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The Green Life: Book Roundup Wednesday: Homesteading

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March 09, 2011

Book Roundup Wednesday: Homesteading

Books about environmentalism Every Wednesday, we review a selection of new and upcoming books addressing a specific aspect of environmentalism. Today we're recommending books about homesteading. In the woods, in the city, wherever you live, there are meaningful ways to make your lifestyle more self-sufficient, more sustainable, and more fun. 

The Ultimate Guide to Homesteading: An Encyclopedia of Independent Living (by Nicole Faires, $15, Skyhorse Publishing, 2011): A compendium of skills for self-sufficiency and survival, this book contains answers to just about every practical question you might have about homesteading. Author Nicole Faires grew up in a homeschooling, homesteading family and now makes her home in a retrofitted Bluebird bus. Having walked the talk for the better part of her life, she’s no neophyte to the nitty-gritty business of building a solar oven, tending sick calves, or making your own soap, and has embellished her extensive instructions for living a self-sufficient life with detailed photos and illustrations. 

Up Tunket Road: The Education of a Modern Homesteader (by Philip Ackerman-Leist, $18, Chelsea Green Publishing, 2010): Following in the proud tradition of Scott and Helen Nearing, Philip Ackerman-Leist and his wife spent seven years as modern homesteaders in the hills of Vermont. In this memoir, he chronicles the trials and successes of an off-the-grid lifestyle and explores the philosophical underpinnings for such a choice, creating a thoughtful, literary reflection on the purpose of self-sufficient living. 

The Homesteading Handbook: A Back to Basics Guide to Growing Your Own Food, Canning, Keeping Chickens, Generating Your Own Energy, Crafting, Herbal Medicine, and More (by Abigail R. Gehring, $15, Skyhorse Publishing, 2011): This is the latest of Abigail Gehring’s numerous books on alternative, sustainable lifestyles, and is being published in tandem with The Homesteading Handbook: a Guide to Buying and Working Land, Raising Livestock, Enjoying Your Harvest, Household Skills and Crafts, and More (by Abigail R. Gehring, $15, Skyhorse Publishing, 2011). You’ll find advice on foraging for wild edibles, generating energy from hand-built alternative sources, and eating or preserving everything that might conceivably grow in your garden. For the truly dedicated, there are step-by-step instructions for building your own log cabin, from felling the trees to sealing the cracks.  

City Chicks: Keeping Micro-flocks of Chickens as Garden Helpers, Compost Makers, Bio-recyclers, and Local Food Producers (by Patricia L. Foreman, $23, Good Earth Publications, 2010): Chickens are, without a doubt, the flagship species of the urban farming movement. They’re saucy, productive, and come in shapes and colors to suit any aesthetic preference. This is a thorough guide to raising and maintaining your own flock, starting a home “eggribusiness” (selling eggs should your hens produce too many), and understanding how these charming birds fit into the larger picture of a local, healthy food system. 

Urban Homesteading: Heirloom Skills for Sustainable Living (by Rachel Kaplan and K. Ruby Bloom, $17, Skyhorse Publishing, 2011): While many of the homesteading guides available are geared toward people in rural places, this one’s for those of us who spend most of our days on concrete rather than grass. The book is divided into five sections, each of which covers a different aspect of urban homesteading — from the practical (raising chickens, rabbits, or bees in an urban setting) to the lofty (building community through caring for common resources). With this comprehensive guide, the Northern California-based authors make a case for self-sufficient living as the basis for a “global re-imagining of culture."  

--Zoë J. Sheldon

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