Community-Building and Self-Reliance: Our 2013 Homesteaders of the Year

The 2013 MOTHER EARTH NEWS Homesteaders of the Year believe in learning by doing, and open their homes and farms to teach modern homesteading skills and promote community-building.


| August/September 2013



Deer Isle Hostel

This off-grid timber frame house overlooks the garden at Deer Isle Hostel, an environmentally conscious hostel located on Deer Isle, Maine.


Photo By Anneli Carter-Sundqvist

The MOTHER EARTH NEWS 2013 Homesteaders of the Year embody the learning-by-doing ethos by providing opportunities for others to adopt new self-reliance skills through hands-on experience. These six homesteading families are dedicated to community-building — they open their doors to share the fruits of their labors and the knowledge needed to complete those labors. Through workshares in community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs and on-farm workshops, these families inspire their neighbors by giving them an example of modern homesteading in action.

Our second annual call for nominations of modern homesteaders was met with a response nearly double the number from last year (Our 2012 Homesteaders of the Year: Living the Good Life Through Modern Homesteading, August/September 2012). To select our finalists, we eagerly paged through stories of plowing with draft animals, photos of solar panels soaking up rays, and lists of traits that make each nominee special. (Read more amazing nominations at Star Modern Homesteaders.) Now, we proudly present the stories of our 2013 winners!

International Homesteading Education Month

To encourage hands-on learning and skill-sharing, MOTHER EARTH NEWS and Grit magazines are again coordinating International Homesteading Education Month this September. Our goal is to foster “Neighbors helping neighbors — building more self-reliant communities.” Sign up as an event host or as a speaker, and peruse our event listing to find out the happenings in your area.

Hostel With a Positive Impact

Traveling is typically a big drain on environmental resources. But on Deer Isle, Maine, Anneli Carter-Sundqvist and Dennis Carter operate a homestead hostel that doesn’t just have a low environmental impact, but strives to have a positive impact on the property and the hostel’s guests.

Anneli and Dennis have chosen to minimize their outside spending in order to cut back the cash income they require. The couple supplements the income from the hostel by selling surplus homegrown garlic and shiitake mushrooms. They live on the homestead year-round and open Deer Isle Hostel to guests during summer. Anneli estimates that about 300 people stayed at the hostel last season.

Deer Isle Hostel practices a high level of self-sufficiency. Anneli and Dennis rely on a small-scale solar-electric system, which keeps them off-grid, to power a few devices and to charge guests’ cell phones. The couple grows food and preserves it without using a refrigerator or freezer, relying on cold frames, a root cellar, home canning and fermentation. They keep chickens, raise and butcher pigs, and trade for goat cheese. (Follow their adventures in Anneli’s blog posts on our website.)





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