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Rachel Kaplan’s Urban Homesteading book is almost here!

Urban Homesteading: Heirloom Skills for Sustainable Living

Urban Homesteading: Heirloom Skills for Sustainable Living

Rachel Kaplan is a farmer and mother and therapist and urban homesteader and a darn good writer. She’s written a new book called Urban Homesteading: Heirloom Skills for Sustainable Living. I’ve had a chance to read the preview PDF, and it is impressive. Every page has at least one lush color photo, the writing is clear and accessible, and the topic is near and dear to my heart.

In the slightly more than three pages dedicated specifically to chickens (in a section titled “Chickens are the New Black,” love it!) there are 8 lovely photos of coops, nesting boxes, and a creative tunnel run that would be a great “chicken subway” to move your chooks from their coop to a garden bed or area you wanted them to focus their attention on (photo after the jump). Just scanning the photos and reading the captions is informative and inspiring.

The book covers an impressive array of homesteading topics, as expressed in an urban context. Most of what has been written previously about homesteading is focused on a much larger scale, the 5 to 10 acre farm. Rachel demonstrates what can be done in a small backyard, in extra yard space at the neighbors, or in a community garden. Her book is also current, reflecting the needs and dreams of the latest generation of homesteaders, with information on community organizing, powering down, and growing your own medicine.

It helps that many of my friends are profiled, including Trathen Heckman of Daily Acts Organization, a non-profit based in Petaluma, CA where I am currently the board chair. Trathen’s house and impressive front yard transformation, from small lawn to ample food forest, is well documented.

~UPDATE: I now have the book and it is gorgeous! The photos really pop, get your copy now! ~

There are many great quotes, and I especially love this quote from Richard Powell, it expresses a life philosophy at the core of Urban Homesteading, and I imagine, at the core of life for many of us:

Nurture all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect. To accept these realities is to accept contentment as the maturation of happiness, and to acknowledge that clarity and grace can be found in genuine unvarnished existence. Filled with subtlety and depth, this way is a river flowing toward and away from you, and always within you.

More photos from Rachel’s excellent book here –>

Chicken tunnel from Urban Homesteading

Chicken tunnel from Urban Homesteading

This is a great idea, the wire tunnel that can contain and direct your chickens to a specific area of your yard or garden. It’s easy to step over, could be easily moved, and I think it would be the neatest thing to turn your backyard into a classroom-style, gerbil-complex series of runs and tunnels. OK, maybe that would be too much, but a chicken’s got to have a dream, yes?


The pictures are fantabulous, they really pop from the page. I love the current form of homesteading that the authors portray, the way it’s evolved from books like John Seymour’s Guide to Self Sufficiency (I have a copy that was my grandfathers, printed in 1976 with a foreword by E.F. Schumacher), from an old English guy malting barley to Jewish women in Oakland, CA culturing cukes. The focus on community organizing and personal ecology, as well as the fact that it’s focused in my backyard add to my enjoyment.

I have been into this stuff professionally for more than 20 years now and have read several hundred books on homesteading, permaculture, farming and gardening, etc, etc, so I’m a little hard to please. I’m mostly interested in design solutions that people have actually implemented, so I loved Nic Bertulis’ “pee-ponics” and “poo-ponics,” the chicken tunnel thing (to the right), the dual purpose water catcher and clothes line was great, and I love to see backyard transformations. So the authors caught my interest and kept me learning throughout, no small task. Well done!

1 comment to Rachel Kaplan’s Urban Homesteading book is almost here!

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