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Homegrown and Handmade: A Practical Guide to More Self-Reliant Living Paperback – October 25, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


"Deborah Niemann has penned the book that will turn homesteading dreamers into doers. From sustainable gardening to animal husbandry, she's got the farm covered. Homegrown & Handmade explores, illuminates, excites, and inspires. " ---Ashley English, author of the Homemade Living book series

"Homegrown and Handmade is a wonderful collection of [Deborah's] wisdom, and when it's not propped next to the stove or the milk stand, this approachable reference belongs on the shelf with the homesteading classics." ---Margaret Hathaway, author of The Year of the Goat and Living with Goats

"There's never been a more practical guide written for making the 'simple' life simple." ---Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell, founders of

"Homegrown & Handmade puts you in the control seat of what is considered fresh and healthy food by offering detailed explanations on providing food and fiber in their purest form for yourself." ---Chris McLaughlin, author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Heirloom Vegetables

"It covers all the bases - from the soil to the supper table, and from birth (or hatch) to butchering. This is the perfect book for the conscientious omnivore, or for anyone seeking a practical map to a sustainable, delicious future." ---Terra Brockman, author of The Seasons on Henry's Farm

Our food system is dominated by industrial agriculture, and has become economically and environmentally unsustainable. The incidence of diet-related diseases including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and heart disease has skyrocketed to unprecedented levels. Whether you have 40 acres and a mule or a condo with a balcony, you can do more than you think to safeguard your health, your money and the planet.

Homegrown and Handmade shows how making things from scratch and growing at least some of your own food can help you eliminate artificial ingredients from your diet, reduce your carbon footprint, and create a more authentic life. Whether your goal is increasing your self-reliance or becoming a full-fledged homesteader, it's packed with answers and solutions to help you:

  • Take control of your food supply from seed to plate
  • Raise small and medium livestock for fun, food and fiber
  • Rediscover traditional skills to meet more of your family's needs than you ever thought possible.

This comprehensive guide to food and fiber from scratch proves that attitude and knowledge is more important than acreage. Written from the perspective of a successful, self-taught modern homesteader, this well-illustrated, practical and accessible manual will appeal to anyone who dreams of a simpler life.

From the Author

One of the first questions anyone asks when they hear about my lifestyle is, "Did you grow up like this?" Whether they are asking about our homesteading lifestyle or my diet, the answer is a resounding, "No!" I grew up in Refugio, Texas, a small town on the Gulf Coast, and I couldn't wait to move to the big city. I spent many weekends in Houston, and after graduating from high school, I attended college at Eastern Connecticut State University. Armani was more familiar to me than arugula. I ate out more than I ate at home, and when I did eat at home, the food often came from a box or can. I was close to my teen years before I ate a raw vegetable, and that was iceberg lettuce drowned in salad dressing.

When I became pregnant with my first child, I honestly believed that a cheeseburger and fries was a good, healthy meal. I had my meat, dairy, bread, and vegetables. Yes, I thought that a piece of lettuce, a couple of pickle slices, and french fries counted as vegetables. I was proud of myself for eliminating caffeine from my two-liter daily soda consumption. After my baby was born, I started reading about nutrition and thought that maybe my poor diet had contributed to my constant illness as a child. Hoping to save my own children from the same sad fate, I started eliminating artificial ingredients from our diet and began baking bread. Over the years, we became more conscientious about our dietary choices, and by 2002, it seemed like moving to the country to grow our own food was the next logical step.

I always say that if we can do this, anyone can, and I'm not joking. Our livestock experience consisted of caring for two cats and a poodle before we moved out here. You don't have to be a master gardener to grow your own food. Our first garden produced only a handful of stringy green beans, but from reading books, finding mentors, trying, and making mistakes, we've learned to do everything we do today.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: New Society Publishers; Original edition (October 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865717028
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865717022
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 7.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #112,115 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Deborah Niemann is a homesteader, writer, and self-sufficiency expert. In 2002, she relocated her family from the suburbs of Chicago to a 32 acre parcel on a creek "in the middle of nowhere". Together, they built their own home and began growing the majority of their own food. Sheep, pigs, cattle, goats, chickens, and turkeys supply meat, eggs and dairy products, while an organic garden and orchard provides fruit and vegetables. A highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader, Deborah presents extensively on topics including soapmaking, breadbaking, cheesemaking, composting and homeschooling.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 47 people found the following review helpful By M. Schemanski on October 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
Homegrown & Handmade
A practical Guide to More Self-Reliant living
Deborah Niemann
Published by New Society Publishers

This book starts with a 25 page introduction, valuable information on the whys of eating homegrown. From the Health stance, nutrition differences, the quality of the food, and its sustainability. In addition, she touches on the frugalness of eating home grown and finding pride in ones work. Very good information on chemicals and how much of the food we eat today is extremely unhealthy for us.

The book is divided into 5 parts, each with a Planning, Growing, and Cooking sections.
Backyard gardening is first with helpful hints on planning a garden that fits nicely into the space you have, and not becoming overwhelmed. To plan according to your future needs and utilizing the fruits of your labor.
The orchard is next with the ins and outs of planting, and when and how of harvesting then making delicious jams and other recipes with your fruit.
Caring for poultry for both eggs and meat production. Includes housing recommendations and types of poultry.
Of course my favorite, your home dairy! From planning on which livestock, caring for them, to processing your milk into cheese and soap.
She even includes a section on raising fiber animals!
Covers all the basics and is a great resource for helping someone get started with farming, even in their small backyard.
The only thing I had wished was that the pictures would be in color, but I know that isn't always practical either.
Great book, a great starter, but includes enough depth for even seasoned farmers to utilize the information.
Thanks to the Author for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Lizzyuru on January 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
I recieved this book as a Christmas present from my Grandfather in law who grew up on a farm. I was raised in the Chicago suburbs so the most we ever did was have a herb garden. But I have always been inspired by this lifestyle even as a little girl. And this book is absolutly amazing! I am now suggesting it to everyone I know. It is extremetly well written and stays entertaining throughout. I love the way the author shared with us her own mistakes so that we as readers could learn from them as she did. I simply could not put it down. I have nothing but praise for this book, and reading it has inspired my family to change our way of life to one that is more homegrown & handmade.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Smlz Mom on January 7, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having recently moved to the country, I was looking for a book which would provide me with great ideas, knowledge and information on getting back to living off the land. I found a give away on the Homemade Mothering website for this book and decided I couldn't wait and just bought it --- I was glad I did.

The author has a very down-to-earth writing style and she provides valuable hands on experience. The book provides an array of topics on self-reliance and includes information on planning, growing or caring for and then cooking or processing what you grow/raise.

This book was a great find for someone that just moved to the country but would also be helpful to those that live in the city due to information the author provides on how to adapt and be self-reliant even when living in the city.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Seaotter on March 6, 2012
Format: Paperback
Deborah Niemann's "Homegrown and Handmade" is a well written, interesting, practical introduction on a variety of homesteading topics including home dairy, poultry, gardening, orchards, and keeping a flock of fiber animals. Her twenty five page introduction gives many good reasons for taking the time to grow, process and use your own natural foods and clothing materials. Throughout the book the author provides many important details on numerous subjects such as the difference between GMO, hybrid and heirloom seeds. In another example she details the differences between heritage and hybrid chickens. Niemann not only details planning for the backyard garden, orchard, flock, dairy, meat and fiber animals but also raising, preserving, cooking and processing (in the case of fiber animals) from each of them. A couple of the books I have read on homesteading's authors come across with a superior attitude. Not so Niemann. She shares her mistakes and helps you learn from them. Her understandable, thorough look at each aspect of homesteading lets you know if this lifestyle is for you and also lets you know that you can do as little or much of it as you desire.

You may wonder after all the good things I had to say about the book, why I only gave the book four stars? The lady's husband is an engineer and because of that they can afford the cost of setting up and running a homestead. It isn't cheap. She has about twenty of each animal she raises. You can have only a few chickens and a couple of goats, which would make the whole operation much cheaper and more doable. The rest of the information in the book is fantastic.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Story Circle Book Reviews on April 18, 2012
Format: Paperback
Being a full-fledged farmer or fully self-sufficient is not possible for most of us who live an urban or suburban life. Yet creating a modern homestead is not a role-playing game, but an effort to do what we can to lessen our dependency on modern conveniences. Homegrown and Handmade: A Practical Guide to More Self-Reliant Living gives you the tools needed to create a lifestyle that honors the planet, helps you eat healthy foods, and lessens your dependency on global resources.

From the introduction (where Niemann lays out the process that led to their becoming homesteaders in 2002) to the afterward (where she encourages readers to do whatever they can to be more self-sufficient), this book will give you the information you need to live your own homestead dreams.

Each section includes help with planning, resources, recipes (or patterns!) and a step-by-step overview of each topic. Niemann starts out with "The Sustainable Garden" and then moves through "The Backyard Orchard," "The Backyard Poultry Flock," "The Home Dairy," and the "The Home Fiber Flock." Certainly the first three topics are within the reach of most readers, even if they don't have acreage or a "homestead," per se.

But if you are like me--leery of creating a herd of goats or even a cow or two, or didn't know how to accomplish the basics of homegrown to table--this book gives great ideas and encouragement in creating a viable homestead, wherever you live. The chapters on Home Fiber Flocks are fascinating and full of patterns, ideas and nudges to lead you down the garden path of creativity from production and creation. And the Home Dairy chapters break the process down to manageable bites and may give you a longing for fresh milk you never knew you had!

The ideas are practical: "...
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