Top 10 Must-Read Small Farming and Homesteading Books

Young girl with hen in small farm
martin-dm / Getty Images
Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

This list of recommended books for small farms and homesteads makes a great start to your library.

  • 01 of 10

    Best for Learning the Basics: The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery

    This classic book covers many aspects of basic farm life, including gardening, food preparation, and buying land. In true encyclopedic fashion, you'll find information on keeping bees, culturing yogurt, baking bread, and artificially inseminating a turkey. If you had to get just one book on how to farm, this would be it.

  • 02 of 10

    Runner-Up, Best for Learning the Basics: The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It by John Seymour

    Through a British lens, this book covers the basics of homesteading and small farming for urbanites new to rural living. Topics covered include food from the garden, animals, the fields and the wild; in the dairy; in the kitchen; brewing and wine-making; energy and waste; crafts and skills. Similar to The Encyclopedia of Country Living, this book seeks to share information about many aspects of the homesteading/self-sufficient life.

  • 03 of 10

    Best for Raising Animals: Barnyard in Your Backyard by Gail Damerow

    This book covers the basics on raising chickens, ducks, geese, rabbits, goats, sheep, and cattle (both dairy and beef). It's a great introduction to a variety of animals. For more in-depth information on a specific breed, the Storey Guide for that breed might be more useful.

  • 04 of 10

    Best for Raising Chickens: Keep Chickens! by Barbara Kilarski

    An excellent introduction to keeping chickens for eggs, especially appropriate for the urban or suburban farmer. Kilarski's writing is engaging and funny, but still chock-full of useful information. Feeding, coop and henhouse design, and egg collecting and washing are covered.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Best for Driving Profit: You Can Farm by Joel Salatin

    Subtitled "The Entrepreneur's Guide to Start & Succeed in a Farming Enterprise," this book by the acclaimed owner of Polyface Farm in Virginia is just that. Salatin describes his own experience in this book, teaching by example and inspiring readers. The focus here is on a profit-making enterprise, but there's lots of great information for small farmers who don't want to bring products to market. There is a lot here that will challenge your ideas and assumptions about farming and agriculture.

  • 06 of 10

    Best for Initial Planning: Small-Scale Livestock Farming by Carol Ekarius

    This book is great for farmers just getting started. With a heavy emphasis on determining what you want from your farming life and planning your farm enterprise, it helps small farmers build a strong foundation for their farm. It also covers choosing livestock, understanding housing, fencing and feeding needs, breeding, and market strategies. This book takes a grass-based, grazing approach to farming.

  • 07 of 10

    Best for Part-Time Farmers: The Contrary Farmer by Gene Lodgson

    Focusing on cottage farming for enjoyment as well as profit, Lodgson's book serves as an antidote to "traditional" family farming on a large scale. This book is inspirational while teaching some basics, and is an entertaining and worthwhile read for anyone getting started with a farming venture.

  • 08 of 10

    Best Year-Round Farming Tips: Four-Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman

    Coleman asks, "Why stop gardening at the end of summer?" With the techniques and strategies outlined in this helpful book, you can extend your gardening season significantly, no matter how far north you live.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Best Storage Tips: Root Cellaring by Mike and Nancy Bubel

    Mike and Nancy Bubel's Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits and Vegetables offers simple, step-by-step advice for properly stowing perishable produce. With directions in regard to stowing 100 different varieties of fruit and vegetables, backyard farmers will learn everything they need to devise their own root cellar — no timely canning necessary.

  • 10 of 10

    Best for Growing Veggies: Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth and Kent Whealy

    Subtitled "Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners," this book details how to save seeds for over 160 vegetables, including detailed information about each vegetable. All techniques are thoroughly researched and tested. Seed to Seed is the quintessential reference book for learning how to save seeds from your garden.