Author: browneconomy

John Seymour: Self- Sufficiency

This might seem a strange posting for this website – The Economic Voice. It does have something to do with economics but is primarily about what might be termed ‘Alternative Lifestyle’. A couple of days ago, in response to Wurzel Gummidge’s post : “Falls in Housing Market Continue”, Pilgrim & I found we had a common interest in what might be known as self-sufficiency, homesteading, the back to earth movement (or even survivalism!). We gave it some thought and decided that if I could make an initial posting about the classic book on the subject and sufficient interest were generated we could perhaps ask Site & TC to set up a separate category for discussion?

OK, what is self-sufficiency? I guess it is being independent of the system. Obviously the accepted definition encompasses small-scale, personal farming but on a different level if you can grow a few herbs in a window box, keep chickens in your back yard or even mend your own car that is a step towards being self-sufficient. It’s not about some idealised, hippie version of the past but about building for the future. Your future. My partner, Rachel and I are not truly self-sufficient but we try. We live in rural Somerset and are lucky enough to have a reasonably large ‘garden’ and we have access to a ‘free’ supply of timber for our open fire. This is our second year of cultivation and we hope: weather, health, slugs and other pests permitting to make a significant contribution to our larder. One of the obvious criticisms of growing our own food is that we end up with a surplus of product at the very time when it’s cheapest in the supermarkets. On the other hand, all our stuff is 100% organic and we don’t measure how far our food has travelled in ‘food miles’ but in ‘food yards’. We don’t have any animals yet, concentrating on staples such as potatoes, onions, beans etc plus ‘expensive’ seasonal crops such as herbs, salads etc. Last year we had great success with courgettes, peppers & leaks. I can’t yet claim that our efforts have been financially worthwhile and perhaps they never will but spending 10 minutes picking your own fresh veg., and then sitting down to your roast dinner sipping on a glass of your own home-made wine is my idea of heaven.

John Seymour wrote his classic book in 1975. It was titled “The Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency” and carried the sub-title “A Practical Guide for Realists and Dreamers”. It was never intended to be a step by step guide but to inspire readers into experimenting and trying the way to self-sufficiency. Published after the 1973 oil crisis in a time of recession and rising unemployment it reflected the views and aspirations of many and was one of the credited influences behinds BBC tv’s ‘The Good Life’. Interestingly it was, I think, the first book created by Dorling Kindersley and has sold over a million copies in 20 countries. Like all DK books its nicely illustrated – in my copy many of these illustrations were drawn by his wife, Sally, using the author as a model – very 1973 – all hippie beard! (Could be a body double for the male model used to illustrate ‘The Joy of Sex!’). Economic and environmental concerns were perhaps not so different in 1976 as now and so the book does have an immediate relevance. If you are interested it should be available at your local library, or from Amazon.

Please look at the following link:

P.S. You can practically read the book for free. Bargain!

Comment Here!

comments