Bringing the ‘good life’ home

For LiveWell
Thursday, March 02, 2017

When the folks at MainStreet BookEnds think about home improvement, we move immediately into how to make our homes more a place for recuperation, safety from the storm and joy.

That means more books, of course, more game nights, less technology and enjoying the peace and quiet of family, friends and neighbors, and time of solitude. These are some of our all-time, go-to favorite books about making your home more self-sustaining, growing more of your own food, reducing your need for fossil fuels, and living closer to the “good life.”

The Good Life

We start off with the “bible” of living off the land, The Good Life; Helen and Scott Nearing’s Sixty Years of Self-Sufficient Living. They abandoned city life in 1932 to live as self-sufficient as possible, with little money and learning the skills of rural life, eventually homesteading in Harborside, Maine. It is all here, all the philosophy with practical skills needed to inspire.

The Nourishing Homestead

A modern day version, but this time with kids in tow, is The Nourishing Homestead; One Back-to-the-Land Family’s Plan for Cultivating Soil, Skills, and Spirit by Ben and Penny Hewitt. This Vermont family works to create satisfying, permanent, nourishing relationships with the land, nature and one another. From the building of the house, to the fields and gardens, to the animals and creating nutritious meals, this is a great hands-on guide for making a dream homestead a reality.

Compact Cabins

Compact Cabins by Gerald Rowan is great for generating house-building inspiration. It includes 63 plans for building camps, simple cottages, lake houses and getaway spots. All the designs are energy efficient, low cost, green and keep it small and cozy.

Woodland Homestead

The Woodland Homestead is written by Brett McLeod, a professor of forestry at Paul Smith’s College in upstate New York. This book is all the practical tips for making your land more productive by living off the resources found right in your own woods. Chock full of illustrations and useful advice, he takes you through raising animals and getting them to do the work for you, growing vegetables and berries and nuts, harvesting and replenishing your firewood, and making the tools you need to make the work lighter.

Woodchuck series

On March 26, during Warner’s Maple Weekend as we celebrate all things syrupy and muddy, MainStreet BookEnds will welcome Vermont organic gardener and author Ron Krupp to the bookstore to discuss his books and everything you need to get started with your own garden, right now! His first book, The Woodchuck’s Guide to Gardening, tells of 30 years learning the ins and outs, full of New England common sense for the gardener of all abilities. He also delves into foraging, planting by the stars, putting food by, and gardening with children.

In his newest book, The Woodchuck Returns to Gardening, he dives even further into the practical knowledge for the vegetables, fruits and berries that we all yearn to have right in our home gardens. Krupp is one of the “gardening gurus” for these times. Join him and learn all you need to get started or to get further inspiration in your gardening venture on March 26 at 2 p.m.

(Katharine Nevins is co-owner of MainStreet BookEnds of Warner, an independent, family-run, community bookstore since 1998.)