The Owner Built Home and Homestead Introduction: How To Homestead

Ken Kern provides an introduction to his series The Owner Built Homestead focusing on how to homestead successfully.

| September/October 1970

Ken Kern, author of The Owner-Built Home and The Owner-Built Homestead, is an amazing fellow and everyone interested in decentralist, back-to-the-land, rational living should know of his work. Back in 1948 he began collecting information on low-cost, simple and natural construction materials and techniques. He combed the world for ideas, tried them and started writing about his experiments. Eventually, Mildred Loomis started publishing Kern's articles in The Interpreter, Way Out and Green Revolution. Ken has also issued a three year series of pieces (called Technic) on his own and a greenhouse-sun pit design of his has been featured in Organic Gardening. 

This series of Ken Kern's work is being taken both from The Owner-Built Home (already published) and The Owner-Built Homestead (to be published). 


It has been ten years since I first started writing The Owner-Built Home. At the outset of writing this first book there was some suggestion to expand it to include home food production along with the central theme of home shelter production. At that time the "back to the land" sentiment was all but dead in this country. So I brushed off the suggestion, and awaited with others an economic depression to revive the attitude of economic self-reliance. Theoretically, when great numbers of people lose their jobs and have only breadlines and welfare handouts to look to for sustenance, they will then consider, perhaps, home food-production. So for all these years I've been waiting for the expected catastrophe: It would highlight a widespread social need and orient my research effort toward fulfilling this need.

The kind of economic depression we pictured never, as you know. came off. On the contrary, purchasing power and employment in this country reached an all time high. But something far more serious has occurred; the beginnings of a world revolution. The past ten years has witnessed a many-sided challenge to the whole military-financial-urban-real-estate complex. The student rebellion, the minority revolts, the breakdown of urban America, and the mounting concern for the environment have led to an increasing exodus to the country-side.

More and more, retired and semi-retired people are looking to the small acreage. They are literally driven there by urban sprawl, noise, smog, high taxes, and inflation. The chaotic political state of the world stimulates many people to search for a more meaningful and natural value system.

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