Building A “Harvest Kitchen” For Your Homestead

By: Tom Chatham

When a person decides to become self sufficient and provide their family with homemade goods they need to keep one thing in mind. Being self sufficient means your homestead will become, out of necessity, a small factory. For those with the means, there may be several specialized buildings on your property to handle all of the various types of production you require. For many people, especially those new to the self sufficient lifestyle, this may be more than you can handle financially in the beginning.

In constructing a new homestead it will probably be more convenient, if no necessary, to utilize your kitchen for most of your production projects. The kitchen of a typical home will usually fall far short of being ideal especially in space. Even if you start a homestead with an existing home on the property, you will probably want to expand the kitchen or even add on a “harvest kitchen” to provide the proper setting for all of your future chores.

A harvest kitchen is one designed especially for the production of homemade goods. It provides plenty of counter space, cabinet space and room to store and utilize all of the specialized equipment you will need. It will have window space for starting seedlings, sinks for washing equipment and vegetables, storage for canning supplies and tables to perform more than one task at a time.

The amount of home production you plan to do will determine how large your kitchen will need to be. When you start listing all of the things you want to ultimately do you may be surprised at the size of the list and the amount of space you will need. Most people start with a conventional kitchen and try to adjust their operations around the space available. This may be necessary at first but eventually it will become a headache when you have to continuously move and reposition equipment before performing even menial jobs.

This is why a harvest kitchen will become important to you. You must first list all of the operations you intend to do in your kitchen when you have fully expanded your homestead operations. Then determine how much room you will need for each piece of equipment and design the kitchen around your needs. The design should allow for an easy flow around your kitchen while performing several jobs.

What equipment do you need to plan for? Are you going to extract honey? If so you need room for the extractor, uncapping tub and bottling tank. If you intend to butcher your own meat, a good butchers block will be invaluable. If you intend to grind your own meat, a meat grinder will need a place for easy use. If you plan to do a lot of canning, you will need plenty of counter space and easy access to the stove. If you plan to do a lot of baking, a large table with a large rolling board will be necessary. If you plan to grind grains and nuts you will need a place for your grinder. If you have a milk supply, you may need room for dairy equipment such as a cream separator, butter churn or cheese making supplies. If you intend to make soap or candles you will need space for those as well. While some operations can use the same areas, you will want to give the larger equipment a space of its own.

As you can see, just a few of the things you may want to do will require much more space than the typical kitchen offers. Planning for the type of operations you will ultimately do and designing the kitchen around your needs will ultimately make you more productive and the process will be more enjoyable. The addition of a harvest kitchen may not be possible at first but for any serious homesteader it should be part of your long range plans.

If your kitchen is to be an addition to a current structure you may even want to do something to enhance the design further such as put a root cellar under it or add a small greenhouse to it. If the harvest kitchen has a wood cook stove, it can provide the heat needed for the greenhouse during cold weather allowing you to start plants earlier or even grow some warm weather plants in the winter. A root cellar under the kitchen will allow you to process and store your harvest for winter storage and go shopping even in the worst winter weather. To make movement of products easier, you may even want to install a dumb waiter between the cellar and kitchen. The possibilities are endless.

A large kitchen will be a focal point during harvest season allowing the space necessary to bring the whole family together for processing and quality time that can be shared by everyone. The warmth radiated by a wood stove and the smell of freshly baked goods will make your harvest kitchen a favorite place to congregate during the dark, cold days of winter. Having the proper amount of space to perform operations will make kitchen tasks much more enjoyable and help to produce quality products that your family will enjoy the year round.


Posted on February 26, 2013, in Preparedness and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Yep….right on the same page.

    Did this a couple years back. We have a large kitchen already that we’ve used as our harvest kitchen for 20 years, and were getting ready to remodel it completely ( down to the studs ). I kept trying to figure a way to get a wood cook stove in the mix, but with the floor above the kitchen area, and limited outside wall, I simply couldn’t get a chimney in for wood.

    So, my solution was to go out the back wall of the garage, adding a 12×22′ area on it with a pair of double doors between the new kitchen addition and the garage. ( Garage is attached to the existing kitchen, so it’s a short walk on the same level between the two ) (+ we don’t have the disadvantage of building codes here, so I can, and do, pretty much do anything I want )

    In the new “man cave” as my wife calls it, I put a flue on the outside wall of it for a wood stove, obtained a nice 2 compartment sink (used, Craigslist), and built the cabinets. Also tiled the floors w/floor drain, and tiled the walls up to 4′. Put a 30 gal water heater out there just to supply the kitchen, and have a hot water rated hose connected to it so I can hose the entire room down with hot water. We keep a light commercial vacuum sealer machine set up on the counter all the time, and take anything we need to seal out there. ( Weston brand sealer ).

    I also took up 7′ of the 22′ length, divided that in half ( the 12′ ) and built a nice floor to ceiling U shelved pantry, and a walk-in cooler using a commercial cooler door (Craigslist again), and dual layers of 2″ foam on the walls with white fiberglass panels to finish. Mounted a four hanging hooks in the ceiling so I can hang four quarters of a beef, or 2 hogs or deer split in halves. (9′ ceiling).

    For cooling, I use a wall mounted 12,000 BTU window AC unit (Craigslist) and a “CoolBot” controller so the AC unit will take the cooler down to 34 degrees ( Normal window AC will cut off at about 65 degrees if you can’t over ride the thermostat, which is what the CoolBot does ).

    With the walk in now, we no longer take our cow or pigs or deer to a commercial processor…..doing it at home now. Bought a stainless table (CL) to work on, and a good set of knives/butcher saws. Only time the cooler runs is when we have meat to process, so most of the year it sits unused, but it sure is handy not to be dependent on Mother Nature for natural cooling.

    • It sounds like you have a great setup Andy. I think as things continue to deteriorate more people will see the need for this type of setup. When you have a good layout it’s actually fun to process foods at home.

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