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Best Homesteading Books and Courses

Do you have a friend who is a gardener or homesteader (or even wants to move in that direction)? Then this list is for them! I have a ton of fantastic sources of knowledge and inspiration for those who are passionate about this lifestyle.

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To prepare for my gardener life, I (like so many others) have bought books, watched homesteaders on YouTube and took online courses. Thus my list below is a compilation of my own books and courses, as well as those recommended by my homesteading friends or others I trust.

Click one of the links below to go straight to your fav topic!

 Gardening Books |  Homesteading Books |  Cookbooks |  Permaculture Books |  Home Living |  Food Preservation |  Raising Animals

Now, my friend Jen homesteads as much as she can on her amazing 10 acre farm in East Tennessee (up against the Smoky Mountains). We are including a little of her story below.

Big hello from Jen!

Hey folks! I’m so honored Amy asked me to write a quick note about my homesteading and gardening experience because it’s not always easy but it’s always rewarding and fun for our family.

If you’re thinking about friends who are making some changes, I want to share this book with you. I think it’s a must read for anyone thinking about growing their own food, animals or even about becoming more self sufficient.

When I decided to buy my house, I knew I wanted to live simply. Grow my food, be self reliant and eat meat that I felt I’d built a relationship with. “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” By Barbara Kingsolver is outstanding. It’s a compilation of stories, recipes and science that really makes you think about how our food is produced, how far it travels to get our tables and what we can do support local farmers if we can’t grow it ourselves. Of all the books on this page, I recommend people start with this one. Especially if someone is at a crossroads right now and really want to make a change in their household.

Jen’s gorgeous East Tennessee garden

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle – Tenth Anniversary Edition: A Year of Food Life

Below are my fav cookbooks, gardening and homesteading books and resources

living a self sufficient lifestyle

My current nighttime reading

Best Homesteading Books

The Encyclopedia of Country Living, 50th Anniversary Edition: The Original Manual for Living off the Land & Doing It Yourself

The 736 page Encyclopedia of Country Living is the end-all be-all book for serious living off the landers. I don’t know one homesteader who does not own a copy of this. If you could only choose one book out of my entire list, I would recommend this one.

Urban Homesteading: Heirloom Skills for Sustainable Living

This is another book recommended by my friend Jen. If she loves it then I love it too!

The Beginner’s Guide To Living Off The Grid

I watched Gary’s class in the Mother Earth News Fair mentioned previously. He is the real deal and offers an entire book of homesteading tips for us all.

The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre!

Both Jen and I have and love this book. It is quite informative and is a good start for those of you who want to homestead but need to stay where you are to do so.

The Solar House: Passive Heating & Cooling

Ah. I also watched one of Dan’s courses in the online fair. I consider this book to be a must own before I build my house in Central FL.

This book is not available on Amazon. Instead, you can pick it up here at Mother Earth News’ shopping site.

Best Cookbooks for Homesteaders

How to Cook Everything―Completely Revised Twentieth Anniversary Edition: Simple Recipes for Great Food

This 960 PAGE book was recommended as an excellent resource from Jen. She said she has been referring to it weekly for the past 20 years. Now THAT’S some street cred!

The Prairie Homestead Cookbook: Simple Recipes for Heritage Cooking in Any Kitchen
The Creative Kitchen: Seasonal Plant Based Recipes for Meals, Drinks, Crafts, Body & Home Care

Top Gardening Books

Step by Step Organic Vegetable Gardening: The Gardening Classic Revised and Updated

Do you recognize the author’s last name? If not, let me throw a little hint your way. Ogden Publications is the publisher for Mother Earth News, Grit, etc. This is another book my friend Jen recommended to me.

I just bought this book a few weeks ago. It is excellent. Written by Ira Wallace, the owner of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. It has been integral in starting my raised bed gardens this Fall.

No-Till Intensive Vegetable Culture: Pesticide-Free Methods for Restoring Soil and Growing Nutrient-Rich, High-Yielding Crops
Your Edible Yard: Landscaping with Fruits and Vegetables
Grow Your Own Herbal Remedies: How to Create a Customized Herb Garden to Support Your Health & Well-Being

I watched this author’s course in the Mother Earth News fair on Herbal Tinctures. It was excellent. LOVE the idea of growing my own herbal first aid kit!

Permaculture Books

The Resilient Farm and Homestead: An Innovative Permaculture and Whole Systems Design Approach

This book is quite respected in the permaculture circle. I have been slowly reading it since March. Very intense but also very good. I am learning a LOT.

Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, 2nd Edition

Gaia’s Garden is in my Amazon cart waiting for me to pull the trigger!

Introduction To Permaculture (2nd Revised edition) (5.2.2002) – By Bill Mollison

Bill Mollison invented the concept of permaculture. His book is required reading for the permaculture crowd.

Home Life Books

A Householder’s Guide to the Universe: A Calendar of Basics for the Home and Beyond

This is a very interesting book. Jen and I also both own it. The author Harriet Fasenfast gives many personal stories (some sad-many thoughtful), and then has the book broken out by months so each month you have things to do around your home to keep it moving in an orderly fashion (my words not hers – can’t think of a better way to put it). Then each month is sectioned out by Home, Garden and Kitchen.

She also has some wonderful recipes. I am currently looking at July and this month its Fresh Fruit Cobbler. Ugh. WantNow!

Food Preservation Books

Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

If you only start with one beginning canning book, this has to be the one. It has all of the important basics in it for those just learning to can. Consider it a safety guide.

*Amy Tip: And if I might make a humble recommendation, get the spiral bound version. You will be VERY glad you did!

Canning for a New Generation: Updated and Expanded Edition: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry

K bought me this book for Christmas last year. It’s a wonderful book with wonderful recipes although not all are for canning. The interesting part of this book is she has broken out the sections by harvest season. I.e. Spring Fruits, Spring Vegetables, Summer Fruits, Summer Vegetables, etc.

The Complete Guide to Pressure Canning: Everything You Need to Know to Can Meats, Vegetables, Meals in a Jar, and More

Diane Deveraux is The Canning Diva. She has some great recipes that I think you would love.

Books on Chickens and Raising Other Animals

Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens, 4th Edition: Breed Selection, Facilities, Feeding, Health Care, Managing Layers & Meat Birds

This is the first book I bought when we decided to get chickens. It is incredibly comprehensive. I don’t feel like the author missed a thing.

It is part of a bigger series called the Storey’s Guide to Raising. I would recommend any of these books in this series for animal husbandry. Honey Bees, Turkeys, Goats. They cover it all. Click here to see the series.

The Small-Scale Poultry Flock: An All-Natural Approach to Raising Chickens and Other Fowl for Home and Market Growers

Best Homesteading Courses

The Ploughshare Institute

The Ploughshare Institute’s Sustain Life video series offers a ton of back to the basics courses – from Building a Cold Frame, to Beginning Machine Sewing, to making Mozzarella Cheese. This is also a good resource for you fledgling woodworkers out there as there are a ton of interesting looking woodworking classes.

https://www.sustainlife.org/video/ (this page free but they do have paid courses)

Learning With Experts

Learning with Experts has a ton of very interesting courses such as Self Sufficient Vegetable Gardening, Natural Beekeeping and An Introduction to Breadmaking. Check them all out below.

Online Homesteading Fair

That 50 year old publication that epitomizes back to the earth living, Mother Earth News, is where we all begin, right? Their annual fair which has been out of reach for me all of these years has finally gone online and it’s excellent.

They have a ton of topics. Everything from  DIY Skills to Modern Homesteading to Organic Gardening. Within each of those topics, there are courses such as honey bee management, sheet mulching techniques and yogurt creation. Click on the link to see all of the available courses and register.

Mother Earth News Online Fair

Homesteading Channel on YouTube I Love

I also have a YouTube channel I recommend. Homesteading Family gives us some really, really meaty advice on gardening, preserving, homeschooling, how to choose a homestead property, etc.  Carolyn’s online courses are here: https://www.schooloftraditionalskills.com/store

A couple of the course titles are The Art of Homemade Bread (which sounds like it took OFF after the lockdown began in March) and The Abundant Pantry: Canning. She has several more so check them out. Oh, I should mention Carolyn was a teacher before they decided to homestead and currently homeschools their NINE children. So yeah, I imagine that girl can teach!

Free Canning Videos on YouTube



Is your mind going a million miles a minute?

There is a LOT to think about and consider when making major life decisions like these. Thousands do it though, and have been for hundreds of years – so you can too. Just go into it with your eyes wide open. Many YouTubers will make their life look idyllic. It’s not. It’s HARD but in the end worth it if it gives you back control over your life, food and family.

We are incredibly interested in hearing your plans so please share them in the comments below. Oh, and good luck!

Check out these other posts that will get you one step closer to self-sufficency!