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Extreme Simplicity: Homesteading in the City

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"Upon a foundation of not being able to change the world, the Nyerges have changed themselves, along the lines, that is, of Tolstoy's observation that everybody thinks of changing the world, and nobody thinks of changing himself. They provide simple, natural, and cheap ways to live in the city, partly as survivalists, partly as environmentalists, by recounting the tale of their newly-acquired dilapidated duplex in LA. Their first step was removing the energy-wasting dishwashers, disposals, and central heating units and gradually beginning beekeeping, rainwater collecting, and organic/natural gardening." --Book News, April 2003

Here is an upbeat, unabashedly outrageous book about applying the principles of self-reliance, more often associated with rural back-to-the-landers and wilderness campers, to life in suburban Los Angeles. By telling their own homesteading story, the Nyergeses have created a blueprint that will help city-dwellers anywhere live more independently.

The book is organized more like a how-to or self-help book than a personal memoir. The authors present self-sufficient and ecological approaches to commonly defined areas of a household: The House, The Yard, Homegrown Foods (and wild edibles), Domestic Animals, The Garden, Water, Energy, and Recycling. A concluding chapter takes on larger lifestyle questions of livelihood and healthy relationships with money and security.

Here are some basic tips that are covered:
--Save water, gasoline, and fertilizers by substituting a traditional, water-lavish grass lawn with more low-growing plants which require very little upkeep, and which are pleasant-smelling and wonderful food sources. New Zealand spinach, red clover, mint, and thyme are some examples.
--Lower your power and gas bills by using solar energy to heat water, bake bread, and generate electricity for other purposes.
--Get rid of your costly garbage disposal and recycle your own garbage. Give food scraps to your animals. And you can go as far as making a compost pit of kitchen scraps and pet manure with a joint rabbit hutch and worm-farm.
--Allow cooler air to flow through the house without having a pricey and high-powered central cooling system. Replace regular screen doors with steel security screens, so you can leave the doors open all night without worrying about a break-in. You can also paint your dark-colored roof with a white coat to keep down solar heat absorption.
--Don’t rake your yard. By keeping the area heavily mulched, you don’t have to water as often or use any hazardous chemicals. The organic matter in the mulch replenishes grass.
-- Plant shade trees. This increases the fragrance and beauty of your yard and lessens the need for mechanically cooling your house. Consider citrus trees. They are drought-tolerant and yield delicious, fresh, natural fruits.


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