Rural Jobs: Make a Living in Your Rural Community or from a Homestead Business

It’s possible to have a successful homestead business or patchwork of rural jobs far from the daily grind of urban and suburban offices. Backwoods breadwinners can make a living working for a niche rural business, or by starting a community-supported agriculture program or cottage food enterprise from home.

| February/March 2016

The readers of MOTHER’s pages are drawn to simpler, hands-on lives that reimagine the 9-to-5, cubicle-enclosed lifestyle. They choose instead to find fulfilling work by repairing a trusty piece of equipment, clearing a garden of weeds, or creating a functional table from scrap wood. Care to join them? You may desire to live in the country on some acreage or in a small, quiet town. We hear from many of you, however, that making the switch to living out your rural homesteading dreams is a challenge. Often, the biggest obstacle is a lack of dollars and sense — you need money and inventiveness to support a homestead.

This feature is dedicated to exploring the diverse methods of making ends meet — whether you’re way out in the sticks or settled in a rural community. We’ve compiled the research and experience of several successful modern homesteaders who have made it work, each by following a unique path.

Beginning with jobs in small towns and rural areas, Ann Larkin Hansen provides an overview of full- and part-time positions, along with seasonal employment opportunities that rural residents can patch together to make a comfortable living. From elder care to grain mill operation, there’s something for everyone.

Next, author and DIY expert Steve Maxwell explains how digital-savvy readers can make a living from their laptops. He calls these homesteading technophiles “digital peasants” because of their ability to couple old-time skills with modern technology.

Cam Mather, another longtime MOTHER EARTH NEWS contributor, details how he and his wife make ends meet by running a 50-member community-supported agriculture (CSA) program. Finally, we round out the article with advice from the exemplary entrepreneurial couple John Ivanko and Lisa Kivirist. Co-authors of nearly a dozen books and innkeepers at Inn Serendipity, this team tackles how to make a living from your kitchen with a cottage food enterprise. We hope these stories and practical pieces of advice will inspire ideas for how you, too, can earn income creatively and independently.

Small-Town and Rural Jobs

You’ve got to have some cash.

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