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Self Sufficiency for the 21st Century Hardcover – August 2, 2010

4.8 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


British father and son Dick and James Strawbridge (cohosts, It's Not Easy Being Green, BBC, UK) share their years of experience working Newhouse Farm, their smallholding in Cornwall, England, describing how everyone, including urban and suburban dwellers, can become more self-sufficient and environmentally conscious. They cover everything from conserving energy, harnessing energy from wind and water, gardening, and keeping livestock, to cheese making and creating willow baskets. Using step-by-step instructions and numerous useful photographs, the two show the reader, in just a few pages per subject, how to perform often complex tasks. Their enthusiastic, engaging style makes for easy reading, and the book paints a realistic picture of what it would be like to live as self-sufficiently as possible on a small farm. Many of the subjects they include, however, such as raising livestock, rate an entire book by themselves. VERDICT This is a useful overview of the range of possibilities for becoming more self-sufficient, written by knowledgeable authors, with the understanding that beginners would need additional instruction to handle many of the tasks.--Sue O'Brien, Downers Grove P.L., IL --Library Journal, October 1, 2010

Self Sufficiency for the 21st Century will teach how to make biodiesel for cars generate solar power for homes even build a water wheel or wind vane. Not enough for you? It also teaches how to brew beer make cheese and the basics of animal husbandry. -Susan Love --Cleveland Plain Dealer, August 23, 2010

This book has it all for the man or woman who might be considering starting his or her own country. --Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 26, 2010

Gorgeous photos, handy charts and attractive and detailed diagrams (signatures of DK books) make this an inviting read. -Catherine Mallette --Fort Worth Star-Telegram, August 27, 2010

Photos and annotated illustrations on every page make the information clear, accessible, inviting, and even irresistible [such as the photos of DIY elderflower champagne which the Strawbridges consider definitely at the glamorous end of self sufficiency]. You don't need a farm to benefit from this book. It's aimed at all levels and the labeled drawings and plans of the urban yard, the suburban yard and the small farm are both useful and inspiring...In essence, the book is like a cross between a how-to text and a book to dream over. -Pat Jeffries --The Oregonian, September 16, 2010

About the Author

Dick and James Strawbridge, a father-and-son team who are recognized authorities on green living, are well-known TV personalities in the UK. Their TV series "It's Not Easy Being Green" has documented the family's journey towards an ecological, self-sufficient lifestyle. In addition, they are regular contributors to newspapers and magazines, and run a series of green living courses from their farm in Cornwall.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: DK; 1 edition (August 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0756663202
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756663209
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 1.2 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #74,679 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"The complete guide to a simpler, greener life" announces the back cover. It also offers to provide step-by-step guidance to becoming more energy efficient, raise and manage livestock and woodlots and gardens.

The book is divided up into sections: an introduction into a "new way to self-sufficiency", "The Home" "The Yard" and "Traditional Knowledge" with subchapters on building with straw bales, alternative energy, hydroponics, growing, foraging, keeping specific livestock, preserving food, working with wood, and others--

I was disappointed with this book for two reasons. First, it is geared primarily toward readers in the U.K. On page 153..."Here are a couple of unusual trees we plan to try"--namely, Pecans and Honey Locust! And in the section on food preservation, I was astonished to read, "Preserving vegetables at home by canning is not advisable since they have to be heated to a very high temperature to make them safe"... "Our advice is to only can fruit, and preserve your vegetables by freezing them". The other criticism is that while the authors touch upon many topics, none go in depth to the extent that you could master the skill--for example there are two pages on bee keeping from establishing a colony to gathering honey. In less than one page we are instructed how to slaughter and butcher beef, with most of that showing a large beef carcass with cuts drawn on it.

The book is useful for getting an overview of farm life and getting ideas for further study--but you certainly won't become self sufficient by reading this book. More helpful resources I would recommend include archives of The Mother Earth News, available on CD, and Carla Emery's The Encyclopedia of Country Living.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a great book if you're considering becoming more self sufficient, but it is sadly lacking in the resources you need to be self sufficient. Like so many books, it falls victim to being to broad. The authors simply include too many subjects and sacrifice information in order to do so. There are some gems in this book (a handful of great gardening tips, even a recipe for vegetarian soft cheese - no rennet) but those gems are overwhelmed by the massive nature of the book. I spent quite a bit of time lazily paging through the book, and sadly, I didn't find it all that rewarding.

Admittedly, I view this book with an eye towards urban planning/living. I don't have acres on which to raise livestock. My closest source of raw milk is 2 hours away. I don't think the city will let me build a compostable toilet - nor would my acreage support one. The authors do offer some comments on urban living but the information is light and assumes at least some available acreage with good light - a rare commodity in urban living. While it might seem crazy to consider self sufficiency in an urban environment, it's not competely unmanageable. This book just doesn't offer the kind of information necessary.

If you're living in a suburban area with some free land, or living in a rural area with cleared land, this is a great starting point to becoming self-sufficient. You will learn enough to figure out where to turn next, what projects might work for your resources and needs. But if you're working within the urban environment, you'd be better off 'The Backyard Homesteader.'
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book has great ideas for everybody, not just those in the UK. There are more ideas than just plant based ones, the greenhouse heat sink is my fave and very applicable for anyone with a greenhouse. It probably wouldn't be very helpful for the city farmer, it does have some ideas but I feel it is mostly applicable for those with a bit of land to work with. If you are interested in gardening only this probably isn't the book for you, but, if you like to try your hand at a little of everything this is a must have!
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By monark on December 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book. I couldn't stop looking through it.I personally found so much helpful information in it to help us live a more sustainable life. I found it to be very thorough, well laid out and I also thought it was just a beautiful book to look through. I especially liked all the photos with the little numbers beside individual items and a matching list so you could know what exactly you are looking at.I live here in the US and still found it extremly useful and very detailed.
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Format: Hardcover
This book has some rather neat and different ideas for around the farm, but it doesn't really go into depth on any of them. Lots of little details that could make or break a project are skimmed over. And while its nice to see how they do things across the pond, I would have liked to know that it was written for a UK audience before I bought it.

The canning and food storage sections are good for a laugh if you know anything about canning or preserving food. But for someone trying to learn from scratch how to can or preserve - this book could well be a death sentence.

The book says things like; "Canning is a good way to preserve fruits, but it is not suitable for vegetables." "because canning is only appropriate for foods with a high acid content." They advise that to can anything other than high acid foods that you would need "a specialty pressure canner,..." While only pages earlier they sing the praises of the "modern easy to use pressure cookers" Calling them a "must-have eco-gadget for the kitchen"

The two very limited canning methods they do provide are very likely to lead to botulinum poisoning. They advocate only the Pan method and the Oven method. Both methods are very, very unsafe to use. Have they never heard of the Ball blue book over there?

It's full of lots of neat ideas(some more fully baked than others), many recipes that I won't hesitate to try, and many, many pretty pictures.

Buy this book to get some neat ideas, and then read more in-depth on them from other sources before implementing them. Check out the pretty pictures and try the yummy recipes.

Just don't trust the preserving section.
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