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 has 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.
Although today there are now multiple institutions offering sustainability education, IUH remains one of the first, with the longest history and a solid reputation.