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9 Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living

Posted 10/16/2013 5:40 pm by

When you grow your own food, generate your own energy, and work from a home office or farm for your livelihood, the so-called “costs of living” largely disappear. You become untethered to the work-earn-spend consumer economy and thrive, instead, in a more locally centered, self-sufficient economy in which monetary income is less essential for a rich life. Making this self-sufficiency dream a reality has been our goal since my wife, Lisa Kivirist, and I moved to our 5 1/2-acre farmstead in southwestern Wisconsin in 1996.


Self-reliant living can take many forms. You can provide your own food and energy and be your own barber, repair person, home-school teacher, house cleaner, painter, and child care provider. By running a home-based business, you can generate the money needed to obtain essential products or services you’re unable to produce for yourself.


Transitioning to self-sufficient living requires research and planning. But have no fear: You can get started today, wherever you live and with whatever resources and skills you already have.


The Journey to Self-Reliance Begins


Today, our one-third-acre garden meets about 70 percent of our food needs. A wind turbine and a photovoltaic system generate a surplus of electricity annually. Our home-based enterprises include running a bed-and-breakfast named Inn Serendipity, consulting for various nonprofit organizations, and writing books about sustainable living. A modest farmhouse houses both our family and our businesses. But it didn’t start out this way.


We moved to our farm from Chicago, newly married and eager to begin our quest to reclaim the skills and services that we had been buying from others for so long. We wanted to break free from our fossil fuel addiction and sequester more carbon dioxide than we emit each year. We knew these goals would take years to achieve. Here are the strategies we have followed to make our vision a reality.

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