Small Town America
Watch this short video to hear how bicycle travel can save small town America.
Help us find the small U.S. towns and cities that are getting it right for citizens and the environment.
A surprising number of amenities found in a small town complete with western hospitality.
Reasons why we like to shop at our local grocery.
As the economy improves, the trend toward smaller homes is reversing.
What we have found as an advantage of having a rural hardware store close by.
Looking at the differences between the current homesteading movement in the USA compared to Smallholders in the UK.
How the small town atmosphere can enhance your homesteading and living.
Americans are turning to smaller, affordable housing. Natural Home editor-in-chief Robyn Griggs Lawrence looks into this trend.
A proper tea house is a luxury I believe in.
Smallholder farmers around the world have practiced traditional, subsistence farming for as long as farming has been around. Using manure as a natural fertilizer can make the difference between barely scraping by and growing enough to earn an income.
Ed and Joan Kobrinski left a large family home for a smaller, simpler cottage—and they’ve never looked back. Their tips for downsizing and living in smaller spaces could help make your transition easier.
Empty nesters Ed and Joan Kobrinski downsized their lifestyle and moved to a smaller home where they could grow more vegetables. "We've learned to enjoy and appreciate living comfortably and contentedly with less," Ed says.
After a tree crushed the back of their shotgun home (while 40 Hurricane Katrina refugees were camped out there), a Baton Rouge couple rebuilt a green, energy-efficient house that encourages connection with their neighborhood's "front porch" culture.
A cheap plastic pin reveals allies on Capitol Hill.
The American College of Healthcare Sciences and Apothecary Shoppe have been re-certified as Green America Gold-Certified businesses.
Four proposed climate bills on the Senate's table for July, and they will probably form one combined bill. Learn about the proposed laws that could affect you and your children for years to come, and voice your concerns to your Senators.
Walk this way, to support the revitalization of a pedestrian-friendly America.
EZ Tomato Cages are collapsible and sturdy unlike many currently on the market.
If you have ever thought about beekeeping photography then this article is perfect. Geoff Fitzgerald talks about his motivation for the topic and what got him started on the rooftops of Brooklyn. There are also some fantastic urban beekeeping photos.
American Farmland Trust will be holding the Farmland, Food and Livable Communities Conference October 20-22, in Lexington, Kentucky.
'Papago' beans are hard to find, especially when their name changed in the 1980s.
Cheap imported goods do not stand the test of time compared to locally crafted goods.
This ancient beverage has provided a nutritious, naturally-caffeinated boost for centuries and a new carbon-subtracting brand benefits the earth and consumers alike.
America's Best Organics introduces American-made gift box.
Yanmar announces new utility tractor in the Lx HST Series.
Small northern Canadian company produces beautiful artisan glassware from recycled bottles and jars.
The American Institute of Architect’s Home Design Trends Survey confirmed what Natural Home predicted in January—Americans are moving to smaller homes.
To satisfy today's home buyer, a developer of million-dollar luxury homes in New York is offering smaller, more affordable houses--more anecdotal evidence that the McMansion is dying.
Builders and designers believe that low-e windows, engineered wood products and eat-in kitchens will be key characteristics of new homes in the future.
There are many beekeeping associations in the U.S., national, regional and local. The two National Groups are discussed, looking at members, activities and goals.
So, I separated my bicycle gear for the cross-country cycling trip into two piles: needed, and nice. The needed items came in at 43 pounds. I will be traveling through towns almost everyday so replenishing items like soap, insect repellant, sun tan lotion, first aid items, bicycle parts, and personal hygiene should be easy. With this in mind I drastically reduced the quantity and different types of consumables: 37.8 pounds.
My friend Tom and I arrived in the USA on June 13th, ready to start the biggest cycle of our lives. It didn't start smoothly. We have completed 361 miles to date after 7 days of cycling, this is pretty much bang on schedule which is a good position to be in for the Trans-America cycling tour.
The tall-tale vintage postcard collection consists of turn of the century photomontages depicting the utopian dream of agricultural America.
Try this Lemongrass Semifreddo Recipe and relish an Italian dessert similar to a delicious, rich frozen mousse.
Leaders from America Bikes impress top transportation official with compelling new data on job creation and popular demand for active street design.
I am new to America, and new to the suburbs, having previously lived in rural Australia. I now live in suburban Indiana. During the past two years I have been trying to set up an "urban homestead" for our family. The neighbors are curious and amused.
Branded as smarter capitalism, the Petition for a Green Recovery seeks a new kind of environmental policy to green America. Using financial incentives, this idea plans to create a marketplace that takes into account environmental and social costs while increasing the green jobs sector.
If you missed it, be sure to check out this great informative interview with John Burke of MSi Green Lighting LED Company. They are lighting it green in Macy’s and saving them millions!! They use Cree LED diodes in their bulbs and proprietary tech.
A National Association of Home Builders report and a Better Homes and Gardens survey find that builders and homeowners are moving toward smaller, more energy-efficient homes.
Hiking The Ozarks' Lost Valley - Where getting lost is part of the fun! By Mike McArthy of Photozarks
Living in a community that has those who served in the armed forces and make good neighbors.
Spending a day having fun prospecting for gold, enjoying the outdoors, exploring a ghost town and the high mountains.
A Texas family searches for a suitable crop as supplemental income on four acres. After watermelons and flower fail, they succeed with luffa.
Homeowners want energy-efficient features and functional rooms that will expand on small homes’ square footage, according to a recent American Institute of Architects report.Homeowners want energy-efficient features and functional rooms that will expand on small homes’ square footage, says an American Institute of Architects report.
Living luxuriously doesn’t necessarily mean living large — at least not in these homes — and reducing a little waste doesn’t hurt, either.
Sayra and Dominic live with their 5-year-old daughter in a charming 550-square-foot home in rural Idaho. There are challenges, but they've found that less really is more. "It's like living in a fun clubhouse," Sayra says.
A new report from the League of American Bicyclists finds women cyclists now make up 60 percent of U.S. bike owners between the ages of 18 and 27.
Puhwem Native American corn was the mother corn of native people. It's one of the best corns for making corn flour.
Sixteen states have banned the sale of dishwasher detergents with high phosphate levels, and the American Cleaning Institute has urged its members to remove them.
Borrowing from a Native American tradition, utilize porcupine quills to make beautiful beads.
For centuries social and international conflicts have been spurred by contrasts in one group's sense of tribal identity (whether cultural, ethnic or geographic) versus another's. This same conflict plays out today in the United States for those members of American society who, thus far, have been unable to recognize President Obama as part of their tribe. Bryan Welch argues that Obama, in fact, epitomizes the key characteristics of the modern American tribe.
The fields that were laid out in 1843 for livestock farming are teeming with hay-making grasses.
Katie and Martin Clemons are resetting their priorities as they settle happily into a 480-square-foot apartment in Berlin. “Living smaller has taught us to live more simply,” Katie says. They bike more, shower less and enjoy their good life.
I’ve learned that gardening in small spaces can be challenging, but I’ve had great success with a Topsy Turvy tomato planter this year. Have you used similar products in your home? How do you handle gardening in small spaces?
This unusual water-powered clock from Bedol is powered by salt and water.
Diana and Tony Varnes are the happiest they’ve ever been, and they attribute their well being to living in a small home. They have more time for reading, talking and enjoying the outdoors—and their relationship is better than ever.
The Bedol water-and-salt-powered clock runs for six months on a teaspoon of salt.
Fracking, buying American, GMOs and unplugging topped the green news this week.
It is hard to believe but after more than 20 years of successful federal investment in biking and walking facilities, Congressional leaders are poised to eliminate dedicated funding for biking and walking.
Last year, more than 30,000 Americans participated in the National Bike Challenge and rode more than 12 million miles. This year, the League of American Bicyclists wants to know if riders are ready for a bigger challenge.
Instructional videos from the League of American Bicyclists provide basic bicycle safety tips.
I’ll let you in on a little secret; there is no PERFECT knife. Cutting tools are only as effective as the handler wielding them.
The Environmental Protection Agency is trying to cancel the use of carbofuran, but FMC Corporation stands in their way.
Robert Zwald grew up in the 1900s, farming with his father in Minnesota. This is part one of his stories from the past, as compiled by his daughter, Ruth.
The North American Solar Stores (NASS) network announces their nationally recognized solar store brand to meet the solar energy demands of today's alternative energy-aware consumers.
Advice on how to get the most tender and flavorful meat from your chickens.
Portland is the nation's most bike-friendly city, yet this Oregon community has had to deal with cycling disparities among its population. One nonprofit organization addressed this issue by developing new programs targeting low-income immigrant communities.
The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC) will be celebrating 35 years of success at their annual conference on November 9-10 in Cary, N.C. Whether you’re a hard core farmer or backyard hobbyist, the conference is sure to have something to ruffle your tail feathers.
The American Highland Cattle Association is funding a Highland beef research study on fatty acid profiles, tenderness of cooked steaks and sensory characteristics of Highland beef.
Land rich in biodiversity isn't just more productive than land planted with a single crop. It turns out that increased biodoversity also significantly effects the total "bioenergy" of the land, as well as its carbon footprint.
Apartment Therapy's annual Small Cool contest, featuring homes of less than 1,000 square feet, is a gold mine for smart ideas that make tiny spaces elegant, graceful and liveable.
Karen and Tony Tipsword's rehabbed 720-square-foot cabin allows them the freedom and independence to live their dream of running a campground. "Being happy does not mean a large home filled with things," Karen says.
How to flush a small engine and repair a clogged carburetor.
This year readers were concerned about bedbugs and greenwashing, and everyone wants to know more about smaller homes.
Small house builder Rich Daniels seeks to cluster 100 homes under 400 square feet in a former sawmill.
Follow these simple guidelines to make the most of your small space: contain clutter, find furnishings do double-duty, and make maximum use of color and light.
It's important to prepare your Micro Dairy or small farm for winter by making small improvements to your facilities. But it's also important to mentally prepare for the dark, cold months.
Shocked that nearly everything in their Dallas home was made overseas, a family starts over and furnishes their home only with items made in the USA. ABC News challenges everyone to take a pledge to purchase products made in America.
Tell America's largest chocolate company that slave labor and Valentine's Day chocolate don't mix.
Creating your own start-up is full of obstacles, but rewarding. MOTHER EARTH NEWS reader Jessica Vaughan shares advice from her experience as a first-time small business owner who teaches clients how to grow organic produce.
Katie and Martin Clemons share how they make super-efficient use of every inch in their 36-square-foot kitchen. How much appliance do you really need?
Watch a video of a traveling sheep shearer at work and tell us about small-scale farming artisans in your region.
Gary Chang's brilliant solution to making a 330-square-foot apartment work for his family was to create a sliding wall system that can be configured into 24 different rooms. You have to see this one to believe it.
The number of bike commuters is on the rise everywhere in the United States, but especially in Bicycle Friendly Communities where it has increased an average of 80 percent.
Former Boulder, Colorado, mayor Shaun McGrath, the new head of the American Solar Energy Society, has his work cut out for him.
Emmy-award winner, Dayton Duncan, likened trail advocates to John Muir at the American Trails National Symposium
Groovy Globe will donate 10 percent of its sales from each product sold to non-profit environmental organizations.
The American Garden Tool Company is an online source for American-made garden tools, products and accessories.
ASES released a report that says 37 million green jobs are possible by 2030. Check out the study here!
The League of American Bicyclists has compiled a database of state-specific highlights of traffic laws that affect bicyclists. Find out if you live in a bicycle friendly community.
American Airlines is the greenest U.S. airline for the third consecutive year in Newsweek's Green Rankings List, an annual environmental ranking of the country's 500 largest publicly traded companies.
Hold onto your hats, Congress is debating climate change. Right now the U.S. House is considering the Waxman-Markey climate bill. Here's where you can find more information about what is, and isn't, in the bill.
You can find great reports from the field and footage of rare bird species at the American Bird Conservancy's Bird News Network. Plus, find tips for winter birding and check out highly entertaining footage of the moonwalking manakin bird.
The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy launches a national campaign aimed at the American Automobile Association.
Americans are being asked to turn up the thermostat 3 degrees on June 21. If you find you don't notice the difference, why not keep it up? You will notice the difference in your electric bill.
The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) notes the environmental benefits of commuting and traveling on a motorcycle.
Otto and Jim, two American Belgian draft horses, demonstrate their impressive strength to visitors at the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR in Puyallup, Washington.
This video slideshow reveals the sacred magic
contained in the Native American corn that sustained many Indian tribes for
thousands of years before professional plant breeders turned it into an
Teddi Irwin sent us this
great update on a Homesteading Education Month event held at IN A GOOD WAY, a
training farm established to use therapeutic methods of farming to improve the
lives of Native American men.
Gene GeRue relates the lessons he learned from a childhood of frugal living.
Before space beneath your grow light is needed for onions and other early seedlings, fill it with baby lettuce grown in translucent clamshell salad containers.
A potential solution to rising food prices, food insecurity and the obesity epidemic may call into play raising farms inside the city limits.
Ranging in size from 528 square feet to 960 square feet, miniHomes are a combination of park model trailer, manufactured home and code-compliant residences that combine modern design with state-of-the-art building technology.
Learn three simple tips for making the most of small gardening spaces, including hanging plants and advice for selecting seed varieties.
One farm is able to combine cost savings, with energy sustainability by using a Savonius rotor.
Our guest blogger is positively enchanted by the convenience, not to mention the benefits, of keeping worms in the garden.
Finding time to make improvements on a small dairy is difficult but making a few improvements as the seasons change can often make a micro dairy or any size small farm more efficient. Here are 7 steps to help you prepare your barn for the cold winter months.
Living in a tiny house is good for the environment and for the wallet, but requires a lifestyle shift for the inhabitants.
Anyone can have an indoor supply of fresh greens. Just try nutritious microgreens and sprouts year round.
Some people just do not want help! The frustrations of starting a business and attempting to offer professional help to community organizations.
Ryan Mitchell, founder of TheTinyLife.com, is saving up to pay cash for a 130-square-foot home on wheels in North Carolina. He’s seeking perspective, clarity—and a girlfriend who gets it.
Victoria Gazely considers her revitalized 650-square-foot homesteader’s cabin on 7 acres of fertile earth--purchased for $150--a blessing. “I absolutely love living here,” she says.
The original weeHouse prefabricated kit house is 435 efficiently designed square feet and comes with everything you need to live well. Need more space? You can snap together two or more of the modules to satisfy your needs.
The presence of bicycles on sidewalks has long been debated: Is it legal? Is it safer than the road? Shouldn’t children be able to ride on sidewalks?
Thoreau, Rachel Carson, Bill McKibbon, Terry Tempest Williams. Do you have a favorite nature or environmental writer? A book or story you can get lost in, that inspires you to action, or simply reminds you of how incredible nature is? Post a comment to share the titles that invite you into the wonder of the natural world — or have maybe even changed your life.
Homeowners are willing to splurge on kitchen and bath remodels, but they're not interested in building luxury or second homes, according to an American Institute of Architects survey.
The defeat of Congressman Jim Oberstar wasn't just a blow to Minnesota. It was a loss for everyone who bikes and walks.
A California couple is hitting the road in a greened-up Airstream to share and gather lessons on living sustainbly.
The Sustainable Poultry Network and Western Piedmont Community College have combined forces to create the American School of Sustainable Poultry Husbandry, an intensive poultry workshop for anyone interested in poultry production, marketing, breeding, hatching, cooking, etc.
An affordable prototype home helps revitalize a blighted Syracuse, New York, neighborhood--and could be the city home of the future.
A new study has uncovered a link between food and environmental allergies and chemicals found in pesticides, herbicides and other agricultural products and drinking water.
“For anyone considering downsizing, or considering a small starter home, we say just do it!” Linda Bolton says. “We promise you won’t miss a thing living in a thousand square feet or less. You’ll just have smaller headaches.”
Landscape designer Alma Hecht turned a tiny house into a welcoming home and studio with cozy outdoor "rooms" that extend her living space.
Victoria Gazely lives in a 650-square-foot homesteader's cabin built by a man who didn't need closets. She's found five great ways to stash her stuff without renovating--and her solutions work for anyone who needs to hide a few things.
In support of the Obama Administration's all-of-the-above energy strategy, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced Nov. 19, 2012, 10 small business-led projects to speed solar energy innovation from the lab to the marketplace.
Using an old-world technique, Russians are growing their own organic crops -- and it's working.
An experiment in urban gardening produces a melon miracle.
What to plant in April for your vegetable garden, and what sized pot you need for your vegetable plant.
Think your balcony's too tiny to provide food and fun? Check out Apartment Therapy's great tips for making the most of your outdoor space.
Anecdotal evidence from coast to coast indicates that Americans have had enough of granite countertops and whirlpool tubs. They want smaller homes with green finishes instead.
Help save this small family farm in Michigan, and stand up for our right to live sustainably!
A wind energy expert discusses the durability of small-scale wind turbines.
Transitioning seedlings from indoor starts to outdoor plants
Harvesting abundance in the early spring.
Is your patio short on space? Check out the Hot Pot BBQ, a grill that doubles as an herb planter.
Preserving an abundant basil harvest for the coming winter.
Use of a mobile chicken tractors allows us to keep the birds on fresh ground and stay on top of the weeds.
The author discusses setting up small-scale dairy for local, doorstep milk sales in Great Britain.
After working four jobs to make payments on their larger home, Debra and Gary downsized--to 320 square feet. The family lacks for nothing, and guests are always welcome. "I've got everything I need," Debra says. And their $20K house is paid off.
When he renovated his 816-square-foot condo in Boulder, Colorado, Greg Miller borrowed space-saving and efficiency solutions from his years of living on the road. Check out this video of his van, prepped for adventure.
A Berkeley, California, artist has outfitted a dumpster with all the amenities--including granite countertops and hardwood floors--in his mission to "break down what a house should be."
A brief announcement of a rare educational opportunity ... a wind turbine installation. We'll be installing a 2.5 kW Skystream wind turbine on a 127-foot tilt-up tower.
Join two modern homesteaders as they begin down the road toward building their small home and self-reliant farmstead on their new piece of raw land in northeastern Kansas.
If you want to own property, you have to find a way to finance buying land. Here, one couple explains how they took out a mortgage to build a home and purchase land.
In order to access our land and put in a driveway, we need to secure an entrance permit. If you're planning to buy land and build a home, check what your entrance permit requirements are before you purchase the property.
In order to secure a building permit to construct their future home, we must first complete a soil evaluation and meet the county's requirements for septic system installations.
Book reviews by permaculture educator Cindy Conner. Learn about Sustainable Market Farming, The Art of Fermentation, The Permaculture Handbook, and The Small-Scale Poultry Flock.
A short description of why we prefer small city living over large city living.
How prepared ahead of time for remote living and what was required.
Living in possibly the best place in the USA.
One couple recounts how they pursued a land zoning waiver in order to secure a building permit on their recently purchased rural property.
When it comes to building their home, one couple decides to hire a contractor to handle the process, but still plans to design their own home and provide labor and materials as much as possible.
Before beginning construction on their new home, one couple assesses which renewable energy sources make sense for their location and situation.
One homesteading couple navigates the final series of meetings with the county planning department and county commission in order to finalize their land survey plat approval.
Tyler and I spent an afternoon creating a footpath and campsite in our woods. Now we can go camping with friends and enjoy meals (and s’mores) over the campfire whenever we have the time or desire.
If you want to be hands-on with your house building, a kit home can be an affordable, energy-efficient option. One homesteading couple assess whether building a kit home is right for them.
Bank loans, especially new home construction loans, require some legwork on the part of the future homeowner. One couple explains how they got a loan to build their new house.
The bad news? Coal-fired power plants are our biggest source of industrial pollution. The good news? Solar grew by 67 percent last year, making it our fastest-growing energy sector.
Blume Distillation debuts appropriate-scale biofuel distillation equipment that will allow farmers, entrepreneurs, municipalities and communities to produce their own alcohol fuel from a variety of readily available fuel stock sources.
Christy Oates's brilliant fold-out furniture takes up virtually no floor space when it's not in use. It's the perfect solution for small homes--and a hopeful sign for the future of design.
Community food events are an outstanding way to share the abundance of our harvest and strengthen local community ties.
As winter descends a three-season hoop house is weeded, compost spread, and a straw mulch applied. Next spring will be here soon.
This tiny kit home--less than 90 square feet--is energy-independent and so well-designed that you'd never miss the space.
In her new book, Micro-Green: Tiny Houses in Nature, Mimi Zeiger profiles 36 creative, innovative small dwellings that represent a "new, rich architectural typology." Here are eight great examples to start fueling your fantasies.
One homesteading couple learns what a land survey plat is, and then proceeds to have a plat completed of their rural property.
While many indications point to house size shrinking in America, National Public Radio reports that the McMansion is far from dead.
We received some good additional tips on buying land and building a home. These pieces of advice are a roundup of comments taken from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Facebook page.
Whether you are buying a house, purchasing land, or getting ready to build your own home, we recommend starting by setting your priorities and then matching a house design to your needs.
After finding some basic online building plans, the next step to getting a future home built is to find a designer to draw the house plans.
One homesteading couple reads up on passive solar house design and then modifies online options to create their own custom passive solar plans. Here are their recommended resources.
In order to secure a building permit to construct a new home, many counties require a septic system inspection and approval. Here’s how one couple had a successful “perc” test done at their future home site, along with a quick explanation of what a perc test is.
Before beginning construction on their new home, this couple is taking steps to prepare their land for their impending move-in by planting perennial natives, building some walking trails, cutting firewood to dry, and more. They’re having a blast!
If you want to build a passive solar house, you’ll need to spend time upfront carefully considering your house plans. Here’s how one couple worked with a contractor and a designer to draw up and then finalize their small home plans with energy efficiency and lifestyle in mind.
Wabi-sabi teaches us appreciation for the good energy and soul that handmade items bring to our homes. Etsy, the premiere source for handcrafted home goods, offers an extensive list of items whose sale will benefit Japanese relief efforts.
Simran Sethi explains her bathroom-remodel goals to conserve water.
A listing of companies that offer green dwellings in the form of modular, prefab, manufactured, compact, or mobile structures. These days, many such options are available that are not only green, but also beautiful, well-made, and often low-cost.
Homegrown vegetables are a lesson for kids in where food comes from.
With no building experiment and only the information they found online as their guide, Kyle and Jeannie built a sweet little home on wheels. In this video, they share what they learned in the process and invite you inside.
D Acres offers alternative economics. We are the 99&: join us.
This article describes an alternative roof design for those building in areas without building codes. A little extra effort working with poles will reward you with a stunningly beautiful wood ceiling and superinsulated roof at very reasonable cost.
Leaves are a valuable source of mulch and fertility within the permaculture garden.
The roundwood truss system described here enables DIYers to build their own trusses at very low cost. You can gather truckloads of poles from national forests, enough for several small houses, for the cost of one $25 firewood permit.
The process of curing potatoes for winter storage.
With its newest offering, Tumbleweed Tiny House Company gives homebuyers the flexibility of a kit house with the fine craftsmanship they expect from the flagship small home builder.
New investment in clean energy reached $243 billion last year, driven by soaring activity in China, offshore wind and European rooftop photovoltaics
If you have access to small diameter trees and wood pallets, and live in an area not restricted by building codes, then this truss design is one good low cost roof option. If you do all the work yourself, these trusses are virtually free.
There's honey in the hive, peaches on the trees, and food on the table, but it's still a long way from self-sufficiency.