Here is my story about living a sustainable life. I learned how to homestead and create green solutions for modern living. You can easily learn to create a simple organic life, too.
I moved to a back-to-the-earth farm in Central Vermont during the heyday of the American cultural revolution. I was part of the generation of students confronted with the Vietnam War, racial tension, second wave feminism, and runaway capitalism. Fritjof Capra hadn’t yet written The Turning Point and I wasn't sure that there was much hope in sight. Things seemed pretty incongruous.
I had tried working at a straight job, with a brand new Ph.D. hanging after my name, but I learned that nine to five wasn’t going to cut it for me. I needed a life—I mean, a real life, one in which I lived, not just worked. The only thing that seemed coherent was Nature—the land, animals, the seasons and mountains. I was in love with mountains. The time was ripe for back-to-the Earth communes, and a lot of my peers were heading to places like California, Colorado, and New Mexico. I was attracted to the Great Smokey Mountains in Tennessee and the Green Mountains of Vermont. So, I flipped a coin and Vermont won the flip. The Good Life is my story. I packed my meager belongings and headed to the North Woods.
Things fell in place, like they tend to do when you’re in the Flow, and I landed at an old, run-down, 150-acre farm smack dab in the middle of the Green Mountain State. For the next 22 years, I called a 200 year-old farmhouse, located eleven miles out on a minimally maintained gravel road, home. A lot happened for me there. I got married, had two children, and forged my way into an equestrian career that has given me an incredibly good life. And, of course, I taught philosophy—which I can’t seem to outrun—at an area university. But, those things are really the least of it. They were just the outer garments of a more important inner journey that took place. What really happened for me there was transformation—deep, lasting, and significant. The woman who walked off that place 22 years later was a whole different person than the one who had gone there in 1974.
I had learned what real sustainability meant. And, I had learned how to live a truly sustainable lifestyle. So, when the markets fell in 2008—with the subsequent waves of foreclosures, layoffs, and monetary devaluation, I was insulated. The lifestyle that I had cultivated over the past 35 years was sustainable: voluntarily simple and purposeful. My fertile, organic gardens, animal husbandry skills, and practice of living simply on the land provided me with freedom from anxiety and tension and an opportunity to live harmoniously in an increasingly complicated world. I had a Good Life.
America is at a crossroads--where there is an opportunity for people to take their lives into their own hands and live in a simpler, less routinized, more socially sensible manner. Good Lives.
The Good Life offers a blueprint--a practical course in radical stability through voluntary simplicity. Use it as a catalyst to begin to write your own story--it is a guide to finding personal freedom.
Sherry Ackerman lives The Good Life at Shastao Philosophical Hermitage, at the foot of majestic Mount Shasta in Northern CA.