New Pioneers: The Back-To-The-Land Movement and the Search for a Sustainable Future

New Pioneers: The Back-To-The-Land Movement and the Search for a Sustainable Future

New Pioneers: The Back-To-The-Land Movement and the Search for a Sustainable Future

New Pioneers: The Back-To-The-Land Movement and the Search for a Sustainable Future

Synopsis

A revealing look at "back-to-the-landers" in the U.S. and Canada.

New Pioneers is about one such group of people -- the hundreds of thousands of urban North Americans who over the past three decades have given up their city or suburban homes for a few acres of land in the countryside.

Jeffrey Jacob's new pioneers are ordinary people who have tried to break away from the mainstream consumer culture and return to small-town and rural America. He traces the development of the movement and identifies seven different kinds of back-to-the-lander: the weekender, country romantic, purist, country entrepreneur, pensioner, micro-farmer, and apprentice. From over 1,300 survey responses, interviews, and in-depth case studies, at both the regional and national levels, of representative back-to-the-landers, Jacob analyzes their values, use of appropriate technology, family division of labor on their acreages, and predisposition toward environmental activism.

Jacob finds that back-to-the-landers for the most part are not completely independent of the mainstream economy, and consequently, their lives do reflect the contradictions between the available conveniences of a high-technology culture and the movement's goals of self-reliant labor. He analyzes their ambivalent attitudes toward technology -- hoes and shovels versus mini-hydroelectric systems, wood stoves versus microwave ovens, and so on. After examining the experiences of the back-to-the-country people who live

Excerpt

The visitor who drives up the tree-lined lane that approaches Anne Schwartz's farm is assaulted by a nerve-shattering noise just before entering the homestead clearing. With the house in view the source of the noise becomes obvious. A flock of twenty-odd geese dart in and out of the shadows cast by the thirty-foot fir and spruce trees that define the boundaries of the farm's invasion of forest space. Then, as the car stops and the transient's motion becomes less threatening, the quacking, squawking chorus ebbs to occasional solos.

The geese who herald the advances on Anne's property are not of an ordinary variety. They are multipurpose animals whose contribution to homesteading only begins as gentle substitutes for the farm watchdog. These geese are Chinese weeder geese. They weed: eat the weeds in farm fields and gardens. Each morning at peak weeding times during the spring and summer Anne loads her assistants into the back of her pickup truck and heads for her five-acre organic potato patch. Upon arrival the geese scramble out of the truck, and Anne strategically places several buckets of water for the geese in the rows between the potato plants. Her charges stay close to the water as they systematically pull and eat the . . .

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