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...
Read the book twice.
Why? The first time through, the book will grip you emotionally, your right brain is going to understand the information given, your gut is going to respond. When you read the book a second time, your head gets on board, the left brain lights up and starts chugging away. You remember statistics, numbers, figures - you know, the more concrete and actionable content that’s going to get you off your couch and out into the field.
Please note: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you end up clicking and purchasing an item. I worked hard to find my trusted favorites and I want to share them with you so you don't have to deal with all the crappy junk I had to go through. Nuff said
For beginner sustainable farmers and homesteaders there are multiple resources at your fingertips to successfully break ground on your farm, but often you are juggling advice between a dozen different books, articles, and magazines. I remember the stack of information on my coffee table four years ago as I planned and dreamed my way to the first planted heirloom popcorn seed. From accounting to basic soil science, there was so much to know as a wannabe farmer and I was more than overwhelmed. I remember wishing there was a basic manual to teach new farmers the first principles of having a farm.
Start Your Farm achieves exactly that. The authors Forrest Pritchard and Ellen Polishuk are not only incredible farmers but gifted writers as well. It was an honor to be asked to leave a review for their book. You can read my full review here!
In the last year of his life, Gene Logsdon reflects on the landscape of farming. This love letter to beginner farmers and homesteaders is one that will wrap your soil loving soul in a tough love hug. Heading the words of contrary farmers that have come before us will help each and every one of us face the farming lifestyle with balance and aplomb. From Gene’s hope for farming in the future to the reflections of farming in the past, this book will help you navigate and give voice to your own reasons for getting into farming with clarity and grace.
As an aspiring or beginner farmer or homesteader, I’m sure many of your opinions run counter to what our modern day culture purport as normal. In this book, Joel Salatin discusses how far removed we’ve become as a society from the realities of growing food. When I read this book five years ago, hand to god, Joel’s word resonated so deeply with me I had to agree out loud. My partner would look at me from across the room with raised eyebrows and I would just harrumph and shake my head. What I love most about this book is the small practical ways Joel shares on how you can get more connected with your food - the perfect tips and tricks to share with potential farm and homestead customers.
An all-inclusive guide on how to make decisions on a farm or homestead which intersect the needs of your community, the environment, your wellbeing, and your financial viability. Allan Savory is like the ultimate conductor, sharing all the ways in which your land is connected with the world around it and how you can use it to be a force for good. We’ve used the Holistic Management method on our farm with success. What that looks like for us is expanding our flock and our infrastructure while protecting the ecosystem and feeling balanced as individuals. It’s the most comprehensive framework I’ve discovered, but know that this text is dense and requires deep work to implement the methodologies properly.
While this isn’t a true nuts and bolts guide to permaculture-based farming, it is a call-to-action for potential producers to consider the failings of conventional agriculture in the face of climate change. Mark Shepard provides well-researched ideas to support the farmer, rancher, or backyard gardener to grow their own food, fiber, medicine, and fuel. It gave me a much clearer understanding of what’s at stake with the current state of farming and it lit a fire under my butt to keep fighting the good fight for regenerative agriculture.
Truth be told, I’ve read over 150 books on farming, homesteading, gardening, and the like (the only reason I know this is because I added up my library book reading history and my Amazon purchases). Some of these books were true gold and have shaped me as a farmer, others were a surprising waste of time when I could have been reading something better.
I want to share the top books that were total game changers for me as a self-taught farmer, so I created The 25 Best Books For Beginner Farmers and Homesteaders for you. This is the ultimate list that crosses all playing fields when it comes to farming and homesteading. I’m talking about books that taught me how to easily go from 9 to 90 chickens in one year, how to grow 300 lbs of squash in one growing season, and how to more deeply and confidently understand my place in the world as a farmer and homesteader. To get your hands on it, sign up below and I’ll email the list to 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