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June 25, 2008 4:59 AM   Subscribe

Geeky DIY Homesteading

For years now I've dreamed of purchasing a bunch of acreage in rural PA and learning how to 'hack' the land and nature. That is, I want to maximize the energy output from the land (using wind, geothermal, solar, other). I also want to maximize the food output from the land (with emphasis on quality and variety, not endless rows of corn). Then, try to figure out some effective and novel things to do with the surplus energy, as well as experiment with various survival techniques.

Basically I'm interested in how to use modern (but sustainable) technology, science, and engineering knowledge (and folk tech, when applicable) in order to maximize rural survival.

My question is not so much how to do this, as I realize that the scope is gigantic. But, instead I want to connect with other people who have had experience in this area. And the more 'underground' the knowledge, the better.

I found this site for a survivalist-type group: Alpha Rubicon , and they seem to have some interesting projects on their site. However, I'm not that big into gun and defense culture. Of course, I have nothing against guns, really, it's just not my focus. Plus, I'm not sure I have the dedication at the moment to commit to their level of expectation. As I would like to gradually experiment with these concepts over the next 5, 10 years, gradually increasing my knowledge and discipline.

So, what are some forums or social-networking groups that I can join to obtain this type of knowledge? How can I meet people like this (of the more peace-loving, hippy, independent, self-reliant, technology-friendly mold)? And how do I get access to restricted project plans and such things (like at the alpharubicon site)?
posted by brandnew to Technology (11 answers total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
Mother Earth News has been at the forefront of this community for at least 40 years. That's probably the place you should start.
posted by JJ86 at 5:38 AM on June 25, 2008

Countryside & Small Stock Journal. Written by its subscribers, who are already at work on your project.
posted by bricoleur at 6:00 AM on June 25, 2008

Try Ran Prieur's landblog.

Also, you'll want to get the bible of this kind of stuff: The Permaculture Design Manual. Permaculture is definitely something to check out if you're interested in the things you mentioned.
posted by symbollocks at 6:13 AM on June 25, 2008

Here's a blog of someone who lives near me that has the same outlook as you. He's an IT guy who is now living off-grid. Lots of good links on his site, and none of the religious/doomsday slant of some other homesteaders. They have a few yahoo group forums that look pretty active.
posted by saffry at 6:15 AM on June 25, 2008

Although I don't think you'll be able to afford it on this scale, you might look into the Environmental Studies Building on the Oberlin campus. Ohio and PA have similar climates and you might be able to adopt some of the more functional ideas from the building for your own.
posted by plinth at 6:21 AM on June 25, 2008

You might enjoy reading Farewell My Subaru (a book). It's not "survivalist" as much as a desire to kick the oil habit, go back to basics and live sustainably.
posted by O9scar at 6:49 AM on June 25, 2008

Check out the Foxfire Magazine, which has also been bound into books that are available at major bookstores. Not only will they explain a lot of how to live on the land, they also make reference to places that offer classes and use this kind of knowledge. Hopefully you would find organizations in your area to contact.
posted by vytae at 9:26 AM on June 25, 2008

Seconding "Countryside & Small Stock Journal" -- great, great magazine, only a small bit of which is online on their website. Worth a subscription to the print version, definitely.
posted by Asparagirl at 9:37 AM on June 25, 2008

this blog, homegrownevolution, discusses homesteading in a more urban environment but it does apply to what you seem to be seeking (they also have a book that was just published.
posted by violetk at 10:32 AM on June 25, 2008

Here's a few sites I've filed away over the years that you may find useful

Backwoods Home site and magazine - lots of articles on self-reliant/self-sufficient living has a wide variety of articles on outdoor lore, alternative energy sources, self-employment ideas, keeping livestock, etc.

various survival and self-sufficency resources - this site has a fairly, um, tin foil hat bent to it, but there's some useful stuff too, poke around

Old Timer's Page (bunch of how to's - how to make soap, butter, cured ham, etc.)

Some books that may be worthwhile:

Storey's Basic Country Skills, by John and Martha Storey

Encyclopedia of Country Living, by Carla Emery

The Good Life, by Helen and Scott Nearing (my main source of inspiration to be more self-sufficient)

Nthing Countryside magazine; I've had a subscription for years. Mother Earth News can sometimes be good, but it's not the magazine it once was.

Good luck!
posted by medeine at 11:44 AM on June 25, 2008

Countryside is great. I would also take a look at Home Power. Very geeky, does solar, microhydro (my particular lust), wind, etc.
posted by QIbHom at 7:46 PM on June 25, 2008

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