MOTHER's Self-Sufficient Homestead

A varied, productive self-sufficient homestead is rapidly evolving around our $10-per-square-foot house.

| March/April 1985

self sufficient homestead - greenhouse exterior

Exterior of the greenhouse.


Just about two years ago, MOTHER EARTH NEWS' EcoVillage researchers took on a pretty ambitious project: to develop an acre of land into a largely food and energy self-sufficient homestead, and to do so for as little money as possible. In the early articles about the project, we spoke fleetingly about the permaculture concepts we had in mind and described the lowcost earth shelter we built as a residence.

A lot has happened to the project in the last two years. The $10-per-square-foot home has now been finished and occupied for two winters, and quite a bit of food was grown during the 1984 season. But, as anyone who has a homestead knows, dreamed-of goals and everyday progress are often two very different things.

Though it's sometimes frustrating to be limited by the number of daylight hours available (and by having to sleep through some of the dark ones), a project of this sort can suffer from too much haste. When restoring a moonscape (as we called the denuded site before work started), you've got to pause to see how things are working. Any attempt to establish a cooperative natural system of various plants and animals that isn't accompanied by continual revamping is destined to fail. Permaculture practice is largely a matter of arranging fortuitous and felicitous interactions, many of which you just can't anticipate. The trick is to notice the successes and capitalize on them.

Consequently, despite all we've accomplished, this is in no way a final report. There's a long way to go; in fact, some of our steps will have to be taken over again. But as we approach the second full growing season on the property, we've found it necessary to review what we've done and to refine our concept of where we're going. This article is a summation of those musings and a report on the latest piece of construction: the greenhouse.

7/17/2013 5:42:14 PM


I’m casting for a new TV series. I'm looking for groups of enterprising friends and families who are considering moving to a rural or off-grid area together. This is for a new prime time documentary television show. We are especially interested strong, smart women who are leading their families on this journey. 

I've got a casting notice I'd love to have you share with your readers because I’m sure many of them look to you for inspiration. There will be compensation for anyone selected for the show. Is this something you would be able to help with? If so what is the procedure? 



Darshir Brewington 
Twofour America