Mother Earth News Fair

Our FAIRS bring living wisely to life with hands-on workshops in organic gardening, country skills, renewable energy and more.

Add to My MSN

We Are What We Read

2/15/2013 8:52:16 AM

Tags: Guest post, Seven Springs 2012, modern homesteading, top 10, recommended reading, Barbara Heller and Rebecca Heller-Steinberg

Our family was recently honored in Mother Earth News (Aug/Sept 2012) as Homesteaders of the Year. Being avid readers, this occasion has us reflecting on some of the books that have most influenced our values and lifestyles over the years. We’ve borrowed library books and amassed a family reference library on a variety of topics including gardening, frugality and simplicity, crafts, food preparation and preservation, and spirituality. We’ve collected a range of plant and animal identification books as well as ones filled with naturalists musings.

We believe that connecting with a community of people working on similar goals and projects is important but that good books can often fill the role of a friend or mentor when a real one isn't around. Books have taught us new things, challenged us to go beyond what we already knew, inspired us, and sometimes purely entertained us.

As I, Barbara, wrote in my Mother Earth News nomination, my husband Alan’s first gift to me was Helen and Scott Nearing’s Living the Good Life. This classic, subtitled how to Live Sanely and Simply in a Troubled World, was the first book that popularized a back-to-the-land lifestyle.

The books we turn to regularly have changed, although some we go back to again and again, year after year. It was difficult to trim our list and so we are leaving out many favorites. We decided to include both some oldies and some newer books, especially ones that influenced Rebecca in her urban homesteading. Many books on this short list you may recognize as classics, while others hopefully are new to you.

We hope we can inspire you to pick up a new book or revisit an old standby for education or entertainment. And we’d like to hear about your favorites and suggestions.

Our Top 10

1. The Good Life by Helen and Scott Nearing – As mentioned, the original back-to-the-land manifesto.

2. The Whole Earth Catalog edited by Stewart Brand – Originally published annually in the late 1960s through the early 1970s; a helpful and almost-overwhelming compendium of counterculture resources.

3. Four Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman – Coleman is both respectful of tradition (where respect is truly due) and not afraid to challenge conventional farming and gardening techniques, making this season extension book one you'll turn to again and again for gardening techniques and solutions, new and old. (His Winter Harvest Handbook builds upon and adds to the information presented in this book, with more of a focus on production for market).

4. Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin – The authors created an inspirational 9-step program focusing on the difference between ‘making a living’ and making a life and computing how much life energy we use to consume products and services.

5. The Wisdom of No Escape by Pema Chodron – The go-to spiritual reference book in our family,  with short, easily digestible chapters, simple meditation instructions, and a down-to-earth approach to Buddhist philosophy that makes it accessible to people from all walks of life.

6. The Resilient Gardener by Carol Deppe – This is probably the gardening book that I, Rebecca, currently go back to most often, with lots of brand new to me, useful information, much of which I haven't found in other sources.

7. The One-Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukouka – While this book from a Japanese farmer doesn't contain much hands-on advice, it presents a unique philosophy of farming in a more natural way, honed over decades of trial, error, and observation of the natural world.

8. Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter – Well-written, humorous, and hopeful but realistic about the challenges of urban farming, this excellent book was one of the first to expose us to the concept of farming in the city.

9. Toolbox for Sustainable City Living by Scott Kellogg and Stacy Pettigrew – An excellent inspiration and reference for city dwellers interested in building a more sustainable life, including info on DIY aquaponics and greywater systems.

10. Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz – Part cultural history, part cookbook, this amazing book is the next best thing to having a friend or relative in the kitchen guiding you through the steps of fermentation, gently encouraging you, and giving you the courage to experiment.

Barbara Heller and Rebecca Heller-Steinberg presented a workshop at the 2012 Pennsylvania MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR. 

Please visit the FAIR website for more information about future FAIRs: June 1-2 in Puyallup, Wash., Sept. 20-22 in Seven Springs, Pa., and Oct. 12-13 in Lawrence, Kan. Tickets are on sale now. 

You can also get FAIR updates on our Facebook and Twitter pages. 



Related Content

Modern Homesteading Treasures

For inspiration and education, take some time to peruse the hundreds of Modern Homesteading articles...

How to Pick a Chicken Breed

Did attending the Fair make you want to go out back and start building a chicken coop? If you've got...

We Can Do Better Than This

Change is not only possible, it’s inevitable. Within the next few decades, great change is coming, b...

The Most Important Four Inches In Your Garden

Cam describes "double digging" as a way of creating a new garden without losing precious topsoil.

Content Tools




Post a comment below.

 







Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.