Ready for the crash

Dervaes: urban homesteaders
USA Today was one of the first newspapers to spot the fast growth in off-grid living. Now it has identified a related trend which sparked a massive response on the paper’s web site.

Dubbed “21st century survivalism,” the story, filed in the “offbeat” section, is about a Michigan family that, under financial pressure, decided to give up credit cards, satellite television, high-tech toys and restaurant dining, and move from the city to live on a 40-acre farm and become more self-sufficient. They relearnt skills and live happily together and feed themselves.
People are asking, “Do I really want to be 100% vulnerable with no self-sufficiency skills if something happens to the economy?” says the story.

At the time of writing the story had attracted 450 comments from readers. One took exception to the story’s inclusion in the offbeat section of the paper.”Good Americans doing what it takes to survive,” says one. “However, this is not really an “offbeat” story. These are the REAL Americans. These are the types of common people that have made this country great. Enough of the “Wall Street” types. Those people are doing their best to destroy us.”

Some signs of the trend:

Stockpiling. When the stock market drops, orders surge for freeze-dried food, survival kits and emergency supplies, says Nitro-Pak president Harry Weyandt. One best seller: a $3,375 food reserve that feeds four people for three months.

Gardening. Sales of vegetable seeds and transplants are up 30% from 2008 at W. Atlee Burpee, the USA’s largest seed company. The National Gardening Association says 7 million more households will grow food this year than in 2008 — a 19% rise. A book on building root cellars is the top seller at Johnny’s Selected Seeds in Winslow, Maine, supervisor Joann Matuzas says.

Canning. Jarden Corp. says sales of its Ball and Kerr canning and preserving products are up more than 30% from 2008. Sonya Staffan, owner of The Jam and Jelly Lady commercial cannery in Lebanon, Ohio, is offering twice as many classes this year.

Sewing. More people are learning to sew so they can mend clothes and make home décor, says Rachel Cohen, spokeswoman for SVP Worldwide, owner of sewing-products makers Singer and Husqvarna Viking.

Relocating. Steve Saltman, general manager of, a national real estate company, says more customers want to “live simply in a less-expensive place.” Jonathan Rawles of says more people moving to rural areas “are specifically worried about economic and social instability.”

3 Responses

  1. Ali, I don’t know what your financial situation is, but I suspect you have more resources than you realize, I was able to buy my off-grid home (raw land, we built everything ourselves) using the money I put aside while working part time at a big box electronic store, I didn’t make much money, but I put aside money out of every paycheck, no matter what. We own our property free and clear.
    Look at what you are spending, do you eat out a lot? Think about taking your lunch to work instead of eating out, you can save $5 to $10 each day you don’t eat out, that’s just one example of money that can be squeezed out of your current salary, re-purposed, even if it takes more time that you want it to take to save money for your future, just think of it like this, the time will pass whether or not you are working on your future. Where else can you save? What are you spending your money on that can be re-purposed for your future? Clothes? Shoes? Expensive hobbies? Vacations? Frivolous driving? Movies? Every channel you can get on satellite or cable? Eating out? Coffee house? Alcohol? Video games? Junk food? Manicures? Expensive cosmetics? I’m not trying to judge you, just get you to take a hard look at what you are doing right now that can be changed. Any one of these things are minor, but several of these things can make a big difference, it all boils down to what you really want and are willing to do.

    Good luck, I sincerely wish you well and success. :)


  2. It is as this article was describing my thoughts, because I want to move somewhere with a huge yard to grow my own food, I want to go off-grid, and I too want to learn how to sow. They’ve (capitalism advocates) really pushed our id to it’s limits. I am tired of all this!!! I don’t want a new car, a large mansion, nor hhigh tech gadgets and flat screen TV, i mean when is it enough, the tv’s always get flatter, the cars newer and blah blah blah. I just want free time to be with family and to educate myself in the things that really matter, am over this artificial life and am only 24. I want true freedom, freedom from working everday for someone elses profit who every year loses more and more respect for holidays and personal days who pays me enough so that I always have to go back and then some.

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