Leaving the City, Garden Way Carts, and Other Wisdom From Helen and Scott Nearing

In this installment of an ongoing feature, Helen and Scott Nearing offer a favorable opinion of Garden Way carts and blunt advice about the rigors of homesteading to a couple who are thinking about leaving the city.

| September/October 1979

  • 059-Scott-Nearing.jpg
    Scott Nearing meeting with a visitor.

  • 059-Scott-Nearing.jpg

The following are questions readers submitted to Helen and Scott Nearing in their regular column on homesteading.  

Leaving the City

Q: My husband and I would dearly love to become homesteaders (or at least we believe we would). We've lived in the city all our lives. We don't know anything about country life, but we'd like to try it. How should we go about making the change to rural living? My husband only makes $6,000 a year, and I stay at home with our one-year-old daughter. I doubt if we could get a loan for land. Perhaps you could give us some insights.  

A: If you're just toying with the idea of living on the land, the wisest thing for you to do would be to stay in town. It takes grit, perseverance, and know-how to succeed at homesteading. Contrary to common opinion, the back-to-the-land life isn't an undertaking for incompetent dropouts. It takes considerable time and talent ... and—in the beginning—an outlay of working capital.

Homesteading is a real change of lifestyle, and we wouldn't advise anyone to go into it without a serious commitment. You can't just flirt with the idea. You've got to know what you're about and be prepared to invest large blocks of time and energy to produce results.

For example: When our garden wire fence rusted out after 10 years of use, we faced the problem of buying a new fence or building a stone wall around the garden. We decided in favor of the wall and spent the next 14 years building it. That was a serious commitment, although it only required a few hours a day of our time over the years.

We also lived in an old wooden house in Maine for 20 years while we put together plans, materials, and capital to build our present new stone house. Rome was not built in a day. You must make your plans, work hard to complete them, and stick to the job. If you do so, you can accomplish your goals.


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