abundant amenities for small town.
A surprising number of amenities found in a small town complete with western hospitality.
Help us find the small U.S. towns and cities that are getting it right for citizens and the environment.
Reasons why we like to shop at our local grocery.
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.
Watch this short video to hear how bicycle travel can save small town America.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As the economy improves, the trend toward smaller homes is reversing.
Spending a day having fun prospecting for gold, enjoying the outdoors, exploring a ghost town and the high mountains.
Living in a community that has those who served in the armed forces and make good neighbors.
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.
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.
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.
Every natural environment is beautiful in ways we cannot imagine. We must preserve natural beauty for precisely that reason, because we could not conceive of natural beauty on our own without nature’s inspiration.
For children to develop a love of nature and avoid Nature Deficit Disorder, they need to spend more time there.
I was 9 when Mr. Posey “hired” me. Once I was certain he wouldn’t chase me off, I started spending nearly every spare moment there. It was my first job, and I loved it.
If a white midget turkey hen can survive alone in the woods for months, nature’s diverse citizenry will find new ways of thriving on a warmer planet, a wetter planet, a drier planet or a colder planet. They’ve done it before.
We are unique and brilliant creatures. Humanity has expanded into every corner of the planet. With our extraordinary tools, we are stronger and faster than any other species. And we are improving.
Environmentalists should strive to understand the joy experienced by the race fan, the motorcyclist and the snowmobiler, and we should use that understanding to stimulate the human imagination in ways that benefit the planet.
The Africans showed up at our door on a sunny, chilly November afternoon. Two men introduced themselves as Stone and Abraham. In the background stood a young woman with a gregarious little boy, Henry, about 2 years old. They were looking for goats.
We could feed every hungry person tomorrow but we haven’t collectively decided to do so. In my beautiful vision, we would tolerate nothing less.
Many farms of the 21st Century are, comparatively speaking, biological wastelands. Plowed, fertilized and cultivated from property-line to property-line, much of the world’s most productive land has been stripped of its wildlife.
Our collective vision should incorporate the aspiration toward beauty in every human community around the world.
An alien biologist visiting from a distant planet might look at the remarkable similarities in our physiology and conclude that chimps would live pretty much as humans do, only more simply. But there’s something definitively, well, human about us.
Humanity has the technological and intellectual capacities to preserve for our great-grandchildren a world teeming with life and human prosperity. Why would we plan for anything less?
Our innovations have made possible a rapid expansion in the quantity of human life on earth. But the same technological foundation is used, with equal facility, to improve and sustain the quality of human life.
Human history gives us plenty of evidence to support a pessimistic outlook, but history also gives us plenty of reason for optimism. On the humble foundation of skin clothing and bone jewelry we have built a wondrous technological superstructure.
Environmentalists are better leaders when we can better love human ingenuity. We will need to form partnerships with the natural world, to ingeniously utilize its resources in ways that preserve its natural productivity.
Applying human objectivity to the biggest, most intriguing and most definitively human problem, ever, is quite an endeavor.
Our habitat won’t allow the human population to expand forever. But if the global population stabilizes, we face an unprecedented economic problem. Prosperity depends on an expanding human population to support our expanding global economy.
Rancho Cappuccino is what we call our farm, 50 acres of tallgrass prairie a few miles outside Lawrence, Kansas. Farming is the reflection of our value system. Rancho Cappuccino is the vessel for our lives.
I realize that if I provide an example for the pursuit of fairness in the world I will be inviting dissent. But maybe an idealistic endeavor, like the international Fair-Trade movement, can at least illustrate the aspiration toward fairness.
Why is it unrealistic to believe we can agree that clean air and water are important and limited resources? How insane is it to think we could imagine a world of beauty and abundance? That’s what I’m going to aim for.
Conservation, while not a complete solution to our resource issues, is a key strategy for creating abundance.
Enormous obstacles form a barrier that effectively blocks our view of the future. Even if we dream up a beautiful and abundant vision for our future, can we see the path from where we are today to that future past these big obstacles?
Over the next few weeks, I will offer here three case studies of how the queries might direct change within three very different organizations – our own Rancho Cappuccino; the business I run, Ogden Publications; and Google, Inc.
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.
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.
For humanity to create a better world, we must address issues of economic equality and limited resources. The natural environment can recover from much damage if we gradually limit the human population and judge business success by quality rather than quantity.
With the inventiveness of visionaries like Elon Musk, technological advances can help create a better world, while remaining useful and cool.
We’re creating beauty more fundamentally, internally, by learning about the place, loving it and treating it with care. Year by year, its beauty is more compelling to us as we know it better. Beauty is, indeed, in the eye of the beholder.
When my wife and I consider whether Rancho Cappuccino helps create abundance, we need to look at all three underlying questions: Does it enhance natural resources, improving supply? Does it help reduce demand? And, does it help us embrace simplicity?
Fairness is not so much a standard to be achieved as it is a criterion to be interpreted and applied. We strive for fairness, even though it can’t be clearly defined, much less perfected. In the striving, I think we create a better world.
We have no examples of economic growth occurring in the absence of human population growth. Population growth is a Ponzi scheme and we’re setting up future generations as its victims. We are paying into the base of the pyramid with natural resources.
At work, as at home, the queries have helped us add a number of constructive items to our agenda.
At first glance George Siemon and Doc Hatfield don’t appear to have a whole lot in common. But George and Doc and a bunch of conspirators are revolutionizing agriculture: they are putting consumers back in touch with the people who grow their food.
Abundance is the most fundamental building block in the Google DNA.
We met Max Gonzales in the mountains of northern New Mexico about 25 years ago. I sometimes wonder if he’s up there this year, in the Cruces Basin or some other isolated mountain valley, listening to radio and dreaming of home.
We have our work cut out for us for many years to come. And for that, we’re grateful.
My colleagues and I hoped the small, unconventional company would provide a platform for something bigger – something that could grow.
If a society decides its human populations can be held within the capacities of local farms to feed them, then our small farms can be replicated into the future, until further notice. I think that’s a very contagious idea.
The decade between the turn of the millennium and 2010 might justifiably be called the Google Decade. The company may have built more influence in less time than any other human endeavor in history.
Conscientiousness is woven into the company culture, quite intentionally. The more prosperous and powerful the company becomes, the more strident the criticism. Any institution as powerful as Google has great potential for evil, and for good.
We try to help people create abundance by both possible methods: by conserving existing resources and by propagating new resources. In other words, the two basic tools at our disposal are conservation and innovation.
We don’t have a positive vision for our future, but we can picture a lot of different ways in which things may go badly for us. This lack of a positive vision seems dangerous to me because we so often realize what what we visualize.
After a recent talk I gave in San Francisco, a man raised his hand and asked me how I could distinguish between “human slavery and animal slavery.” Now there’s a provocative question.
So far, technology has accommodated and augmented population growth. We’ve seen our “green revolution” spread across the globe and feed the multitudes. The globe remains, however, a finite resource.
Yes, we aspire to beauty. And we create some beautiful things, judging with our own eyes and the eyes of our audiences. But of course it’s only through the ongoing daily aspiration to beauty that beauty is achieved. So, we keep it up.
Our economic dependence on population growth bears a disturbing similarity to a global Ponzi scheme - a scam in which an unethical entrepreneur promises investors big returns, which he fraudulently generates from the contributions of later investors.
On every continent in the world there are large regions where a family can, through ingenuity and hard work, provide a lot of its own food in active partnership with the natural environment. And people get excited about that.
Evidently when it comes to visualizing our future, a lot of people expect the worst and are inclined to leave it up to God. It is up to God, of course, but God gave us two eyes in the front of our heads to look forward and prepare for what’s to come.
Beyond salary and benefits are the more abstract but equally important elements that make an employee feel valued.
Google’s mission is making information available. That includes all the beauty in the world (along with everything else, of course).
Google’s unofficial motto, “Don’t Be Evil,” could be expressed as easily in the positive, “Be Fair.”
One of the best-proven characteristics of our system of business is its contagiousness. The system has proven itself repeatable and contagious across both time and space, across centuries of time and every continent.
Our writers sometimes criticize the system, but everyone understands that the system makes our existence possible. And the more successful our company is within the system, the more influential our work becomes. That's fair, I think.
The company’s founders seem to be as proud of the company’s culture as they are of its financial success. Can the Google culture persist when the company’s economic power declines?
We’ll be actively engaged in this inquiry for the rest of our lives. It’s a great project, improving the fairness of how we live. It has captured our imaginations.
Google can be the most enlightened power-user on the planet. Because it is so successful, and because it uses a lot of electricity, Google has the opportunity to set a new global standard for clean power.
Most of the things we do to conserve resources and protect the environment are subtle. We remain acutely conscious that all this, combined, still doesn’t make us a truly sustainable business. We have a long way to go. But we’re trying to get there.
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.
Some people just do not want help! The frustrations of starting a business and attempting to offer professional help to community organizations.
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.
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.
Inventor and entrepreneur Elon Musk leaves little doubt about how far vision and imagination can take us in addressing ecological challenges.
Humanity has the power to change and to take the actions needed to foster a healthy planet and a better standard of living for all. Choosing beauty and abundance will ensure a better future not only for humanity, but for the natural environment as well.
I was gratified when, two weeks ago, Consumer Reports announced that the Chevy Volt was the best-loved car in the world among people who drive one – for the second year in a row. I have never loved a car like I love this one. And I have loved some cars.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A short description of why we prefer small city living over large city living.
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.
A proper tea house is a luxury I believe in.
The author discusses setting up small-scale dairy for local, doorstep milk sales in Great Britain.
Living in possibly the best place in the USA.
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.
How prepared ahead of time for remote living and what was required.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
One couple recounts how they pursued a land zoning waiver in order to secure a building permit on their recently purchased rural property.
Jim and Holly Smith, founders of Today’s Abundant Living, sent us this great review of a Homesteading Education Month open house and country skills workshop they hosted at their Michigan homestead.
Once our bodies and our imaginations are engaged, the incremental change begins. Then it gets easier and easier to envision humanity occupying this planet–this beautiful, abundant planet–far into the future.
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.
While many indications point to house size shrinking in America, National Public Radio reports that the McMansion is far from dead.
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.
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.
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.
One homesteading couple learns what a land survey plat is, and then proceeds to have a plat completed of their rural property.
Bryan Welch's book, Beautiful and Abundant, provides a framework for understanding and evaluating ecotourism's impact on Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.