If you are planning to join the homesteading movement, we at Rethink:Rural recommend seeking out reliable resources to guide you on your way. In this article, we share some of our favorite resources such as books, credible homesteading influencers and learning opportunities to help you find just what you need.
Over the past decade, homesteading has grown in popularity as many have begun to explore self-sufficiency and living off the land.
With anything, starting a new hobby or skill requires a learning curve — and the same goes for homesteading. For all of you homesteading beginners out there, resources abound.
Because homesteading requires a wide variety of skill sets, you will need to pull from various experts, books, podcasts and more to acquire the skills you seek. Take it one step at a time, and before you know it, you’ll be passing your knowledge on to other new homesteaders.
Here, we have compiled some of the best homesteading resources for beginners. Our hope is you will be encouraged as you embark on this new and exciting journey.
Homesteading Books for Beginners
Books are one of the most timeless and dependable resources available to a new homesteader. Many authors behind the words in homestead and farming-related books have extensive experience in the topic at hand.
Building an at-home library provides you with accessible knowledge within reach. Gardening books are great to have on hand while out working in the garden. While livestock educational books are handy for caring and tending to your animals.
We also recommend checking your local library catalog, where additional homesteading books and information can be found — all at no cost to you.
The Backyard Homestead Series (Various Authors)
This 5 book series is a must for every new homesteader’s library. Each book provides simple-to-read and follow guides on specific how-to homesteading topics — from gardening to preserving food to building quality and helpful structures on your land.
Book Titles in the series include:
- The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre!
- The Backyard Homestead: Guide to Raising Farm Animals
- The Backyard Homestead Book of Building Projects
- The Backyard Homestead Book of Kitchen Know-How: Field-to-Table Cooking Skills
- The Backyard Homestead Seasonal Planner: What to Do & When to Do It in the Garden, Orchard, Barn, Pasture & Equipment Shed
The Encyclopedia of Country Living (by Carla Emery)
Voted #1 on the 15 Best Homesteading Books for Beginners in 2021, The Encyclopedia of Country Living is by far a highly recommended homestead book.
Carla Emery shares many basic skills necessary for surviving and thriving in any economic environment. In this book, she shares topics and how-tos for:
- Baking bread
- Growing your own food
- Preserving the food you grow
- Raising livestock, such as chickens and goats
- Creating natural skincare products
- And much more
The information written in The Encyclopedia of Country Living is simple and practical, making it an easy-to-use manual for every homesteader.
Barnyard in Your Backyard (by Gail Damerow)
Are you interested in adding livestock to the homestead? Barnyard in Your Backyard, by Gail Damerow, covers all of the basics and what to expect after adding a new animal to your homestead.
She dives deep into each individual homestead animal, including sheep, cattle, chickens, ducks, geese, rabbits and goats.
Each chapter features an individual animal. Gail includes information on how to care for the animal, what to feed them, any health concerns you should be aware of and much more.
This book is the ultimate guide for any new homesteader interested in raising a small barnyard.
Glean from Homesteading Experts & Influencers
Learning from real people with real-life experience is one of the most valuable resources available to new homesteaders.
Many homesteading experts openly share tips and tricks, as well as lessons learned from successes and failures. The information they share is typically offered as blogs or vlogs, podcast episodes or speaking engagements at homesteading conferences and events.
We recommend choosing one or two experts to follow and learn from as you dive into your homesteading journey.
Below are a few influencers with extensive homestead knowledge and experience we suggest you check out:
Known for his sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices, Joel Salatin is a well-known American farmer at his family-owned, multi-generational Polyface Farm in Swoope, Virginia.
His holistic approach to farming includes rotational grazing and the natural raising of livestock.
Joel also advocates for agricultural practices that enhance soil health, increase biodiversity and contribute to the sustainability of the environment.
His knowledge is highly sought after by homesteading podcasters, conferences and events and much more. An excellent resource for those looking to start a homestead off on the right foot.
Helpful Content from Joel for Homesteading Beginners:
- The Musings from the Lunatic Farmer Blog: Joel affectionately calls himself a “Christian libertarian environmentalist capitalist lunatic farmer,” hence the name of his blog. Here, Joel shares short stories from events he has attended to cleaning an electric fence on the farm. He inserts a touch of humor with lessons learned and invites quality conversation in each blog’s comment section.
- Joel has been interviewed and invited to countless podcasts and YouTube channels.
- To date, Joel has written over 15 books about farming. Titles include Family Friendly Farming, Holy Cows and Hog Heaven, You Can Farm, Polyface Micro, and several more.
- You can find all of his books and resources at the Polyface Farm online store.
Where to Find Joel
- The Polyface Farm Website
- The Lunatic Farmer Website
- And on many homesteading podcast episodes, like this one with Joe Rogan and this one with Michael Kilpatrick.
Melissa K. Norris
Melissa K. Norris is a well-known, fifth-generation homesteader in the North Cascade mountains of Washington state. She shares a wide variety of homesteading information and tips but is most passionate about food preservation, cooking from scratch and raising her own meat and produce.
The content Melissa shares with her community is focused on helping other homesteaders learn modern yet traditional homesteading and self-sufficiency skills. Melissa is well-regarded in the homesteading community and is an excellent resource for new and seasoned homesteaders alike.
Helpful Content from Melissa for Homesteading Beginners:
- The First Time Homesteader & Things I’d Do Differently: In this podcast episode, Melissa talks with Jessica Sowards from Roots & Refuge about the homesteading mistakes each has made over the years. They both share lessons learned, as well as tips for starting a homestead from scratch. A must-listen for every new homesteader.
- Essential Homestead Skills: Melissa encourages all homesteaders to start slowly when it comes to acquiring a new skill. This helps reduce the chances of becoming burnt out. In this podcast episode, Melissa shares essential homesteading skills such as cooking from scratch, sewing and mending, seed saving and much more.
Where to Find Melissa:
- Melissa K. Norris Website
- The Pioneering Today Podcast
- And even on Pinterest
Justin Rhodes is a popular homesteader located in Western North Carolina. His popularity began after documenting and sharing his homesteading journey on YouTube.
Justin is well-known for his sustainable growing practices and extensive knowledge of permaculture. He teaches and shares his homesteading practices with others through video and online content.
Topics Justin regularly shares include raising livestock, gardening and self-sufficient lifestyle tips. Another must-follow for every homesteading beginner.
Helpful Content from Justin for Homesteading Beginners
- As one of the biggest homesteading YouTubers out there, we can’t help but mention The Justin Rhodes Show YouTube channel here. On the channel, Justin shares about life on the homestead, from raising a family to butchering chickens, he shares it all. For new homesteaders, we recommend watching the playlist series, “Building a Homestead in 100 Days”: Here Justin walks you through a 100-day process of various tasks and projects he undergoes on the homestead.
- The Abundant Permaculture Blog: On his blog, Justin shares content on homesteading, gardening, raising animals and permaculture. His blogs on How to Start a Garden and Homestead Planning the Right Way are excellent articles to help you gain valuable homesteading how-to insight.
Where to Find Justin:
Take Advantage of Homestead Learning Opportunities
Zig Ziglar once said, “If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you.” This is an applicable quote to the lifestyle and journey of a homesteader.
Seeking out opportunities to learn and grow your homesteading knowledge equips you with the needed know-how to accomplish your goals.
Take a “How to Raise Chickens” workshop at a homesteading conference, for example, or sign-up for a canning class at your local extension office. Join a growers club, or a community garden to gain local area-specific gardening insights.
Not only will you gain valuable skills that will stick with you forever, but you’ll also meet new and interesting people with similar interests.
Attend Homesteading Events
Homesteading events and conferences take place on a regular basis and provide attendees with great educational value.
These types of events often draw large groups of like-minded individuals to a single location to learn about a variety of themed topics.
Topic experts share tips and tricks of the trade, while others lead hands-on workshops to teach new and seasoned homesteaders applicable skills.
In addition, many events attract homestead and farm brands who vendor during the duration of the event, giving you the opportunity to shop and stock up on quality farm products.
By attending one, or several events, you’ll quickly discover a new set of skills, meet new homesteading friends and learn invaluable information from industry experts.
A few examples of homesteading events include:
- The Mother Earth News Fair: Mother Earth News is a popular homestead and farming publication that features articles on relevant agriculture-related topics. Throughout the year, the publication plans several 2-day in-person events across the United States. These fairs include expert-led workshops, hands-on learning for do-it-yourself skills, community building and much more. Bring the kids because these events are family-friendly.
- Homesteaders of America Conference: Many big-name homestead experts attend and share at the yearly Homesteaders of America Conference. This popular, often sold-out event features topic experts such as Joel Salatin, Pork Rhyne and Jill Winger, just to name a few. Hands-on workshops, “Kidsteader” classes, and a full speaker schedule are all featured here.
Local Extension Office
Your local extension office is a university-connected organization dedicated to providing the community with educational opportunities on real-world topics and issues. Their services are often tailored to farmers/homesteaders, families and children and the local community as a whole.
As it relates to homesteading, you may find your local extension office provides hands-on workshops and educational seminars on homestead-related topics. Information on crop and gardening methods, raising and caring for livestock and food preservation are commonly shared.
In addition to farm and homestead knowledge, they often offer a 4-H program for children. This is a great place for young children and teenagers to learn valuable life skills such as sewing, cooking and gardening.
The resources and information offered are usually free or low-cost to participants. Be sure to contact your local extension office to find out more.
Join a Local Community Garden
Whether you live in a rural town, a bustling city, or anywhere in between, there’s a chance a community garden or two exists.
Community gardens are typically located on a dedicated piece of land where community members come together to grow a garden. These shared spaces are utilized to grow fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Gardeners with varying experience levels come together to learn from each other and benefit from their collective growing efforts.
A community garden could be a good place for a new homesteader to learn the basics of growing a garden. Often, experienced gardeners volunteer at the gardens and are available to answer any questions you might have. Take this opportunity to learn what crops grow best in your area, how much to water the plants, and companion gardening, for example.
And That’s a Wrap!
The list provided here offers just a glimpse of the many homesteading resources available for beginners.
By sharing these valuable resources, we hope to inspire and encourage you on your new journey. Take some time to explore these various resources, and you’ll soon find yourself embracing the exciting world of homesteading.
Want more homesteading and self-sufficiency resources? Check out: