Homemade Soap for Laundry and Gifts

I used to think of soap-making as one of those cool things I’d love to try someday, but for a long time it seemed too complex and intimidating. Then, one day it so happened that I had all the necessary ingredients – namely, a box of lye crystals and a bottle of non-food-grade oil I had absolutely nothing else to do with. I took a deep breath and dove in. Even a beginner soap-maker can produce simple, multi-purpose, natural soap at home.

Setting Live Traps for Mammalian Garden Pests

Mammalian garden pests can do serious damage to your crops in a short period of time. Humane live traps such as those made by Havahart are a practical answer to this situation, but outwitting the animal can also be frustrating. Properly setting, baiting, and managing these traps can increase your success in removing problem animals from your property.

Dark Molasses-Oatmeal Bread

This yummy loaf is a little darker than regular oatmeal bread, due to the molasses, which also gives it some sweetness. Once again, I’m using home ground hard red wheat flour, which gives an indescribable flavor. No flour mill? No problem, just substitute regular whole wheat flour and all purpose white, respectively. The blend of whole wheat and white flour makes a lighter loaf than if made from 100% whole wheat.

The Market Gardener: A Successful Growers Handbook for Small-Scale Organic Farming

A step-by-step guide that lays out practical know-how, Fortier has done his due diligence to learn from those who have innovated in the past and compiled successful strategies into one small successful farm. In a time of “feel good stories” that may or may not be financially solvent, Fortier simply hands over to the reader the blueprints to confidently launch and run a small-scale market garden.

7 Easy Ways to Protect Your Skin Without Sunblock

Sun protection is important, and although sunblock is marketed as safe and effective, I'd rather not slather chemicals on my skin every day. Although sunblock has its place in my skin-protection arsenal, here are seven easy ways I'm able to protect my skin from the sun's harmful rays without resorting to sunblock.

Walking Makes Strides in All Kinds of Communities

“The health benefits of walking are so overwhelming that to deny access to that is a violation of fundamental human rights,” declared Dr. Robert D. Bullard, father of the environmental justice movement in a keynote speech at the National Walking Summit in Washington, D.C. “All communities should have a right to a safe, sustainable, healthy, just, walkable community.” We found inspiring stories from places across the U.S. where people got things started in communities not so different from where you live.

Woodworking Arborist Salvages Urban Trees

Working as an arborist in Colorado, Ryan Baldwin saw an opportunity to salvage city trees destined for the dump into usable lumber for woodworking projects.

Convert Your Lawn to a No-Till Permaculture Garden

When we bought our homestead, the only gardening area was at the bottom of a fairly steep hill. Though fine for growing a winter’s worth of potatoes and squash, it’s less convenient for greens, which we prefer to grow close to the house. Having read about a method called "lasagna gardening" (named for its layers; learn the basics here), we decided to try it. Egged on by its success, we extended the garden the following year only this time incorporating hugelkultur techniques. Here’s how we did it.

Start an Annual 'Farmers and Friends' Meeting

Getting to know your local farmers and learning more about how to farm can be an annual event. From the novice to the experienced farmer, chef, or backyard gardener, an annual meeting is a great way to expand the knowledge base and make new friends.

The Exciting Herbal Resurgence

Herbalism has a rich, beautiful history and is once again finding a place in many modern homes. Now is a vibrant, exciting time to be an herbalist!

A Royal Compost Adventure Report

Stan Slaughter gave a speech in England this April at the invitation of HRH Prince Charles. The speech described the many synergies available when we enlist the magical powers of the microbial friends around us. A section of the speech is exerpted in the blog post.

10 Tips for New Garden Farmers

Now, 4 years into growing much of the produce we eat, I realize that garden farming connects me even more deeply than I had imagined to the earth, the life cycle, my body and food. It is also more difficult not only physically, but mentally as well. Had I known more from the start, no doubt it would have been easier and more effective. It is in this spirit that I am sharing some of what I’ve learned.

How to Grow Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms are an easy to grow, delicious mushroom for beginners to learn to cultivate. Shitakes have a satisfying meaty texture when sauteed, broiled or baked, and they have a distinctive 'unami' flavor that makes them popular in Asia.

‘Goldenseal’ Charms and Heals in the Garden

“Golden” will be the first word to enter your mind when you see the roots, rhizomes and dormant buds of Hydrastis canadensis. You’ll understand immediately why the common name is “Goldenseal.” This very useful native woodland plant will not only charm and entertain you spring, summer, and autumn — it can even heal you.

Off-Grid and Free: Living With Wolves and Remote Communications

They're back. The wolves. During breakfast one morning this past week, we heard a chorus of howling. Racing down to the shoreline, we saw 3 wolves in the center of the lake about a mile away. The wolves are a symbol of our wilderness location. Learn how we live with them and stay in touch with civilization.

The Importance of Community for Homesteaders

Homesteading is built upon a foundation of self sufficiency, but community is just as important. There is so much more to homesteading than the individual pleasure associated with it. There is true joy and friendship in the shared labor of land.

Using Soap Nuts as a Chemical-Free Cleaning Solution

Technically a berry, soap nuts are considered to be an environmentally conscious alternative to chemical detergents and soaps. The berries come from a prolific tree that grows well in degraded environments where little else can grow. They are safe for allergies, free from any additives, and can be used to clean just about anything.

Organized Community Homesteading

We thought we were doing the right thing when we moved to a remote area to live 19 years ago. The community is a landowners association with some who desire to change a beautiful remote-living area on acreage to resemble what they left. We thought living in an area with covenants and rules would protect our investment, but one should recognize that living remotely in a covenant community offers both positive and negative aspects.

Healthy Salad in a Jar

The Salad in a Jar (aka Mason Jar Salad) has become popular for a reason. You, too, can make these delicious, easy, healthy, and convenient grab-and-go lunches!

Rock Polypody: One Helluva Tough Fern

Polypodium virginianum aka the "Rock Polypody" is native to just about every state east of the Mississippi, Alaska, almost every province in Canada and all the way north up to Greenland and Iceland. To grow it requires no master's degree in gardening or landscape architecture or any particularly colored thumb. It's really quite simple! This is the perfect fern for any shade garden or along the path of any shade border.

The Realities of Hunting

An ethical hunter makes a point to explain what hunting is to those who have never done it.

Rebuilding a New England Barn

Turning an old barn into something useable is a challenge, and it is a valuable skill to have when you are starting a farm.

Partridge Berry as a Non-Aggressive, Pest-Resistant Groundcover

Native to 35 states and 3 provinces of Canada east of the Mississippi, Partridge Berry is rarely seen in the trade. I fail to see why, as it's very easy to propagate by rooting cuttings or from seed. In fact, it forms adventitious roots as it gently winds its way around the garden. It could never, by any stretch of the imagination, be considered aggressive or invasive.

Running a Successful CSA

Cam describes how much he has learned after running a CSA for 5 years and offers a workshop for those interested in learning from his experience.

Stand Up and Sign Up: Community Farms Need You Now

With forces and circumstances intensifying all around, this is the optimum time to take positive action for your family, your community, and your planet. CSA Signup Day on Feb. 26 gives everyone an opportunity for intelligent action by joining and supporting a community farm (CSA).

How to Grow Giant Sunflowers

Growing giant sunflowers can be fun and easy. By following these simple steps you can have these towering giants in your yard as well.

ArkV Adventures, Part 2

So, the gals are on their way to New Hampshire to pick up heritage cows, and so far, it's going smoothly — but there are bumps in the road ahead, so hang on! (Spoiler alert: They all made it home fine: two cows, two pigs, and two galls.)

ArkV Adventures, Part 1: Transporting Livestock in Winter

The farm hasn't had cows in 50 years — but Kara wanted cows. Not any old cows; no, a special heritage kind. nd where were these cows? In the mountains of New Hampshire, half a continent away! Time for a road trip to pick up and transport livestock in winter!

Buying a Pork Share

Buying a half-pig directly from a farmer ensures quality and well-raised pork, although it will cost more than supermarket pork. Understanding how to fill out a cut sheet guarantees you get what you paid for.

5 Easy Squirrel Calls (with Video)

Here are five very quick, simple calls you can make to mimic the sound of a squirrel "cutting" using items you can find around your home!

Our Summer with a Community Garden Plot

While this young couple had dreams of buying land to start their homestead, they were still stuck in an apartment in the big city so they rented a community garden plot. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! Find ways to accomplish your goals and do what you love!

Homesteading in the United Kingdom

“Smallholding” is a UK term that’s broadly equivalent to the term “homestead” in the United States, meaning farming on a small scale with a strong element of self-sufficiency in food. Despite the geographical differences, there must be a great deal of common ground between the American homestead and the British smallholding — so let’s find out!

Steps to Guard Against Indoor Air Pollution

Indoor air is polluted by volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. These gases are emitted into the air from products like pesticides, air fresheners, cleaning products, paint and paint remover, personal care products, appliances, furniture and building products, including carpet and pressed-wood floors, and more. Learn several steps to take to guard against indoor air pollution and how indoor air quality monitors can help.

Consilience Enhances Resilience: A Key Element of CSA Farms

As climate chaos intensifies, we have many reasons to cultivate resilience - the strength and flexibility to endure shocks and yet still function. Through CSA farms the quality of consilience - the linking together of principles from different disciplines - becomes a way for all shareholders to enhance the resilience of farms and thereby strengthen community.

Lessons Learned from Childhood on a Farm

Time well spent on my grandmother’s farm taught me lessons that I have carried with me throughout my entire life. What I learned there even inspired me to pursue a homestead lifestyle for myself, working right beside my husband as we learn to be more self-sufficient.

Farming at Every Scale

Did you know you can grow potatoes in an apartment? Whether you live in an apartment or on a hundred acre farm, you can take steps towards self reliance and lifestyle independence. Living with limited space doesn't have to be a setback towards homesteading, and there are many creative ways you can take advantage of your space to get the most out of it.

Hunting for Food

Hunting isn’t for everyone, but what I would like to do is share with interested readers, hunters included, how hunting and fishing helps me provide my own food and move a step closer to a sustainable life here on my farm.

5 Tips for a Greener Christmas

Take notice of your environmental footprint over the festive period and follow our guide for a greener Christmas.

Personality Types and Permaculture

Ever wonder what the unseen, unnamed aspects of homesteading in community are? Social dynamics and personality types are vital, intimidating elements of farming in the country.

Community Farmers Convene in America's Heartland

For dozens of reasons, it’s time to convene in America’s heartland a conference of farmers involved in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Here’s a sampler of the key topics that will arise.

Mistakes to Avoid When Putting New Plastic on Your Hoophouse

After four changes of plastic on our hoophouse (high tunnel we are ready to tell you some mistakes to avoid, mostly involving hoophouse plastic too tight or too loose, or cut wrong, and inflation blowers that didn't perform well enough. Our experience can save you from the same mistakes.

Organizing a Neighborhood Permaculture Convergence, Part 2

A permaculture convergence is a coming together of people interested in permaculture, with presentations, plenary sessions, networking, hands-on skill building, and tours of the site or nearby places of interest that show what applied permaculture looks like. The 2015 Northwest Permaculture Convergence took place in August in Eugene, Ore., with the theme “Greening Our Neighborhoods with Permaculture.”

Young Farmers Deserve Student-Debt Forgiveness

Student loan debt continues to pressure young farmers and those considering taking up farming to give up on their dreams of working the land. The National Young Farmer Coalition hopes to secure student loan debt forgiveness by recognizing farming as a public service.

Determining the Goals for Your Farm

Polyface Farm Apprentice Tim Rohrer encourages homesteaders and farmers to try and define clear goals for their farm. By determining clear goals, a farmer is better able to go about furthering her farming adventure.

Cultivating Communities through School Gardens

As an educator and ecologist, I am learning from my students that the most important survival ingredient may actually be a sense of community. Grow Your Own! was born in 2012 to address a problem: Local teachers and parents were building school gardens that were lying empty from disuse. The mission of GYO! thus became support for school gardens and their leaders through guidance, curriculum, and resources to foster gardens that were at the same time beautiful, educational, and functional.

Fall In the Rockies Invigorates the Senses

There is one time of the year in the mountains that is special and above all other seasons in my opinion. Fall time in the mountains is invigorating and refreshing. It is the season the invigorates all five senses. For a little Rocky Mountain fall-time inspiration, read on.

Prepare for Winter Wellness with Garden Sage Body Oil

Sage is an herb of ancient repute, long valued as a culinary and medicinal plant. It has a stimulating, heating, and drying energy and is a well-known cold germ and flu fighter, having particularly potent antimicrobial, respiratory antiseptic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, astringent, mucolytic (mucous thinning), antispasmodic, and vulnerary (tissue healing) properties. Prepare for winter wellness with this garden sage body oil recipe.

Why Farmers Need Each Other

Tim Rohrer describes why he thinks that farmers need each other. Tim describes his the time immediately following his apprenticeship at Polyface Farm, and how he experienced farmer camaraderie.

10 Reasons You Need Tasslerue in Your Garden

There are probably over 100 reasons that you should be growing shade-loving and native ‘Tasslerue’ Trautvetteria caroliniensis, but the main reason that you aren't growing it is because you've probably never heard of it, let alone had someone offer to share some with you. All that's about to change.

Community Education through Farm Tours

The residents of Leavenworth, Wash., decided that they wanted to showcase how their community is working to create a more sustainable future, so they created the second annual Sustainable Living and Farm Tour. We invite you to join us this coming September 12-13th, 2015.

Polyface Farm’s Unfair Advantage

Polyface has an “Unfair Advantage," but the good news is that you do, too! Here, Tim shares his thoughts on how your Unfair Advantage sets you apart from the crowd and bestows gifts on you that you can turn into success. The trick is learning to utilize your own Unfair Advantage.

Reasons I Joined a Cooperative Living Situation

The trials and tribulations of our life on a cooperative living farm quite frequently mirror those of any small group of young Americans finding their way in the world, however, for me, there are daily reminders of why I am sticking with these crazy idealists in Appalachia.

Mountain Hunting

A short story about how deer and deer hunting have changed in both the Catskill Mountains and Hudson Valley of New York State.

A Closer Look at Recycled Countertops

When one home-building couple first started looking for sustainable countertop materials, they were focused on options made with recycled materials. In their quest for the perfect tops, they stumbled upon a more cost-effective way to incorporate recycled countertops into their home’s design.

Organizing a Neighborhood Permaculture Convergence, Part 1

The 2015 Northwest Permaculture Convergence will be held in a suburban neighborhood for the first time. Also for the first time, outreach to the general public is a core part of this convergence with site tours and educational Expo, free and open to the public.

The Biodynamic Farm Body, Part 1

Biodynamic agriculture views the farm as a living organism. By tapping into the ecology that makes up your farm and viewing these systems holistically, you can utilize the natural world to grow healthy crops and achieve true sustainability. Your farm has a body and seeks wellness through biodiversity and habitat variability.

Hang Your Laundry to Dry

Using the sun to dry our clothes naturally is part of a permaculture lifestyle. Learn tips for drying your clothes both outside and inside your house, allowing you to get rid of your clothes dryer and opening up space for other things, such as crocks for fermenting.

Gardening Is Biology not Chemistry

Gardening is a biological process, not a chemical one. For a healthy, productive garden, help your plants cultivate the biology in the soil that will feed them.

Meet the Polyface Farm Pastured Turkeys

During my time as a Polyface Farm intern, I never was able to grasp the turkeys as my personal responsibility. Now things are different. Get a glimpse through the eyes of a Polyface Apprentice as he raises Polyface Farm’s pastured turkeys.

'Kickstarting' the K15 Bamboo and Recycled Aluminum E-Bike

Assembled in China from native bamboo and recycled 6160 aluminum tubing gussets, this bike frame seemed the perfect complement to the ZeHus motor. I not only ended up with one of the most beautiful e-bikes Iʼve ever seen, but it also turned out to be one of the lightest. Learn how you can reserve a future production version of the e-bike.

Late Summer and Fall Intercropping of Cover Crops in Vegetable Crops, aka Undersowing

The principles of intercropping apply also to undersowing cover crops in existing vegetable crops. This article lists the advantages of undersowing cover crops, gives some examples that work for late summer and fall vegetable crops, distinguishes suitable and unsuitable situations, and provides links to several useful resources.

Financing Renewable Energy: Home Wind and Solar Power

Installation timing, system sizing, and federal and state energy policies are all important components for financing renewable energy as part of a home construction project. One couple shares their experience with trying to put all the pieces in order.

4 Eco-Friendly Countertop Options for Every Budget

Choosing a countertop for a kitchen remodel involves many considerations. One of the most important considerations is eco-friendliness. Here are some of the best eco-friendly countertop options available on the market today.

Awakening Community Intelligence: CSA Farms as 21st-Century Cornerstones

In the shadow of increasing climate chaos, human survival requires not only the intelligent actions of individuals but also thousands of communities of human beings who have had their inate intelligence awakened and who realize the fundamental link between life and land. In this regard, Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) provides a useful and egalitarian model for sustainable food systems of the future.

‘Lucky’ Young Farmers

Farming may be the dream, but sometimes it can also be the nightmare. Balancing the good, the bad, and the ugly poses challenges.

Deerculture

Deer impact our lives, whether you're a farmer, permaculturalist, forester, hunter, vegetarian, or landscaper. According to The Nature Conservancy, "No other threat (upon forests) is greater at this point in time." So what to do?

So You Think Your City is Green? Introducing a Sustainable Cities Rating System

As the question of what it means to be “green” is becoming more frequently asked, many new rating systems have been introduced to measure the performance and sustainability of everything from appliances, food, buildings, and corporations. But what if we could rate the largest and most complex things that humans build with one methodology? The International Ecocity Framework & Standards Initiative takes on the challenge of rating cities.

Growing Up in Farm Country

HOMEGROWN Life blogger Bryce Oates reflects on how growing up in farm country impacts a student's choice for their future.

Parsnips as a Staple Crop

Though they are less popular than potatoes, carrots and turnips, parsnips are a fantastic storage veggie.

5 Steps to Our New Orchard

Here's 5 of the basic steps to how we created our small organic home orchard/edible landscape. It's a permaculture designed area that has been created with a natural landscape as inspiration, with the least amount of human input. It will host not only heritage apples but several other fruits and berries, herbs and medicinal plants.

People Are Messy

How we deal with each other’s emotional messiness.

Off-Grid and Underground

A homesteader introduces readers to his quest for a simpler life, which led to the construction of a unique underground home.

Grow Where You Are: Community Partnerships Support Local Food Production

Grow Where You Are is a social enterprise focusing on assisting communities in creating local food abundance systems. After creating small-scale urban food systems nationally and internationally for over 15 years, we see that even the most effective systems can be easily dismantled without land security. We propose supporting local growers in a transition to home ownership with a dynamic web of community partnership.

Ways To Increase Our Self-Sufficiency

Homesteading is to me to live in self-reliance, simplicity and mindfulness. To be able to do that in a way that feels true to what we believe in, I've found that it demands a narrow definition of what I put in the word enough.

Institutional Food

Hospitals traditionally are famous for their terrible food. A recent experience shows it has not changed much.

How to Keep a Critical Valve from Freezing

I used this tried and true method of preventing a valve from freezing. There was no electricity as a back-up crutch for this mission critical valve and I kept it open through the coldest February on record.

The Waiting Game

Springtime on the homestead is all about timing--getting those colorful eggs into the incubator, sneaking in a crop of spinach in the high tunnel, but also being on-the-ready for lambing season!

What America’s Most Walkable Suburb Can Teach Towns Everywhere

Suburban life has always been synonymous with long hours in the car. That’s changing now. Arlington, Virginia, shows how feet on the street helps a community thrive. Learn about how Arlington is promoting walking through city initiatives as well as 10 more cities that are striving to make their communities more walkable.

Animal Handling

How big of a priority are good animal handling facilities?

Homesteading Chores in March

Any other year in March, the homesteading chores are back in full swing after the winter break. This year, winter lasted longer than ever and it wasn't until the end I could even conceive of getting any of the usual stuff done. Here's the list of what I normally do.

Neighbors Work Together on the Suburban Frontier

Greening our homes, neighborhoods and communities depends on friends and neighbors working together. This blog will show and tell several examples of friends and neighbors greening the neighborhood.

How We Engaged the Community in Our Homestead

One of my best pieces of advice to those wishing to establish a homestead is to reach out to the community. Happy neighbors are a big part of a happy homestead and for us it was not only a way to drum up support and engagement for our project, but it was also transformative for our experience and for our business.

Back to Basics for Improved Health

Many aspects of my homesteading life lie close to what we as humans have evolved for: the outdoors, physical activity, whole food and days and years that follows the rhythm of the seasons and the sun. But there are other, less obvious biological aspects for why I believe homesteading can improve health and well being.

Two Brothers Grow, Hunt and Forage for All Their Own Food for a Year

For calendar year 2015 brothers Edmund and Garth Brown are eating only food that they have produced on their farm or bartered for from a neighbor. To do this successfully they must raise and butcher their own meat, hunt, forage, and cultivate a large vegetable garden.

What We Do Around the Homestead in February

February can be a hit or miss for us here at Deer Isle Hostel - snow and cold demands more creativity to stay busy, but also provides a great chance not to do much. Planting onions from seed, shoveling snow and planning for the Hostel season 2015 are some things I do to keep the cabin fever under control.

From Nomadic Marine Corps Family to Rooted Modern Homesteaders

This is the story of my family’s transition from a nomadic military lifestyle to one of rural homesteading. I talk about our preparation leading up to leaving the service and some of our current goals and projects for the property and our lives. I also talk about using permaculture as the design science methodology for our businesses and the development of the property.

Tips for Staying Healthy Through the Winter

Even with the daylight hours lately, we still have quite a bit of winter left. Good health – both physically and mentally – might require a little bit more effort than in the summer but can still be achieved and maintained though this homestretch before spring.

Homesteading Community

What if I find land where I can homestead but it's at a location where no one does the same thing? The lack of a homesteading community can be a discouraging factor when looking for land, but over time, if one is patient, it is very likely you'll find others that are drawn to the basic, sustaining, diverse and positive actions of homesteading.

Homesteading Simplicity

That something is easy doesn't always mean it's simple – many of the modern conveniences so much of the western world relies on, the thermostat in most conventional houses, for example, is but the end of a long and complex chain reaction with consequences far beyond our reach. Homesteading simplicity can be described as a way to limit those chain reactions, to be more in control over the effect of our actions and, to alter those effects to have a positive impact.

What We Do Around the Homestead in January

The short period of time each year where homesteaders and summer-business owners like us get to freely bask in open-ended unscheduled time is as short as it is sweet, and it reaches its peak right now in January.

Fire Takes a Homestead

After fire took her friends’ award-winning historic, renovated home only a year after its completion, Ilene White Freedman asks “Who will rebuild their spirits?” A follow-up to her post about the home's renovation.

Changing the World One Decision at a Time

Up against China, the tar sand extraction, dysfunctional global summits and the endless cry for economic growth, any individual's actions to halt global warming might seem insignificant. But conscious decisions that bring us closer to nature can make a difference and might be the best we can do.

Urban Community Green Spaces

Urban community green spaces are an essential component of our built environment. Their significance is becoming more and more apparent to city planners and urban residences all over the United States.

Kiva Zip's Innovative Approach to Lending

In conventional lending, underwriting decisions are based on averages, and algorithms, credit scores and cashflows. They do not reflect a would-be borrower’s character, and are un-nuanced — “black and white.” Kiva Zip, a non-profit based in San Francisco, is pioneering an innovative, character-based approach to lending that allows for a more colorful underwriting canvass.

Processing a Deer

I never butchered a deer before, having always spent the money to have someone else do it. But I discovered it is surprisingly easy and worth the extra effort.

A Quick Guide to Reclaiming Your Garden's Soil

A newly acquired garden or an over-spent allotment can have poor-quality soil, making it more difficult to manage and use, and leading to potential problems for those wishing to grow a new lush, green lawn or plant some daffodils, crocus or hyacinths bulbs in the spring.

Seed School

The most basic part of food is the seed. Learn to grow and save your own. You can do this at home, but if you want to further hone your skills, attend Seed School.

Natural Conditions Beyond Our Control

Being a homesteader and living off the land often means being subjected to natural conditions beyond our control, sometimes predictable changes of seasons and temperatures, other times curve balls such as unseen pest pressure, hard frosts in late May or heavy snow in early November. A lifestyle where these natural circumstances is the main determining factor for what gets done when is getting increasingly rarer – humans have gained what some consider an advantage by manipulating the world into a state where we, in many ways, can remain unaffected from the forces of nature.

'Food Is Free' Project Losing Their Teaching Farm

The Food is Free Project has inspired thousands of individuals, families and groups around the globe to start front yard free gardens to share with friends and neighbors. They are losing their teaching farm.

Guidelines for Establishing an Orchard

The new apple orchard we're planning for our homestead won't be the classical lawn-layout most people are accustomed to. Our edible landscape will mimic a natural landscape with the goal to reduce interference such as spraying while providing organic fruit, berries and herbs for many months of many years.

Eco-Friendly Gardening Tips for Any Season

This blog post explores eco-friendly gardening tips to refreshing your garden tools, furniture, accessories and outbuildings without the need to buy mass-manufactured goods or use harmful chemical treatments.

Taxpayers Save on Solar Energy With Green Businesses

Sun Light and Power, a solar installation co signed a deal with SolED to offer Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) in the State of California. This will help public or government buildings get these deals and save tax monies.

Facing the Homesteading Rewards

As homesteaders, all the homesteading rewards are directly ours to keep and our work provides most of our necessities but the multiple returns we get from our homestead also give us what money couldn't buy, such as the self reliance, sense of security, dignity, the beautiful place where we spend our days and the choice to set our own schedule.

How to Grow and Use Heirloom Ground Cherries

Ground cherries were once a popular staple in backyard gardens. Urbanization and lost space to grow our food led to ground cherries falling out of favor. Though older folks may remember eating ground cherry jam, they’ve only recently begun reappearing at farmers markets and in seed catalogs. Ground cherries are easy to grow and pack an unusual flavor punch in jams, pies, savory sauces.

Great Ways to Increase Your Harvest

The actual footprint of a garden is only one of many factors for how much food that can be produced there. With succession planting, good soil and some planning the same garden area can produce substantially more food.

Last Chance to Sow Cool-Weather Vegetables

Consider planting these three categories of vegetable crops during late summer and fall: Warm weather crops that will die with frost. Cool weather crops that grow well in spring and fall, but don’t thrive in your summer. Cold-hardy crops to grow over the winter and get off to a fast start in early spring.

Downy Mildew Variety Trials at Twin Oaks Seed Farm

We are trialing 135 varieties of cucumber, winter squash and muskmelon - with a focus on Downy Mildew resistance and fruit quality. An introduction to our trials and to the importance of variety trials in general.

A Homesteader's 5 Favorite Gardening Tools

A good gardening tool is lightweight, ergonomically correct and has a positive impact on the soil. We only use hand tools (non-powered) in our gardens since we find that we can get the job done easier and more efficiently with a more correct impact on the soil and less impact on our bodies than we would with any machines.

A College Degree No Longer a Guarantee

We are currently facing a job crisis. Most jobs available today require specific skills and not college diplomas. Congress recently passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act which should help train workers but fails to take note of the booming green job market.

A Changed Life

How a single purchase of a magazine in newsprint in 1970 changed my life.

Fit Farmers for the Future

In a post-carbon agriculture, much of the work of growing food will be done through physical labor and one in six of us will need to have our hands in the dirt. How do we foster a new generation of 50 million fit farmers?

Food Is Free Project

The Food Is Free Project has become a food revolution in Austin, Texas

A New Blogger at The Farm Community

For more than 40 years, The Farm Community in Tennessee has been on the forefront of farming, gardening and the green lifestyle.

Compost-Heated Outdoor Shower

Here at Deer Isle Hostel, Maine, we use a compost pile built with local, natural materials and a 100-foot water pipe to create a steaming hot shower.

Community Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia

When traveling, consider checking out the community gardens in the area. You can meet local people who are passionate about gardening and learn about the climate and crops that may be different than yours.

How We Grow Tomatoes at Deer Isle Hostel

Few other vegetables represent summer as a sun-ripe, homegrown tomato does.This is how we raise and plant tomatoes at the Deer Isle Hostel and Homestead.

Gardening With Mushrooms

Fungi breakdown organic material and make it available to plants. Encouraging fungi to grow naturally, or inocculating your soil can have tremendous benefits for your garden.

Moving Toward an Ecology-Based Economy

As the planetary ecology falters, and finite resources are depleted, communities everywhere will be challenged to create vibrant local economies that function within and help to renew local ecosystems.

Preparing for Seed Saving at Twin Oaks Seed Farm

Twin Oaks Seed Farm’s focus has been producing seeds on contract for a handful of small seed companies. The author discusses involvement in starting a new cooperative retail seed project, Common Wealth Seed Growers.

Composting Toilets: From Waste Stream to Resource River

Making our own compost is not only a way to meet our need of fertilizer, it's also a way to redirect the garden scraps, chicken manure, leaves and grass cuttings from the waste stream to the resource river. Another area where this applies around our homestead, is our use of a composting toilet. For us, the difference between what goes down a flushing toilet and what accumulates in the buckets in the outhouse is the difference between waste and resource.

'The Farm Then and Now' by Douglas Stevenson

"The Farm Then and Now" by Douglas Stevenson tells the story of The Farm: an intentional community that has defied the odds, blending idealism with a practical approach to create a model for sustainable living.

Sustainable Happiness, Sustainable Homestead

A homestead is about so much more than just mindful ways of producing one's needs; the health of the land and landscape is nothing if the health of the homesteader isn't there. The most sustainable homestead is one where the homesteaders like what they're doing and therefore will keep doing it. The self-fulfilling prophecy that we're all too busy is a highly unsustainable way to attempt sustainability, whether it's for a homestead or a summer business.

County Fair Season Is Here

HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Missouri farmer Bryce Oates traces the history of county fairs from their origins in the country life movement to his own kids' involvement.

Leave It Better Than You Found It

In many communal kitchens, may it be a hostel or a student dorm, postings are usually to be found; “Leave it nicer than when you came”, they read. That can be said to humans on earth too, to leave it better than it was. By living and working in nature, with nature, I believe that our surroundings here at the homestead are ecologically healthier, more diverse and vibrant than should we as humans not have been here.

How Big is Your Water Footprint?

Explore ways to reduce both your direct and indirect water footprint. Reducing your water footprint could make a huge different to both the environment and finances.

Five Seasons in the Rockies

Other than the four regular seasons there is a fifth season in the mountains called mud season.

Compost: The End and the New Beginning

Growing an organic garden with compost I made using natural material from our surroundings is to comply with nature's way of taking care of itself – it's to remain humble for a true and tried life cycle and acknowledge our inevitable part in and connection to life on earth.

Mountain Reflections

Taking time to reflect on the past brings renewed appreciation to the present.

Creating Your Own Mycorrhiza

The symbiotic relationship between plants and fungi are showing more than ever how life depends on life. Learn how to encourage what beneficial microbes you have in your soil for a powerful ally in your garden and fields.

Legacy of Jaime Hines

In remembrance of a dear friend and steward of the Earth, a look at how others inspire us and how their legacy sculpts us.

Financial Incentives Increase Recycling Rates

Where environmental groups claim financial incentives for recycling to be a costly and unnecessary form of expenditure, we see them as the only realistic option available which actually produces the desired effect.

Guard Your Groundwater

Protect our water supplies during National Groundwater Awareness Week by saving water at home.

Preparing Soil in Our Community Garden

Garden like the Native Americans by digging up 18-inch-diameter hills on four foot centers. Get your crops started, then worry about working the areas in between the hills.

Mobile Saunas

A compendium of modern nomadic sweats.

A Sunroom for My Chickens

Our chickens aren't fond of the snow and the wind, but we found a way to let them enjoy the sunshine from the comfort of their coop!

Earn Green By Going Green

Tips for solar advocates to invest money smartly and be part of the growing solar market

A Homesteader's Winter

A homesteader's year is over for this time. Nothing cleans the yard up as a foot of snow, and I think it's here to stay. winter on Deer Isle is great, so great I consider it something we deserve after getting through the summer, both for us as homesteaders and for us as a part of this community.

Old Ways of Processing Pork at Home

We use some old and tried techniques for how to process the meat, like curing and smoking the big cuts so they'll keep without being put in a freezer. We're constantly striving to learn new, mostly old ways of utilizing and preserving more of the pigs for our own consumption, by making headcheese, confit and lard.

A Report on Warmth

With winter beginning, these homesteaders are starting winter off cozy in their cabin.

Thrifty Ways To Use Junk Mail

Junk mail, old books and other used paper can be easily recycled into something useful. Never buy notepads or envelopes again.

Off the Grid With Solar Power

Renewable energy is often seen as a way to have it all and still feel “green” and it is indeed at a glance more environment friendly than conventional power, but no power has as low footprint as the power not used.

Remote Homesteading With Dogs

Homesteading with dogs in remote mountain living. Considerations in providing a good safe homestead environment for your cherished pets.

The Love of Local Food

One thing that gardening has done to me, as to so many others probably, is that I've started to pay attention to where the food on my plate comes from, and usually the answer is “from our garden."

Landrace Gardening: Sunroots

Sunroots are a typically-cloned crop with great potential as a locally-adapted survival-of-the-fittest landrace

Apple Abundance as a Part of Our History

There used to be, from Maine to Georgia and west to the Mississippi river, 20.000 grafted apple varieties. Today, when commercialism is king and the most known apple varieties are the 5 kinds offered in the supermarket those old varieties are worth paying attention to. As with all things around us, diversity is interesting and sustainable.

Reducing and Re-Using Around the Barnyard

The diva of re-use, Annie Warmke, talks about simple steps to take in the barn yard for re-purposing and reducing waste. After reading this article you won’t be able to think about things like llama poo or beer bottles in the same way again.

Fresh Storage of Produce

For the past few years, we've experimented with different ways of storing food fresh and now we're eating garlic, onions, squash, carrots and beets in June.

Herbal Remedies for Colds and Flu

These natural cold and flu remedies will help you build up your immune system and reduce the duration and discomfort of colds and flu.

Succession Planting for Space Saving and Season Extension

Even as far north as Maine I can harvest produce from March to December with parsnips to dig from under the frost in February without the use of row covers or a greenhouse. In some beds I do two or more succession plantings that together with the root cellar keeps me with fresh produce all year.

How to Harvest and Prepare Sunflower Seeds

As fall nears, sunflowers are beginning to die off and it's time to harvest their seeds! In this post I bring you through the steps to harvest and prepare your sunflower seeds for eating!

A Vision for a Better World, Part 2

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.

A Vision for a Better World, Part 1

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.

Why We Raise Our Own Meat

There are many benefits with raising pigs for meat, and also some common sense ways of doing so in a sustainable way.

Hosteling At Home

Having a hostel of your own, gives you the best of both worlds; the comfort of home with the vibration of travelers.

The Many Benefits of Half the Oil

We can cut projected U.S. oil use in half over the next 20 years and create more than 1 million jobs, reduce annual oil spending by $550 billion, and eliminate 2 billion metric tons of global warming emissions per year by 2035.

Maple Field Milk: Full-Tilt Farming

Dairyman Nick Snelgar reflects on the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health certification process and bagging hay for winter on his UK dairy farm.

Find Local Food

These online tools can help you find the best sources for local food, including local farmers markets and community-supported agriculture programs.

Unplugged: From City Life to Off-Grid Homestead

How did Victoria Redhed Miller and husband David end up living on an off-grid homestead in the foothills of Washington State's Olympic mountains? Grid? What grid? Electricity was something one took for granted; it came from those outlets on the walls. I was hardly aware of it except during one of the infrequent power outages.

Spray Day: DIY Natural Fabric Spritz

There are some things that you just aren’t going to wash very often, like your curtains, couch cushions, and probably even your favorite jeans. To spare the air, concoct a simple essential oil-infused linen spray, and spritz away until your definition of what “clean” smells like shifts permanently.

Children in the Garden

Allowing children the space to discover the beauty and wonder of plants through tending to their own garden builds character, teaches responsibility, gives insight into the beauty of nature and fosters their connection with where their food comes from.

Why We Farm

It is a regular occurrence, a question we're asked: Why do we do all this work?

Growing the Garden Footprint

This year is the first season I had the whole garden dug and ready and boy, it's easy to plant a garden when the garden is already there.

Mountain Living in the Springtime

Spring time is a time to experience the newness of life and living in the Sangre de Cristo mountains amid the wildflowers, birds, green woods and new birth.

Building a Sustainable Farm Business Operation

You can start a productive small farm business rather quickly if you use a business operations approach from the beginning. You may have what it takes if you own some property and are willing to work hard for successful results. Farming is also a practice in which traits like patience and persistence come in handy when everything goes wrong at the same time. These are all parts of the farming business and should be considered valuable lessons learned because they are only attained by experience.

Hostel Homestead Economy Part II

For me, homesteading means to not have a great need for money in the first place. It also means that the money one does need is being made by utilizing the land, as in our case, running the Hostel.

How to Run a Small Business

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.

Determining Drought History

Tree rings tell the tale. It is nice and green here now but our plants and weeds are acclimated to semi arid and have deep roots.

Sunshine Tea

Making great sunshine tea is easy if you follow a few simple guidelines for contents, quantities, and water.

An ‘Elemental’ Undertaking: Environmental Film Humanizes the Eco-Warrior

There’s more than one way to be an environmental warrior. And some approaches work better than others. Elemental follows the stories of three environmental advocates united by their deep connection with nature and driven to confront some of the most dire ecological issues affecting their respective communities. This isn’t only a story about plight and pollution, however. Rather, Gayatri Roshan’s and Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee’s documentary works best as a character-driven study of eco-activism’s do’s and don’ts.

Young People Are Driving Less

Driving patterns now closely resemble those from 1995, as young drivers are finding alternative forms of transportation.

'Ride the Future Tour' Aims to Promote Green Travel

Ride the Future Tour, a 43-day cross-country trip in electric vehicles, will start July 4 in South Carolina. Event organizers hope to build awareness for green transportation and break a few records along the way.

Michigan Attacks Heritage Hogs; Farmers Fight Back

It has been fifteen months since heritage breed hog farmer Mark Baker sued the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to stop the implementation of an invasive species order (ISO). The swine ISO supposedly targeted feral swine but could be applied to any domestic pig not raised in confinement. Baker has yet to have his day in court and it is still not settled when his trial will take place. It is common for lawsuits like this to turn into wars of attrition; the state has virtually unlimited resources while the farmers are bled of theirs over the course of the litigation.