Our 2012 Homesteaders of the Year: Living the Good Life Through Modern Homesteading

These seven families offer inspiring examples of modern homesteading, including a dedication to building self-reliant communities in both rural and urban settings.


| August/September 2012



Dirt Road

The path to self-reliance can be just as rewarding as the ultimate goal. This is one of many lessons learned by our 2012 Homesteaders of the Year.


PHOTO: TIM CONLIN

We are now accepting nominations for our 2013 Homesteaders of the Year! Please send a 500-word description of a friend, family or neighbor you think deserves to be one of our honored homesteaders to Letters@MotherEarthNews.com with the subject line "Homesteaders of the Year." You can also send nominations by mail to Homesteaders of the Year; c/o MOTHER EARTH NEWS; 1503 SW 42nd St.; Topeka, KS 66609. Please include at least three photos showing the nominees and their homestead activities with your nomination.  

The word “homesteading” may conjure images of families lined up in front of a sod house, a mule hitched to a plow working the fields in the background. Such pioneers truly labored for their livelihood, sweating to construct homes, produce food, haul water and raise animals. Modern homesteading doesn’t fit that description, but those who choose it have the same can-do attitude and have found new ways of living the good life.

Last fall, when MOTHER EARTH NEWS called for nominations for our 2012 Homesteaders of the Year contest, we never could’ve predicted the variety of do-it-yourselfers we’d hear about. From families on 100-plus acres in rural Canada to couples in tiny homes on one-third-acre plots in a bustling metropolis, all kinds of self-reliant folks from across North America were nominated.

The nominees have incredible green thumbs — growing large veggie gardens and tending orchards. For most, food preservation is a constant activity — freezing, dehydrating, canning and storing food in a root cellar. Many of these modern homesteaders supplement their gardens with local products and raise poultry and livestock for eggs, meat, dairy and manure.

A big part of self-reliance for many of the nominees involves energy efficiency. Remodels and upgrades to turn an old house into a more energy-efficient home were common, as were hand-built homes powered by renewable energy sources.

One of the most inspiring qualities of nearly all the nominees is their dedication to building more self-reliant communities. Many modern homesteaders share their passion with neighbors by teaching classes, volunteering, giving tours of their homes and gardens, or even just by living the good life their own way — setting an example for neighbors, friends and family.

rose bartiss
9/6/2012 1:43:54 PM

I find it odd that all the "Homesteaders of the Year" have professional careers off the homestead and do not actually live off their land. What exactly is your definition of "homesteader" if it does not include actually living off the land???


patsy melton
8/1/2012 10:37:15 PM

Too bad you couldn't find any southern homesteads to feature. We believe in self sufficiency and sustainable energy and farming practices, too.






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