Cookook Reviews

Published on August 3rd, 2010 | by Rachel Shulman


Book Review: The Backyard Homestead

One of the books in my home library that guests always “ooh” and “ah” over is The Backyard Homestead by Carleen Madigan. My friends and family know that I have ambitions of homesteading, and this book makes my dream seem like a realistic venture.

The Backyard Homestead is an accessible guide on how to turn your backyard – whether it be a tenth of an acre or ten acres – into a food-producing machine.

The best part of this book is that it makes you realize that you don’t need a lot of land to produce your own food. Just a quarter-acre lot can provide most of the food needed to feed a small family.

The Backyard Homestead is full of illustrations on how to make the most of the space that you have. The garden and orchard plans for different-sized yards are particularly inspirational.

The book also has chapters devoted to raising livestock for eggs, dairy, and meat. While these sections provide nice overviews, they’re less comprehensive than the first three chapters on gardening and food preservation (although I did really appreciate the diagram on how to build a chicken coop!).

In a nutshell, if you’re interested in producing some or all of your own food, this book is a great way to get started. I know I’ll be referring to it when I start my homestead in Illinois next year!

Image courtesy of Shira Golding via a Creative Commons license.

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About the Author

I'm an ecologist turned journalist turned farmer-in-training. I'm currently working on an organic farm and creamery in Illinois. Follow me on twitter (, friend me on Facebook (!/profile.php?id=3105709), or follow me on StumbleUpon (

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