If you are starting out as a beginner farmer or homesteader, or dreaming of becoming one, chances are you’re craving guidance. I felt the same exact way four years ago as I set out to put action to my values. Maybe you were inspired because you want to be a part of the climate solution, or you want to feed your community and family the healthiest food possible, or you want to learn to be more responsible for your food - maybe it’s all of the above!
Regardless of your reasons for wanting to get into farming and/or homesteading, you need the well-won knowledge from other farmers and homesteaders to help light the way. I can tell you I’ve read countless books, articles, and blogs on the subject and there are a definite few that have helped shape me. In this blog post, I want to share the top five books to help get you started with farming or homesteading.
Before we dive in, I want to pass on to you the single best piece of advice I was given as I started reading farming and homesteading books...
Sustainability In The Press:
The company Morning Star plans to veganize all its products by 2021. They cite that more people are going plant-based in the face of climate change (and those surveys they cite range from 3% of the population actually being vegan to 39% of the population wanting to be vegan). So they are nixing eggs and dairy in their vegetarian products and adding in what to compensate for protein? More soy. That soy is not organic or non-GMO, meaning it still lives in a monocropping system which still contributes to climate change.
India has set high standards for its renewable energy plan for 2019. New installations this calendar year will reach nearly 14 gigawatts, which is about 50% more than the capacity added last year. While the plan faces challenges as residents struggle with the high prices of rooftop solar additions, commercial and industrial buildings are stepping up to carry the load.
Trader Joe’s responded to a petition with over 91,000 customers’ signatures asking for less nonrecyclable plastic with their products. At this point they have made noticeable strides in phasing out single-use plastic shopping bags, replacing plastic produce bags with compostable ones, and eliminating styrofoam packaging within the produce section. Next, they plan on phasing out produce wrapped or bagged in plastic, nixing styrofoam in their meat packaging, and much more.
Michael Bloomberg is not running for president in 2020, but he is launching a campaign to help curb climate change. The letter he penned is one that will pull at your liberal heartstrings, but what excites me most is that he aims to throw all his weight behind the Beyond Coal campaign in hopes of retiring every single coal-fired power plant over the next 11 years.
Written by Wisconsin regenerative farmer, Steve Heyer, this editorial piece in The Wisconsin State Farmer is not to be missed. He discusses why the regulatory laws written by seemingly farm-friendly organizations like the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) are actually extremely prohibitive to small regenerative farmers. As a small regenerative farmer myself, I can attest to this. We have our hands tied not only by the regulatory nature of our state’s licensing, but the cost of land near urban centers to expand our operation. How are small diversified farms to provide nutrient-dense and ecologically-friendly food to urban centers when both state and federal levels of government are not truly on their side?
Sustainability Podcast To Listen To:
The Positively Green Podcast: Episode 10 Why you don't have to go vegan to live a sustainable lifestyle.
Food Heroes Podcast: Episode 25 Amelia Franklin BeanLedger on fighting to protect the global coffee supply chain from climate change.
Green Dreamer Podcast: Episode 112 Alex Weindling on how lab-grown diamonds are disrupting the diamond mining industry for the better.
Having three cats, Paul and I are constantly covered in pet hair. I can't tell you how many lint rollers and sticky papers we have thrown in the garbage in our cat-owning lifetime. I finally dug my heels in and went looking for a sustainable solution that actually works. Then, the heavens parted and I found Redecker's Lint Brush (know that I was not sponsored to post this, but this is an affiliate link). I was nervous because some of the reviews said it wasn't effective, but we found it simply takes an extra few swipes across your clothes (where a sticky lint roller would take one) to remove lint and pet hair. You can read more about our experience with it here on the blog.
Sign up below to be sent "This Week in Sustainability." Staying informed and being a part of the conversation are integral in the fight to curb climate change. Thank you for being a force for good!
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Creating a laundry routine that is zero-waste and toxin-free is totally possible. Doing laundry in a more eco-friendly way was one of the first things we tried on our sustainable living journey - with amazing results! From natural DIY laundry detergent to cutting our dryer time down to save on our energy bill to even finding a zero waste solution for a lint roller - you can easily do laundry with your health and the earth’s health in mind.
On this episode of the Positively Green Podcast, we discuss why you don’t have to go vegan to live a sustainable lifestyle. This episode has come at the request of many of our listeners, as well as being born out of the necessity to start a more open dialogue about eating meat and raising livestock in the face of climate change.
This podcast was born out of a bad review for the show, believe it or not. The review said:
"I was pretty pumped for a green podcast to drop. Listening to the first few minutes of them talking about raising animals to eat their eggs was confusing. There are many reports with supporting researching showing that the least green thing we can do is support and promote any type of animal agriculture, organic or not."
Before you tune in, we have a bit of a disclaimer. Eating is very personal. People feel like they are being personally attacked sometimes when they are told something about the way they choose to eat. We can feel threatened when the reasons we choose to eat a certain way are challenged - this happens to us even too. If this episode triggers you and you feel the need to put us down or call us names to feel better about yourself, please don’t waste your energy. If on the other hand you are looking to have a good conversation and reach out to us about something, please do use your energy for that!
Defending Beef by Nicolette Hahn Niman
Fresh Fruit Broken Bodies by Seth Holmes
Allan Savory’s TED Talk
Dr. Kelly Brogan “Red Meat For Your Depression”
Psst! Becca is trying TreeBird Floss and loving it
I am so jazzed to be launching This Week In Sustainability. Every Friday, I be sharing a quick write up here on the blog on what's happening in sustainability around the world. Some will be good news, some will be not so good news. Staying informed and being a part of the conversation are integral in the fight to curb climate change.
I'll provide a bit of my opinion here and there, but these weekly updates are here for you to educate yourself and form your own opinion. By all means, comment below if something strikes a chord with you.
Sustainability In The Press:
Australia is set to plant 1 billion trees by 2050 in hopes of bringing down carbon emissions. The only flaw is that they are in a dry and unstable climate. As California has taught us, it takes only one uncontrollable forest fire to burn that carbon back into the atmosphere, as a study in 2018 pointed out. Nevertheless, it’s the thought that counts, right?
When we legally protect our wildlife in the face of species die-off, like sea turtles, we see populations increase by 980%. Let’s do more of this.
California’s Central Valley unleashed seven electric mail to deliver our mail, pioneering a program that could help cut down on carbon emissions.
The EPA says it’s going to final study two dangerous chemicals in our drinking water and possibly set limits. I think Senator Tom Carper of Delaware (D) says it best, “While the E.P.A. acts with the utmost urgency to repeal regulations, the agency ambles with complacency when it comes to taking real steps to protect the water we drink and the air we breathe.”
Wallace Broecker, the scientist who originally coined the phrase "global warming" passed away last Monday. Let’s hope his life’s work has not been in vain.
Sustainability Podcasts To Listen To:
Episode 115 of The Green Dreamer Podcast: Relearning marginalized ideas of food storage in tackling plastic pollution with Sarah Kaeck, the founder of Bees Wrap.
Paul and I have cut back on eating large ocean fish and taking fish oil supplements and swapped it out for eating sustainability harvested wild-caught sardines once or twice a week. Why? Not only does it cut down on mercury toxicity, but it also lessens our contribution to overfishing during a marked decline of large ocean fish populations due in part to climate change.
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In this episode of the Positively Green Podcast, Kelsey and Becca share all their tips on how to have a sustainable, ethical, and zero-waste wedding. Kelsey is currently planning her wedding and compiled all the research she has done, from ethical engagement ring companies to how to reduce food waste at the reception.
If you want all this amazing green wedding info in one place, be sure to grab Kelsey’s free Green Wedding Guide!
Throwing a sustainable, zero-waste, and ethical wedding does not have to feel impossible. I created this guide as a way to help put all the options in one place. I am currently planning my own wedding and I am so excited to share the eco-friendly an zero-waste options you have at your disposal, hah, you see what I did there?
If you are here as a new bride, congrats! If your here because you want to get your research done before the ring is on your finger, awesome! Take a moment and give yourself a pat on the back for caring enough about the earth to learn how to go about a green wedding.
I want to preface this guide by saying I worked as a wedding photographer for a decade in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois. I’ve photographed over 100 couples and thus have seen a lot of different types of weddings, and in turn, have seen first-hand the amount of waste that is produced from the average wedding day. Even then, when I wasn’t the conscious consumer I am today, it raised a red flag in my mind.
A 130 person wedding on average produces 62 tons of carbon dioxide and 400-600 lbs of waste. These numbers include everything from the wedding invitations to the flowers to the wedding dress.
An opposition arises when you try to have an earth-friendly wedding within the confines of modern wedding culture. We are constantly bombarded by pictures and ideas on Pinterest of perfect personalized weddings with all the trimmings. Then you have the concept of zero waste, which can feel so minimal and bare, making a bride feel like there’s very little wiggle room to make it feel special for herself and her guests.
The good news is that there are so many options for making your day feel special while still achieving an earth-conscious wedding. Once you understand the basics of having a green wedding then you can choose your own adventure from there.
In this guide, we will go over the options you have from finding an ethical engagement ring to where you can buy an eco-friendly wedding dress. While we talk over these options, I’ll provide you with what I’m choosing for my low to no-waste wedding so that you have some experience to fall back on and you know you are not alone as you plan your own big day.
The Green Wedding Guide covers:
Happy green wedding planning!
We did a three-day fast safely and effectively and the results were surprising. I want to share our fasting experience with you in hopes of demystifying fasting and ultimately give you the tools to try it for yourself.
First things first, if you have a significant other, it will be a million times easier to complete the three-day fast if they do it with you. Imagine you are on day two of not eating and your partner cooks up some pastured bacon and eggs in the morning. I swear to you that you will not last. Paul and I did our fasts together and it helped immensely to be able to share the experience with someone. Send your partner this post to encourage them to try it with you!
For those of us who deal with dysmenorrhea, aka periods from the seventh circle of hell, I’ve got a good line up of zero-waste and holistic period pain management options for you. When PMS rears its ugly head for many of us ladies, the conventional options are all we feel we have at our disposal to help manage the pain.
Thanks to my endometriosis, I’ve tweaked and tested so many snake oil remedies out there and have weeded out the ludicrous. I know every lady is different, but I hope some of these suggestions can bring you relief as you journey towards a more sustainable and zero-waste lifestyle.
In my first post we talked about why it's important to have a toxin-free and eco-friendly menstruation cycle, in my second post we chatted about what zero-waste options you have for menstruation, and this final post covers all things period pain management. Enjoy!
In this episode, Becca and Kelsey discuss the top five body products you should swap now. Our skin is our biggest organ, and what we put on it definitely affects our health. Finding non-toxic products that are both effective and trustworthy can be difficult. That's why Kelsey and Becca share their tried and true favorites with you.
Thanks for stopping by Green Willow Homestead! From chicken rearing to composting, we've got our hands full and we love sharing what we've learned along the way. Follow along as we strive to live sustainably and turn these five acres from just property to a fully functioning small-scale homestead.
Grab the Ebook
1. Joe Salatin
2. Rachel Carson
3. Wendell Berry
4. Temple Grandin
5. Diana Rodgers
6. Bea Johnson
7. Allan Savory
Favorite Books of 2019
1. Restoration Agriculture
3. A Sand County Almanac
4. The Small Scale Poultry Flock
5. Deep Work