Three Book Giveaway: Build The Life You Really Want

An advertising agency in Chicago used to pay Lisa Kivirist one big paycheck. Now, hundreds of people pay her lots of very small ones. All these little paychecks – over a thousand last year – allow Lisa, her husband John and their son to live the life they want: rural, sustainable and meaningful.

People write Lisa little checks for a few farmstand vegetables, or for a copy of one of the books she’s co-authored with her husband, or for a weekend away at the rural, award-winning “carbon negative” Wisconsin inn her family operates.

At the end of the year, her utility company writes her a check for all the solar and wind energy she’s generated on-site and fed back to the grid.

It’s a frugal life – Lisa says her family income is below federal poverty level – but it’s a rich life. It’s rich in time with those closest to her, and in community. Much of the food she eats and serves to her Inn Serendipity guests is grown on her own five acre organic farm – and it’s the kind of food you only get to eat when you grow it and preserve it yourself.

Lisa combines the proud heritage of practical Midwestern frugality with a deep passion for environmental and entrepreneurial stewardship. She is active in promoting female farmers and what she calls “ecopreneurialism” – finding creative ways to make a living while honoring her “triple bottom line” of people, planet and profit.

I was so inspired by the two workshops Lisa led at the Mother Earth News Fair I recently attended that I stalked her at the handwashing sinks of the ladies restroom (true story-and yeah, maybe a little weird but I had to meet this woman!) to ask her how she became an Ecopreneur, and how other people looking to build a more sustainable life for themselves on their own terms could make it happen.

Lisa presenting at the Mother Earth News Fair discusses ways to reduce food costs.

Here’s what I learned.

Rethink Your Life Equation: Where Do You Really Want To Be?

In her early 20s, Lisa and John found themselves living in the city, paying city-rent prices, putting in hours at the office to pay for long-weekend “get-aways” in rural Wisconsin. These weekends in the country became so frequent that they asked themselves if they could swap their definition of “away.”

Could they live in the rural communities that spoke to them and think of a periodic weekend in the city, eating ethnic food and taking in fast-paced urban amenities, as the vacation instead of the daily life?

Lisa and John rolled the dice, and decided to build their life in the country. They were willing to give up short term comforts to make that happen, and continue to be willing to prioritize the essentials daily.

To make their dream of rural acreage a reality, Lisa and her husband focused on reducing expenses, paying off debt and saving to buy the land that would become their 5 acre farm.

1,000 Little Paychecks: Stitching Together An Income Quilt

Lisa’s long-term goal was to generate income on farm but not necessarily solely from farming. This concept, of making your living in your place without becoming a full-time, full-scale farmer, is something that appeals deeply to me, and to many other people I suspect. To do this, they built multiple income streams, selling goods and services and education in small bites to hundreds of people.

Slowly they built a sustaining, diversified income of what Lisa calls her “thousand little paychecks.” Now, sixteen years later, the dozens of ventures and projects – bed and breakfast, speaking, books, farmstand produce and more – have patching into a financial quilt that provides Lisa and her family with as much as they need while allowing them to live a life they feel proud of.

Lisa and her husband John build a sustainable income and lifestyle, together.

Recapturing Money, Recapturing Energy

In order to ensure their income quilt cover their expenses, Lisa continues to focus on getting the details right when it comes to expenses.

She is thoughtful about the details of frugality. In one of Lisa’s Mother Earth News Fair presentations, she laid out two scenarios for cooking a meal with some frozen, blanched spinach taken from the freezer.

In both scenarios, money and energy have been expended to grow or buy the spinach, package it, freeze it and keep it frozen.

In the first scenario, the meal (say, Spinach and Feta Spanakopita) is planned in advance and the spinach is pulled from the freezer and thawed slowly in the refrigerator, over several days. In this way, the cold contained within the frozen item is released into the refrigerator, helping to cool other things in the fridge. The spinach thaws, and everything else stays cool with less work from the refrigerator. The money and energy used to freeze the spinach is partially recaptured with only a small amount of planning.

In the second scenario, the spinach is pulled from the freezer 15 minutes or so before dinner. Because it is frozen solid, the dinner-maker pops it in the microwave to defrost it.  Now, not only has the potential cooling savings of the frozen spinach been lost, but yet more energy and money have to be poured into thawing it.

It’s The Little Things…

As simple and obvious as the spinach-thawing example is, it was a total light-bulb moment for me. No big changes are required to pull this off: no switching to an all-plant diet or only buying packaged food on double coupon days. All that’s required is paying a giving a bit more attention and a bit more care to the ways you do what you already do. I love that. That’s how we all make changes that last anyway.

Heeding to the details of conservation and frugality (frugality is nothing more than conservation of money, after all) allow Lisa and her family to live the life they want. Thawing spinach slowly in the fridge is just one small way she recaptures money and energy. Investing in on-site, grid-tied solar and wind energy solutions that pay her back is another, slightly larger example of the same concept.

By not scorning those little slips of income, and by paying attention to little details of frugality, Lisa and her family have pieced together a sustainable economic quilt that makes a lower-impact, lower-income lifestyle possible, pleasant and inspirational.

Yes But How Do I Do It? The Build The Life You Really Want Three Book Giveaway

Lisa and John have written several books dedicated to helping people make the same transition they made in moving to a more thoughtful, sustainable lifestyle. I am thrilled to offer a giveaway here of their three most recent, sponsored by New Society Publishers, the publishing house for all three.

The winner of this giveaway will receive one copy of each of the following:


Farmstead Chef – This is a homegrown, handmade cookbook for people who eat and cook like they mean it. The food isn’t flashy, but it is impressive. Seasonal and solution-oriented (zucchini glut anyone?), these recipes are made for those with a garden or a farmers market addiction. Interwoven amongst the food is the philosophy of thoughtful eating and mindful consumption, but without a lick of preachiness.

Rural Renaissance – The more detailed story of how Lisa and John traded cubical jockying for farm freedom, Rural Renaissance is part philosophical blueprint for a lighter lifestyle and part how to manual to lower your impact and your bills.

Ecopreneuring: Putting Purpose and the Planet Before Profits – Details the how’s and why’s of running a sustainable business. Lisa and John talk about honoring the three “Ps”- people, planet and profit, and make the case that you can live your values while still making a living.

To enter to win all three books leave a comment below telling me what your dream “on farm” job would be. If just generating income weren’t an issue, what work would you find fulfilling that would allow you to work from a low-impact home base?

Contest closes 8 pm Friday August 10 (You have two weeks guys, spread the word!) and is open to residents in the U.S. and Canada. Winner will be contacted by email by Monday August 13th. Only one entry per person will be counted. Good luck!

Update: Contest now closed. Winner will be notified by email. Thank you for entering.


  1. says

    First, you should move to the island…just sayin’.

    My on farm job would be to create an online magazine for women. Ha! It is a great creative outlet, can be done at any hour (our ALL some days), connects you to some of THE most amazing women (ahem!) and at any moment, I can drop work to be there for my kids. Now to make it a money maker.

    I would really love to get this set of books. Each one offers something for me!

    Btw, Bang Bang….Zucchini. Another reason to eat THE SAUCE.

  2. Judith says

    My ideal on-farm job would be homesteading, and teaching self-sufficiency to kids! I can envision a very small B&B also.

    I have a small lot in a “green” development, on which I’d like to build a tiny cob house to live in, or straw-bale–something with a very small carbon footprint, solar power and perhaps wind power–I’m on a hill–created mostly from local, free, cheap and used materials. I’d like to be an example of how to live well in a tiny house that cost very little to build and uses little power to heat, cool, etc. I want a garden that can supply most of my food, fruit trees, chickens and possibly goats for milk and cheese. My neighborhood is surrounded by little developments of middle and low income housing, and I would love to provide a place for children to learn how to raise their own food, whether it is a formal after-school program or just letting the neighbor kids come over when they want to help and learn. Everything will be organically raised on my little homestead.

    I think it’s crucial for young people to learn how to grow real food from their own yards, save money, and create a local, sustainable, non-GMO food economy. If some of the kids are really interested, they could turn mini-farming into an income. I’d love to also start a community garden somewhere in the nearby town, or help others to do so. The local economy is depressed, and community gardens could be very helpful.

    I can imagine building a tiny cob guest house where guests could participate in the daily activities of a small homestead. The development has walking trails, a small pond, and a community garden space, and is near a large recreation area/park and university towns, so there would be much to do for my guests. They may be interested in learning about cob construction, solar power, etc.

    My big challenge is how to get from here to there!

  3. says

    I suspect it’d be making jam and/or writing, just like at least one other previous commenter (and I’m sure many others to follow.)

  4. Brennan says

    Great share!

    My dream “on farm” job would be to combine a farm and/or urban homesteading operation with a summer camp, creating a place where children and families can come to live, laugh, learn, and have fun for the week. I like the idea of offering people a chance to live in community and get a feel for the sun-up to sun-down lifestyle of living in closer relation to the Earth, the cycles of food production, the rhythms of the day, and shared dreams of people from all different lifestyles. The creative work and effort of sowing, growing, cultivating, and composting would be balanced by traditional camp-like camaraderie and goofiness.

  5. Sara says

    I love this post and the books sound amazing. Gardening and canning are two things I do already, but on a very small scale on my postage stamp lot. I would love to have a bit more room along with chickens and bees. Someday!

  6. says

    Oh man…. My dream life would include so much! We have a smallish plot of land, about 20 acres, and I just cannot wait to build a house on it. I would love to own some kind of bakery or coffee shop, or something between the 2, making homemade goods and yummy food for the community. I would love to provide my business with great local food, grown on our land, eggs from our chickens, etc. I would love to provide for my family a quiet and simple way of life, one that is not complicated by all of the things in the city, such as making enough money just to live in the city….

    And if all of this didn’t work out, I would still love to be able to provide my family with enough food from our land to be able to eat throughout the year. Sounds simple, but its what I want…

  7. Jessica Mc. says

    My dream is to move from my little two room studio apartment in the heart of the city to a small farm where I can design a garden for food that I love to eat and I can work in the soil until I am exhausted.

  8. says

    That’s a good question!
    I have very simple dreams at this point. I just enjoy the idea of providing fresh organic food food for my family from our garden or ‘farm.’ I think it would be fun to sell the surplus somehow to make a little extra money someday. I enjoy canning and would like to incorporate that more. And I also enjoy sharing my experiences on my blog – it gives me an outlet to share and I also hope it encourages others to know how easy it can be to explore the idea of being more self-sufficient.

  9. Linda McHenry says

    The idea of living a sustainable rural life hearkens back to my ’60’s yearnings for communal living. However at my age, 65, that bus has left the station. I am now working toward a frugal sustainable dotage. This will mean giving up my “urban homesteading” life……we have chickens, bees and a sizable garden on a 50×185 city lot, however life does happen and adjustments need to be made.
    My financial affairs are in order, I am currently “downsizing” to the bare minimum of material possessions, the house and car will be sold and my plan is to move to a city dwelling, light filled and with a roof garden. I will spend my days, gardening, cooking, reading, needlework, the occasional political protest and entertaining my grandchildren. It does sound like a little bit of heaven, doesn’t it.

  10. SHardy says

    We actually already plan to do something like this. I currently work remotely (a fancy word for working from home), and our goal is to keep that going when we finally are able to get a house, and then *crosses fingers* farm :)

  11. Mari says

    Brennan and I had the same idea. A summer camp that would have a farm and livestock to feed the kids and help them learn about where food comes from but in a traditional summer camp setting with all the fun and activities that come with that. The farming and food aspect would be just part of the experience along with arts and crafts, swimming, boating, campfires and all sorts of fun! Oh man, my mind is reeling with ideas now!!!

  12. says

    I’d love to be home with my kid (and maybe have another), have a few animals, a big garden, and blog about it all to generate revenue!

  13. Blair says

    I would love to stay at home and play in the dirt all day. Garden time is my time to reflect and pay my respects to the world around me.

  14. Karen says

    My onsite job would be multi-fold.
    I am getting a home with acreage but have little gadening knowledge. I have a few friends who are having trouble making ends meet, yet are wonderful gardeners without land(paying for the priviledge). I would open up my land to them and grow a communal garden where we work together and share the bounty. Also as therapy for elder relatives who need the activity/stimulation to stay out of a nursing home…
    My other passion is to learn to heal thru herbs and natural foods. I would love to be able to make teas, salves and tinctures from herbs and plants I grow or forage.

  15. Jessica says

    I want to see school gardens, even it places where that would mean a greenhouse (solar powered, maybe?). My totally unrealistic dream is to have something like Living with the Land at Epcot. I don’t think that greenhouse is very green, but I wonder how hard it would be to make it sustainable. It would be awesome to raise a new generation of gardeners, and I feel like it could even be profitable. If there’s one thing yuppies love, it’s buying organic vegetables from inner city kids.

  16. andrea says

    Ahh…the same dream as always. Tending things. Tending to the needs of loved ones and the plants and animals that sustain us. Creating a haven in our home. Working side by side with my husband rather than each of us going off to our separate jobs.

    How to do this and make a living has been question of the year for us.

  17. polly says

    permacultural educational-retreat-farm-b&b for people to come, learn, heal. leading by example and making full use of the quilt :)

  18. Amy says

    Hosting groups of families for weekly meetings about greif – not as a therapist, but providing a safe place for children and their parents who are mourning the loss of loved ones to meet others in the same situation and to share their feelings – to actually honestly discuss what they are going through. I have volunteered at places that do this and I loved it more than I can tell. Being part of the process of grief and healing in someone’s life is powerful. I would love, LOVE to be more of an integral part of this sort of thing and actually host it. Provide that safe place for people to connect, share and heal.

  19. says

    My dream “on farm” job would actually be a combination of jobs. I dream of raising pastured livestock and selling just enough to cover the costs to provide us with free pastured meats. I dream of having a large enough vegetable garden to permit us to store excess for winter use. I dream of raising sheep and earning an income by selling the fleece, finished felted products, hand dyed roving, and homespun yarns.

    In my dream I wouldn’t need much in the way of income because my dream would also having me living on a 40 acre parcel that’s completely paid off and we’d be self-reliant producing our own energy on site.

  20. says

    Like Ann-Marie, my ideal farm job would definitely involve canning the food I grew myself. Ideally I would like to teach others the skills my grandma taught me … unfortunately those lessons didn’t stick and I’m now teaching them to myself now!

  21. says

    My dream “on farm” job isn’t really a job, in my mind. I want a big enough garden that almost all of our vegetables and a good portion of our fruits are grown on the property we’re saving up for. I want enough time to forage for wild berries, which my state has plenty of! I want chickens, and possibly a couple of goats. More cats, more dogs. Tending all of this seems like the perfect job to me! Not only would it be low impact, it would be low-income and that would be just fine by me.
    As for income, I already have my “dream” second job–I perform in the pit orchestra for local musicals and operas. Getting paid (a very, very tiny amount) to make music is the best thing ever!

  22. Karen D says

    My first step, chickens. Second, increase ‘garden’ space and grow & can more veggies. (I used to pressure can salsa on a campstove.) Third, grow my own grains for breadmaking.

  23. says

    My dream job on the farm would be making sure everything was running smoothly–seeds were planted when it was time, produced was picked and processed when ripe, animals were fed when it was time. Yes, it’s vital that someone actually DO these things, but like anything else, someone needs to ensure that things are occuring when needed. (And as a mom, I have LOTS of experience with that!)

  24. says

    Although I love living in the city, if I did have a farm, it would ideally be located reasonably close to a low-income community and my ideal job would be to start a non-profit venture of some sort that teaches adults and kids how to grow their own orgranic food by giving them space on my farm. (So I guess that means my night job would be grant-writing LOL.)

  25. Tamara says

    Erica, we are working towards being self-sustainable with the garden, chickens, turkeys, pigs, and soon a cow and calf. Any info or inspiration towards that goal would be awesome! We still have to work outside jobs but have been able to cut back some. Love your blogs!!

  26. says

    As a Master Food Preserver, my ideal situation on the farm wouldn’t be so much canning the goods as teaching people how to do it. As a writer, that teaching would include written materials, poetry and prose about making the rural life part of the urban mentality. As a classically trained chef and lover of people and service, I would want to share my food (mostly baked goods) with guests, so a B&B model would be ideal. And as a photographer, I would create beautiful images of my natural environment, going big with expansivelandscapes and zeroing in on the small details of beauty that are everywhere when we stop to look.

    But mostly, I would teach people, share with people, feed people and then document it as beautifully as I could.

  27. says

    Rather than beat my head against the wall wishing I had a bigger lot somewhere more rural, I’m turning my generously-sized city lot into my own farming paradise … chickens, compost, sidewalk farmstand … one piece at a time to make our home in the city become off the grid. I’m thinking about the 10-year plan … solar, water catchment, self-watering chickens, no-mow lawn (i.e. 50s front yard lawn becomes cut-flower farm with a meadow). Rather than try to squeeze a Tiny Tumbleweed cottage in the backyard, I’ll convert the Tuff-Shed into my personal paradise, and become the crazy-lady-living-in-her-backyard. So, living large with what we have …

    • says

      By the way … I just ordered the books from the library, so if I ‘win’, spin the number generator again and let someone else take them home. Thanks for the opportunity to share my thoughts, though!

  28. says

    I would live as close to the river or ocean as I could, and create beautiful furniture out of driftwood. I started doing that on Etsy, but it doesn’t bring in too much income. I would love to spend the days doing it, it’s so much fun and relaxing..

    I would also start a used book swap. Bring a used book and swap it out for another one that interests you.

  29. Martha says

    Sounds idyllic…
    My dream involves a fruit-producing farm with chickens (and bees). The eggs will be used with the fruit for organic baked goods, mostly pies…the smell of freshly baked pie on a daily basis, bliss!

  30. says

    my big dream is to have a dairy goat farm and make my calendula goats milk soap. maybe some cheeses :) one day, i tell ya, one day…

  31. Nick says

    I’d be in charge of the sheep, but only so that I could work with herding dogs. I’d probably work (extremely) part-time as an attorney on the side to generate some cash for the things we couldn’t grow/make/trade.

  32. says

    If I could do farm work, I’d love it. My ideal would be to do a little bit of everything. I doubt this would happen like it does with my office job but I don’t mind working really hard (physically or mentally) as long as I can switch it up and do something different each day. No more monotonous paper pushing :) The best job I’ve ever had was working in a science lab where I was actually standing up and DOING something!

  33. Jen Teal says

    Perfect timing on this post! I needed the pick-me-up today! I’d create a series of teaching programs for teens focused on healthy lifestyles, financial responsibility, and alternative ways of defining success. Organizing neighbor exchanges of goods would be another cool way to expand the satisfaction from our suburban farming experiments.

  34. says

    This is exactly what we’re looking at. Right now we’re working on getting out of debt and then hoping that at least one of us can quit our jobs and start a farm and also look into agritourism. To me it’s all about getting in the soil to grow food. I love growing food and I want to share what I grow with others. I also want more time for art. I used to be a sculptor and potter but no longer have the means or the time to do it and I miss it terribly. And of course, more time to write. :)

  35. says

    I like to do a little of everything, and I’ve noticed that I get way more done when other people are around, so I dream of creating my own little community where my and several other like-minded families help each other with the big chores and everybody participates in child care, and meals would often be communal. We’d each contribute what we’re good at and learn from each other. I have a feeling that what I envision used to be quite common, even if current society sees it as odd or suspicious, lol.

  36. says

    My dream farm job would be a small farm with vegetables, fruits & animals to supply my family with food for the year and have enough excess to sell at farmers’ markets. Of donate the excess to local food pantries and teach preservation classes. This isn’t really my dream though, it will happen on of these years :)

  37. says

    I would love to run an experiential and educational after school program and summer camp based around our eventual farm tying in science, health (mind, body and spirit), nutrition and a general appreciation and respect for nature. Ideally, these programs would serve children 4(ish) to 18.

    I also have ideas for a B&B :-)

    Yes, the quilt idea is wonderful :-)

  38. Kelly Hebb says

    I would love to garden, make soaps and blog about all of it. All the while teaching my children to depend on themsselves.

  39. Sara Monroe says

    My dream is to one day leave the city, where I grow food, compost, etc. on a small scale. And have some land to grow. I want chickens, goats and rabbits. Go to sleep every night tired but Exhilerated from working my little piece of heaven!

  40. Mimi says

    My dream “on the farm” job would be writing fiction full time and owning a book store.

  41. LaRue Cobb says

    I would love to just be able to stay at home and do more of what I already do-gardening, cooking, canning, and then I would throw in some chickens, rabbits and goats.

  42. says

    “You don’t have to move to change the place you live.”

    I know because I’m living on my dream farm in Oakland California. My little urban homestead provides so much for me, and yet it’s small enough for me to maintain without getting to overwhelmed. In the future? Yes, I would love to own a nice big plot of property and expand my operation.

  43. JenW says

    I’d teach freestyle weaving and other fiber arts to adults and kids, sell crafts at the market, work a variety of service jobs, and spend more time in the garden and kitchen growing and making what I’d otherwise have to buy (and earn money to pay for).

  44. Alan says

    Homesteading would mean getting out of the office and enjoying the physical and mental benefits of managing a home farm.

  45. Erin says

    My dream is to do what I do, on a larger piece of land. I grow organic veg and preserve food. My family started farming in 1830 in Canada. The area of Kilworthy Ontario is still farmed by members of my family. I would love to learn more. Farming is in my blood and in my own little way, I’m already doing it.

  46. Carri ann says

    My dream on farm job would be to teach teens and young adults how to cook simple meals using real foods – basically, I’d be doing what I wish someone had done for me! I’d also teach them the basics of how to find local sources of fresh foods, whether it be local meat, csa’s, or foraging groups.

  47. says

    Thank you for hosting this opportunity! My absolute dream is “on site” subsistence – both in terms of sustainable habits (growing food, etc) and income! Ideally I will have an “income quilt” generated from handcrafts (embroidered art, boro-style quilts, etc), homemade/homegrown edibles (jams, pestos, baked goods), and personal vacation rental (a la I’m in the midst of moving to the mountains to make my dream come true, and these books would be incredible resources!

  48. Jenny says

    What a great article! The frozen spinach story was a real thought provoker. My dream on farm job would involve chickens and show rabbits. We have a small garden area that is slowly expanding. My dream would be to grow as much food on our 1/3 acre as possible, and preserve it in such a way that we can eat all year on our harvests. The chickens would be for eggs, but the rabbits would provide some fertilizer ;-)

  49. Maggie says

    I keep thinking about starting up a native plants/edible landscaping business, and working to bring beautiful landscapes to my home city. I imagine hiring summer help from the area high schools to give kids job experience and skills that will last them a lifetime, teach water and soil conservation through workshops on native plants and grasses, and incorporate fruit and vegetable plants into municipal green spaces. And maybe raise chickens and goats for myself, for eggs, meat, and milk and to make cheese.

  50. David Lane says

    If money weren’t a factor, I would like to stay home to propagate plants and grow fruits & vegetables for sale.

  51. Tanya says

    Oh, man. If money weren’t part of it, I would so become a full time organic farmer (veggies, fruits, trees, livestock, poultry, grains, honey). Hubby would be a full time novelist, part time help-with-grunt-work farmhand. I would LOVE to get out of the city and do it! Curse you, indentured servitude (er, student loans)!

  52. says

    It was as if you wrote this post for me!!! (ok, so many people that read your blog probably feel that way) The hubs and I have a 5 year plan to do exactly what you and Lisa are talking about. We have already implemented many of the items….and we slowly add more each year. I plan to continue working mostly from home for the company I work for now that’s focus is on people, planet and profits as well. We plan to buy property within 5 years and grow an extensive garden that we can sell the excess either from the farm or local farmstand/market. What I especially want are some goats to add to my chickens. I really want milking goats so I can start making/selling cheese! (Hubs would be the full time farmer.)

  53. says

    Oh, my GAWD. You have to pick me!

    Now that I got that out – I have always had a quiet little dream of running a destination farm for weddings, events or parties that are wanting a rural, sustainable feel. I dream of a big red barn on the property that serves as wedding place and meeting place. Animals around, teaching stations in the garden and by the paddocks about what things are good for what, what we use the animals for, etc, etc. Garden paths for walking, small secluded places to sit and talk. A working farm with alpacas, sheep, subsistence gardens, wind/solar power – but all with a rustic, comfortable air.

    I would love to have a small farm shop on the property that features my soap, local crafts, alpaca and sheep fiber for knitting, local photography, etc for guests to shop and learn more about local artisans.

    Okay. Back to paperwork now. I gotta pay off those student loans so I can eventually get there one day!!!!

  54. Paula Morhardt says

    Oh, if money were not the issue, I would love to have some acres to plant native plants on, with trails and spots to sit. Then I could give tours and show people first, how well natives grow where they are supposed to, and second, how edible so called weeds really are- and the natives are prime examples. Then I could also explain how important organic is to all of this, and how people can grow native plants, organically; how people can have their ‘landscaping’ and eat it too!; and how much more nutritious native/organic plants are!

  55. Liz says

    Chickens and ducks and bees. I’d love to tend to my garden and animals and bake delicious things. That’s all! Is that so much to ask? :)

  56. says

    Dreaming, but….if we could convince my father in law to sell his walnut orchard on the Sacramento River and buy one instead on Putah Creek, closer to where we already live and that already has a farmhouse on it, that would be amazing. We could live on site and oversee the orchard for him. I’d make room for a huge veggie garden, chickens, and maybe some other animals. Husband could continue teaching, while spending summers helping with the food growing and preservation and preparing for the walnut harvest. Dreaming!!

  57. Katrina says

    What I’d love to do for income would be to make cheeses in the summer time. Have a small cheese shop where people could come to my farm, and order some raw, homemade cheese with a glass of wine and some fruit, grown on the farm of course. Then in the winter time I could spin yarn from my own sheep to sell.

  58. Tiff says

    I will start by saying, that the name of there Inn is perfect! It’s the name we gave our amazing Border collie :)
    What would I do, if I could do what I wanted? Interesting timing for this question, because I am facing that very question as of late. A life changing injury, I got at work has pushed this very question to the forefront of my Daily life. ” Tiff, what do you WANT to do, now that you CAN’T do what you used too”? Of course I know that the L&I system isn’t set up to help me get to this end point, but here is the ‘dream life’ my partner and I talk about creating out of this chapter.
    I would own enough land where I could have solar, and wind power,. We live in a county that has a great assistance program to get more people to use green power, and I would take every advantage I could of that. We life a life where ‘ giving what you got’ is a given, kinda like breathing. I have wanted to dedicate some of the land as a way to help feed the community. Whether it be a pea patch for low income or have the food banks farm it, we haven’t picked which one we would do, in a perfect life we could do both. Now as you you know I’m learning a ton, but in this dream I would be perserving more than I do know. We live a life around the concept of healing ” and I don’t mean the frou frou type!” Healing the earth, community, our selves is the foundation we step from. My partner is right on the verge of becoming a therapist and wants to do work with the tribes, with addiction, and recovery. She isn’t going to charge for this. That is a way to become a part of the solution, helping people with what we have, helps the earth. I have alway’s wanted to have a sensory garden, and will make that happen, also I would have an ” INN’ of sorts where it would be for troubled youth. Help them find the gifts of the earth, I have never found a better example of ” you reap what you sow” that in farming. It’s a healing venture if down while holding natures hand, it has helped to heal me. That’s what I want, to help ‘heal’ through farming. For income, well I would hope that we would be able to live off the food we grow, but you asked me for my ‘dream life if $ weren’t an issue. Oh and I haven’t owed a microwave in 20 years, Who knew I was ahead of the times! :)

  59. says

    Like a few others, I’d love to run children’s programs and summer camps on my farm! Some days, I also dream of running a B&B that hosts knitting retreats.

  60. says

    Oh gosh I have always had a dream of a lovely garden with little hideouts where Moms and daughters, and lovers, and best friends could stop for a while and have a cuppa and a plate of something good to eat. Of course it would be attached to a little market stall containing all my own home grown produce. This has been my dream for so long has never come to fruition – maybe these books would help! I love that spinach idea! wow! it just shows what we do so mindlessly.

  61. Lindsey says

    A garden that grows enough to be canned/frozen and dried so that we can eat from it year round, writing gardeing articles, raising sheep for yarn and knitting.

  62. says

    My on farm dream job is calf raising. We farmed for years. This was my job. I only lost 1 calf in 10 years. I really miss it. We now have goats, chickens and pigs. And a large garden.

  63. says

    It would be hard to pick just one job. Having a small farm that sustains all our food and household needs is my ultimate fantasy (no small order there). The three things that really stand out when I dream about such things are puttering in a lush garden a buzz with my own bees, growing, pressing and fermenting my own cider, and keeping a heritage sow (probably and “old spot”) that I could breed each year and sell most of the piglets to locals for market hogs, saving one or two to be raised, butchered, processed, and eaten as ham, bacon and prosciutto all without leaving our farm.

  64. says

    My dream is quieter. Writing, gospel spreading in the morning. Produce and animal husbandry by afternoon. All to be sold and bartered, modestly.

    I love the idea of lots of little paychecks. That’s a lovely way to think of it.

  65. IC says

    While I thought this speaker at the fair had some good ideas, I was so disappointed with her enthusiasm for baking with canola oil and milk powder, especially since she stressed eating the way her parents did. I doubt her Eastern European parents would even have had heard of either. Why not cook with whey (often *thrown out* by cheesemakers – think of all that could be fermented) or butter . . . they’re in the middle of cheese country!! Or why not freeze small amounts of milk if she had trouble using a carton before it went bad? It has to require less energy than mail ordering powedered milk processed from afar with milk that probably originally came from cows anear. Not to mention neither qualifies as real food for most people who eat close to the land – you can’t make either in your kitchen. I left the talking thinking they have a ways to go themselves before teaching others. Now the fermenting guy, he was awesome, so were the hugely mixed expressions of disgust and delight from the audience.

  66. Deon says

    Dream “farm” job, helping to create food security in urban environments, where a connection to food production and nutritious obtainable food wasn’t a trendy choice, but a simple reality.

  67. Catherine says

    I guess I’m one of the lucky ones .. I’m already living the dream and just want to expand on it and get a lot better at it! Having worked for 20 years it seemed like an easy concept to stay at home after marriage then a baby came along. How wrong! I needed more so when we moved onto 2 acres I started a small farm .. some established orchard got me started but 5 years later our family consists of 10 and 3 year old boys, a dog, 36 chickens and 3 hives of bees. We’ve added 42 fruit trees to the originial 16, a small vineyard (this year), blue berries, marion berries, raspberries, strawberries and I’m hoping to design something to train native blackberries which I discovered growing prolifically this year. I had a CSA a couple years back but realized the little one needs to get into school before I will have the spare time and devote enough of that time to the CSA to make it truly profitable. We’re living on a little slice of heaven and I’m still learning how to garden it 12 months of the year instead of simply the summer months. I’ve designed the property using the principles of NatureScaping, landscaping for wildlife. The concept of our farm is that everything is either edible for humans or wildlife (or both ideally), provides nectar for pollenators and provides shelter or nesting sites/material for wildlife. I have a rich diversity of plant material and I am always adding more when I find it especially at low or no cost. We hope to eventually lease a parcel next to ours so that we can raise a couple beef and possibly some pork but that will have to wait for right now we are busy enough living our dream and constantly adding to it. This year I am still hoping we will get my greenhouse built and next year a root cellar. I would love to eventually teach classes from the farm showing how to be sustainable, even from a small lot, harvesting rain water, starting your own veggies, growing from raised beds, preserving your home grown produce and even the best ways to use it (I love to cook and bake). Yes, I’m living my dream and just keep expanding upon it. : )

  68. deborah davila says

    My dream on farm job would be to have an urban garden with free tours for groups wanting to learn more about urban homesteading, have a small market store to generate modest income to support the operation. Blog what I know to share the information as I have received and showing others that you can survive while giving back at the same time. I am currently in a professional position and I get chronic migraines from the ongoing stress. I seek refuge in my my small garden and crochet prayer shawls for our church. At 41, I am ready for a change!

    • says

      Deborah – me too … migraines from work stress have sent me screaming from the professional world … dunno how I am going to make an income now … city-life expenses are high, but there’s a bigger pool of purchasers than in a rural setting.

  69. Kim says

    On-“farm” dream – grow our own food, have a roadside produce/egg stand, have some kind of a quilt workshop/store in the basement. Maybe my hubby would do woodworking and computer-working (there’s an interesting pairing!) All this while living in a “commune” of sorts – several families living together, sharing food, fellowship, faith, laughs, tears, and the rest of life. I’m in my early 50s and need to get this show on the road! We are currently at a crossroads in our life – my husband’s company is outsourcing more and more, we have a big mortgage on the rural “dream house” we bought 3 years ago, our youngest is nearing the end of high school, and we’re tired of the work-debt-spend-etc. cycle. The books look very interesting – I’m hoping Lisa will be at the Seven Springs MEN Fair as we have our tickets to go! Thanks for your blog – I really enjoy reading your thoughts and activities, even though we’re on the other side of the continent! –Kim in PA

  70. Jill says

    My dream farm job would have to include things we are already doing like growing our own vegetables and herbs, having bees and our newest venture of raising pastured broilers and turkeys. To this I would add hogs, grass-fed beef and aquaponics to our little homestead. My 17 yr. old is a chef in the making and I would love to be in the background helping her have the best ingredients to use in her small, organic restaurant!

  71. says

    My idea on the farm job would be to run a little B&B in which instead of individual rooms, the guests would stay in small cabins built using various alternative construction methods, such as cob, cordwood, straw bale, earth ship, earth bags, etc. Electricity would be generated using renewable energy methods, water would be collected rainwater, and composting toilets and urine collection systems would be used so the human waste could be later used to fertilize the gardens, which would provide the food fed to the guests.

  72. Cece says

    I would love to have a large garden, with bees and an orchard, and can and make our household sustainable. Then, as an on-farm job, teach kids where their food comes from. Education like that can make such a huge difference and leave lasting impression on kids. A day-camp type setup would be perfect and they eat everything from the garden/farm.

  73. Lise Wandscher says

    I’ve had a organic vegetable & herb garden for 35 plus years, so definitely gardening. A friend and I are currently trying to purchase a greenhouse and surrounding acres to expand a thriving business by offering weekend classes on “the lost arts” of organic gardening, canning, spinning, herbal healing, etc. We also want to “rent” some of the ground to folks who don’t/can’t have their own gardens (plots as small as 10′ x 10′ and up) especially to young families with children, so that the next generation can carry on the ideas and love for fresh homegrown produce. We would also like to have a shop there that would sell the produce, both fresh and canned, as well as some other homemade items. Hopefully we can make this happen, it’s been a dream of mine for so long.

  74. Mary W. says

    My dream would be to create a completely self-sufficient life in the most economic method, and then receive visitors in my home to teach workshops in each category. It would accomplish the chores that I was going to do anyway, while spreading around the knowledge that I think is most valuable in our entire society.

  75. Mary Carman says

    I would love a small homestead so I could have chickens, rabbits and goats. I currently have a very small yard and do intensive organic gardening but we are not allowed animals here. I want to also get into raising worms and mushrooms. I have an eBay business and social security, so the money part is mostly covered, also I am a seamstress, quilter and I crochet (relearning knitting too). I have learned or relearned so much from ‘Mother Earth News’ and bloggers. It’s been an amazing year of learning.

  76. says

    This has been a lifelong dream for my husband and I, but we’ve never figured out how to “make the leap.”

    We would open a bed ‘n breakfast in the beautiful northwest, where we have lived for more than 20 years. Huckleberry Harrises is the name we chose years ago and we’ve never forgotten our dream… Being able to work together, as a team, is still something we continually hope for and seek after.

    My dream job would be the “farmer” ~ raising the organic foods to sustain ourselves and bless our guests. And, to share how we grow food with others who are interested.

    My husband’s dream job would be the “chef” ~ creating delicious meals with the food grown on our farm. And, for our guests with food sensitivities or allergies ~ no problem. Everything would be gluten-free, dairy-free (with some goat or sheep cheese options available) and soy-free! Our bed ‘n breakfast would be a place that everyone could come and feel “normal” and live life to the fullest!

    And, we would have to make our home/business as sustainable as possible. It’s important to us that we are good stewards of this earth and teach others, if they so desire to learn, what they can do to make a difference, as well. So together, my husband and I dream of being “teachers”.

    If we can achieve this, it would better than “winning the lottery”… All things are possible!

  77. Kat says

    I guess I would spend my time tending my gardens and learning to be a better steward of them (planting new things, doing succession planting, etc.). I would also just love to have time to read and write and travel :)

  78. Brook Hinton says

    I am following your blog from Liberty Lake, Wa on the Idaho state line… so my perspective is a bit different. Farming is dirty and hard and never goes the way you planned. There is no sleeping in and you can’t skip chores just because the weather is bad. It’s kind of like having kids… you just manage the chaos! The joy is found in the sum of all the little accomplishments. Cruel joke, many farmers and/or their spouses work off farm to pay the bills. My on-farm dream job would be to actually BE ON-FARM. No more working as a server at night and no more daycare for my little guy…. A sustainably managed small family farm that could also serve as a venue for community education- for other farmers and for local families about the concept of sustainable agriculure and the idea that farmlands and farmers are a remarkably important natural resource. ( ok, so I would really like to get my masters while I’m farming…the food system in this country is sadly broken and somebody has to fix it… one organic egg at a time!)

  79. Doreen says

    We’ve started casually looking around for some acreage in Wisconsin (where my husband is from) because he’s only a few years away from retirement. The ultimate plan (to be accomplished in a series of tiny steps) is to grow all of our own produce and grains. I’ve been researching livestock breeds and am thinking about a couple of Irish Dexter cows for dairy and to provide an annual calf for beef. We’ve had chickens for a few years now (Barred Plymouth Rocks), and hope to expand into a couple of other breeds (Rhode Island Reds, Brahmas and Jersey Giants for meat birds). I’m also really interested in heritage turkeys, specifically the Bourbon Red, Narragansett and Midget Whites. And then of course, there are the Berkshire hogs and some trout for an experiment in aquaponics. In addition to selling excess produce, baked goods, honey and cheese, I want to get some small income from fiber animals: Jacob, Icelandic and Finn sheep as well as Angora goats. Ultimately, I guess, I want to “do it all,” one time piece at a time–just like making a quilt!

  80. says

    My on-farm dream job is actually my plan for when I “retire”. I love doing things at home – making candles, soap, jams, baking, knitting, etc. My boyfriend once suggested I should open a little farm-type store to sell all the stuff I make rather than just give it as gifts to family and friends. So one day, when we’re able to buy a suitable piece of property, that’s the plan :) I want a small orchard, a huge garden, and the time & flexibility to make what I want!

  81. Paul Bender says

    I would use the farm to teach classes on home butchering and canning and sustainable living, local foods, etc. That would be the life! Love the books, see you again at the Fair!

  82. Jen says

    Hi there – all these books look great! My dream on- farm job and what I day-dream about all day as I sit in the office (had to return to work due to my hubby’s job loss – darn economy!) is to be at home with my 4 kiddo’s and have a small farm store. I want to grow and sell fresh / dry/ and tinctured herbs as well as teas, salves, soaps, and lotions that I already make. Also to sell fresh veggies and fruits grown on the farm. Also – I want to sell books and have a small library system for my customers. And I would love to start a program in my community public school where kids learn about where their food comes from and how to save energy by doing small things. I love the frozen spinach thawing example. I am planning away and hope to make this dream a reality soon! Thank you for your inspiration – I really enjoy your blog and sense of humor!

  83. says

    We already have five acres. We’re growing our own vegetables, and have chickens and eggs, and bees. We’re hoping to have cows and pigs soon, and a small herd of meat goats. I’m looking forward to the day when I can use the products we are/will be producing ( wax, honey, goats milk, etc.) to create and sell my own brand of products like soaps, candles, lotions, and creams. I’d also like to be selling our produce and eggs, and home canned goods eventually from our own farmstand or farmer’s market. I’m going to have to hire some help to do all this!

  84. Mary Ellen says

    I would have a VERY small home and build another small building to hold classes to teach others how to live like I do. I am retired, living on a very small income, and the older, retired people who never learned how to fend for themselves, need to learn–and soon!–how to manage on little money. With chickens, a garden, simpler lifestyle, “old” age can be a wonderful time.

  85. Colleen says

    We’ve got a half acre in the city, next to a greenbelt. We’re just beginning our vegetable garden and we’ve already got chickens. I dream of buying the 1/3-acre vacant lot behind us and building a guest-house and putting in some fruit trees. But every time I go outside, I envision an outdoor portrait photography business integrated into the whole thing – with so much natural beauty and incredible light every single night just before sunset, it couldn’t be more perfect!

  86. says

    Raising enough food to be able to bring people to my land to show them how easy it is and how it can be done by almost anyone. I would love to have a ‘teaching” farm where people come and learn skills they can use and pass on.

  87. Christina Luiggi says

    I would love to have an apothecary type business based on the herbs I grow. I would have jars and jars of herbs in my shop (on my property, so customers could visit the growing herbs), to make tinctures, teas, salves, skin care, etc. I would also sell herb plants and have workshops on how to grow and use herbs. I’d include some of my craftiness in making things to hold the herbs or herb inspired items.

  88. Arrowleaf says

    My dream “on farm” job (disregarding the need for income) would be to write, photograph my farm and nature, and sell bouquets of flowers.

  89. Ann Harrison says

    My dream farm would be in SW VA or W NC. I would want about 5-10 private acres with some woods for walking, room for a large garden, chickens and a Jersey mama and calf. It will have an old farmhouse painted white, a barn, outbuildings and a stream with swimming holes.

    As an educator and spiritual guide I will offer weekend and week-long retreats for women seeking to deepen their personal spiritual practice with prayer, meditation, communion with nature and each other, art, writing, good nutrition and play.



  90. says

    My Farm Dream would consist of creating something to offer that would allow me to never have to drive off farm to an office in a blasted ice and snow storm again. I think I would like baking bread and artisian pizzas in a brick oven. I once stumbled across a home in the Upper Pennisula of MI who sold the best apricot bread made in a fire brick oven 20 feet from their home. They sold out every day they baked.

  91. says

    Wow. Judging from all the comments, there are a lot of would-be homesteaders wanting to do this very thing. Your post, and the books, sound very interesting indeed.

    I have always earned a living as a writer, and although I am underemployed right now, I’d like to continue writing, but from home. I’ve always also wanted to keep chickens. Heck, if money were no object, I’d have 2 donkeys too, simply becus I’ve always liked them. I’d have guinea hens to eat the ticks around here. I’d continue with my vegetable gardening and give away more of my produce to my neighbors. I would continue preserving garden-grown produce by freezing for winter soups and stews. I guess this is not really a job, but a lifestyle. Well, I have been experimenting making hypertufa pots. Perhaps that could turn into some sort of Craig’s List entrepreneurial gig?