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Homesteading or Back to the Farm

Read about going back to the basics in these memoirs or pick up a guide to doing it yourself.

Selected Books

Brende, Eric
Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology
HM846.B74 2004
As a graduate student at MIT, Brende was disenchanted with the stresses of technology so he and his wife moved to a mixed community of Amish, Mennonites, and outsiders, ("Minimites") leaving behind electricity, plumbing, and everything else "hooked on the grid," for 18 months.
Brown, Dona
Back to the Land: The Enduring Dream of Self-Sufficiency in Modern America
HT381.B76 2011
Americans have been dreaming of returning to the land ever since they started to leave it. In Back to the Land, Dona Brown explores the history of this recurring impulse.
FoxFire Books
"Foxfire" is the name of a series of books which are anthology collections of material from The Foxfire Magazine. Foxfire Magazine was begun in 1966 by a high school English class to collect stories and interviews about country living gathered from elders in their rural southern Appalachian community. It was named "foxfire" after the glow of bioluminescent fungi that grow on rotting wood in damp forests.
Gussow, Joan Dye
This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader
SB324.3.G87 2001
Gussow was a nutrition professor at Columbia University who wrote about the dangers of food globalization in The Feeding Web in 1978. When she retired she moved to a town on the Hudson River where she tried to put her local food beliefs into practice.
Hubbell, Sue
A Country Year: Living the Questions
QH105.M8 H83 1986
When her thirty-year marriage broke up, Sue Hubbell found herself alone and broke on a small Ozarks farm. Keeping bees, she found solace in the natural world. She began to write and the result is one of the best-loved books ever written about life on the land, about a woman finding her way in middle age.
Kimball, Kristin
The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love
S605.5.K563 2010x
Kimball quits her job as a Manhattan journalist and moves to upstate New York to work on a sustainable farm with her fiance. They decided to "live outside of the river of consumption" and their life there is tracked through the seasons.
Kingsolver, Barbara
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life
S521.5.A67 K56 2007
Novelist Barbara Kingsolver and her family move from Tucson, Arizona to rural Virginia and vow to buy only food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it. Amusing and informative with a website for downloading recipes. It is also available for downloading as an eBook.
Minato, Amy
Siesta Lane: One Cabin, No Running Water, and a Year Living Green
HX655.O7 M56 2009
Minato is a poet, writer and teacher based in the Pacific Northwest, and she has written this account of her experiences in a "back-to-nature" community in Oregon where she spent a year without electricity, running water, cell phones or the Internet.
Niemann, Deborah
Homegrown & Handmade: A Practical Guide to More Self-Reliant Living
GF78.N54 2011x
Deborah Niemann is a homesteader, writer, and self-sufficiency expert who presents extensively on topics including soapmaking, bread baking, cheesemaking, composting, and homeschooling. She and her family raise sheep, pigs, cattle, goats, chickens, and turkeys for meat, eggs, and dairy products, while an organic garden and orchard provides fruit and vegetables.
Sheasley, Bob
Home to Roost: A Backyard Farmer Chases Chickens Through the Ages
SF487.3.S54 2008
Each day, Bob Sheasley leaves Lilyfield Farm and heads into the city with a basket of eggs for his coworkers at The Philadelphia Inquirer. In Home to Roost, Sheasley tells of the intertwined relationship between humans and chickens, about how modern farming has changed the lives of both bird and man over the past century. Backyard farmers like Sheasley offer hope for a return to the pleasures of locally grown food.
Ward, Logan
See You in a Hundred Years: Four Seasons in Forgotten America
F232.S5 W27 2006
Adventure travel writer Ward (An Explorer's Guide to the Field Museum) and his lawyer wife and two-year-old son, left high-pressure New York City and moved to a Virginia farm to live (as much as possible) as they would have lived in 1900. The community was Swoope, also home to Polyface Farms highlighted in the Omnivore's Dilemma.

Web Sites

  • Grit Magazine
    GRIT is a bi-monthly magazine that celebrates country lifestyles of all kinds, while emphasizing the importance of community and stewardship.
  • Mother Earth News: Modern Homesteading
    Mother Earth News offers many articles on doing things yourself, raising crops and livestock.
  • Tiny Farm Blog
    Tiny Farm Blog is one day to the next on a small organic farm in southern Ontario, Canada (Zone 4).

Pittsburgh / Pennsylvania

  • Jolico Farm Blog
    A sometimes weekly blog about life on a solar and wind-powered Pennsylvania farm

Nearby States

  • Lehman's
    Located 118 miles from Pittsburgh in Kidron, Ohio (near Canton), Lehman's originally served the surrounding Amish community but eventually went into catalog sales and then to an online store. Read more about it in this October 14, 2009 article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. It includes many goods for sustainable living.