesthetic preferences and lifestyles. We do choose teachers in part based on the appropriateness of their site, but do understand we may not be able to please everyone and some sites are better suited than others for the purpose of teaching a class. We strive to make sure you can sit comfortably and be safe in every class location. If you ever feel a site was absolutely inappropriate, please let us know. 

For the protection of our instructors’ privacy we do not publish their addresses on the web and we do require pre-registration for all classes. The approximate location of each class is included in the class description and the exact location is sent to you in an email after registering for the class.

The Institute of Urban Homesteading was founded by K.Ruby Blume in 2008 as a response to the increasing public interest in food security, localization, and self-sufficiency.  Prior to this Ms. Blume had founded and directed Wise Fool Puppet Intervention, an art-for-social-change project that brought giant puppets and stilts to the street.  After 10 years of solid action, she was burnt out and tired of never ending buckets of wheatpaste and paper mache.  She took some time off to follow her passions, which turned out to be honing her gardening skills, taking classes in plant medicine, botany and permaculture.  Someone dropped off a box of bees at her house and she started beekeeping.  Beekeeping and gardening lead to canning, fermenting, brewing and cheesemaking.  Soon friends and family began to ask when she would teach them what she was learning. Having been in a deep process of inquiry about how she might best impact change, Ms. Blume decided that skills-based education was the way. She printed up a fancy postcard, opened a bank account and ran a press campaign.  Boom!

That first year was a smash success.  Homesteading as an urban reclamation phenomenon was brand new and the press campaign resulted in dozens of articles.  From 2008-2016,  Blume ran and developed the school, gaining it’s present reputation for high quality educational experiences and responsive, flexible, and personal customer service.  The school offered as many as 80 short classes per year from up to 25 different instructors, a broad and varied curriculum, community events, book signings, farm tours, a monthly newsletter, internship program and more.

After 10 solid years of running the school,  Blume began to wonder what was next.  An urban farm on a 10th of an acre is a wonderful thing, but she felt she was outgrowing her urban space and her role as founder and director of IUH. Starting with a sabbatical in the summer of 2015, Blume began to think of handing over the reins and  searching  for a more rural life. Enter Ms. Becca Wetherby, local homesteader and longtime IUH student, who took over the role of director of IUH in 2017.  

Ms. Wetherby previously worked for several years as a biologist and over a decade in the veterinary field. Wetherby has extensive animal husbandry and veterinary nursing experience, having worked with companion animals, farm animals, wildlife, and zoo animals in settings as diverse as veterinary emergency rooms to the world’s largest hospital for falcons and birds of prey. With an educational background in both art and science, Ms. Wetherby has always been both a maker and learner- equally passionate about understanding the hows and whys of biological processes, as she is about approaching everyday tasks with artfulness, creativity, and intention. These passions naturally led her into the garden and kitchen…  After five years of classes at IUH – as well as countless successful and failed backyard and countertop experiments- Wetherby carved out her own tiny but productive urban homestead (with a garden, bees, chickens, rabbits, and many bubbling fermentation projects) on her small Oakland lot.  

Ms. Wetherby is thrilled and honored to carry on Ms. Blume’s work and ensure IUH continues carrying out its mission.  She is deeply invested in empowering communities to reconnect to their food sources and to rediscover a sustainable, self-reliant lifestyle. IUH will continue to offer the same core classes with most of the same instructors (including founder, Ms. Blume), but keep an eye out for some exciting new classes on the horizon as the school continues to grow. New blood and a new website have reinvigorated the school and keep it solidly situated in the East Bay urban landscape. Although today there are now multiple institutions offering sustainability education, IUH remains one of the first, with the longest history and a solid reputation. 

The Institute of Urban Homesteading

Featuring small class sizes and experiential learning, IUH offers the best in Bay Area sustainability and urban farming education with classes in gardening, urban animal husbandry, food preservation, brewcraft, foraging, fermenting, and much much more!

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