Living The Good Life With Helen and Scott Nearing

Learn how Helen and Scott Nearing became completely self-sufficient while homesteading in Vermont.

| March/April 1977


Helen and Scott Nearing share keys to good health in their book, Living the Good Life. They have been living on their homestead in Vermont since 1932 when they left the city for a more economic self-sufficiency lifestyle.


There's an old Spanish proverb which holds that, "The best revenge is to live well." And if that's true, then Helen and Scott Nearing, (without ever having been vengeful at all) have had — and still have — the very best revenge of all.  

Because the Nearings have lived quite well indeed in all the ways that really matter. And they have done it entirely on their own terms and at their own pace. And they have done it far longer (Helen is 74 and Scott is 93) than most of their detractors ever have or ever will.  

The folks here in MOTHER's offices, of course, have long admired the Nearings' self-reliant, stand-up-for-what's-right, we'll-vote-with-our-lives way of living.  

Helen and Scott Nearing have been living today's counterculture for better than a generation. Almost four decades ago (in 1932), the couple "dropped out" to a rockscrabble mountain farm in Vermont's Green Mountains where they spent the next 20 years rebuilding the soil, constructing solid homestead buildings from native stone, growing their own food, heating with wood they cut by hand, and co-authoring numerous books and magazine articles. Tick off any of the present's most "in" passions — women's lib, equal rights, organic gardening, vegetarianism, radicalism, homesteading, subsistence farming, ecology — and you'll find that the Nearings have been doing instead of talking for 40 years. 

In 1952, when "developers" began despoiling the slopes around them for a ski resort, the Nearings sold their Vermont farm, moved to a remote Maine cape and began all over again ... clearing brush, building honest stone structures, planting vigorous gardens, and — in general — making their place in the world on a soul-satisfying, sweat-of-the-brow basis. 

Helen and Scott Nearing — then — are hardworking, proud people who pay their dues, think for themselves, and stand on their own two feet ... exactly the kind of folks that "made this country great." Salt of the earth. Rugged individuals. People who stand up for what's right. The Great American Dream Couple. Folks who would be honored in every corner of this nation, well, yes and no. The Nearings most certainly have paid their dues and taken stand after lonely stand for their vision of right ... only to find that truth, justice, honor, decency — even simple rational thought — can be a highly suspicious commodity here in The Land Of The Free and The Home Of The Brave. 

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