Chelsea Green Publishing

A Handmade Life

Pages:144 pages
Book Art:Color photos, black and white illustrations
Size: 9 x 9 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Paperback: 9781933392479
Pub. Date March 07, 2007
eBook: 9781603581394
Pub. Date March 07, 2007

A Handmade Life

In Search of Simplicity

By William Coperthwaite
By (photographer) Peter Forbes
By John Saltmarsh

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
March 07, 2007


Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
March 07, 2007

$25.00 $20.00

William Coperthwaite is a teacher, builder, designer, and writer who for many years hasexplored the possibilities of true simplicity on a homestead on the north coast of Maine. In the spirit of Henry David Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, and Helen and Scott Nearing, Coperthwaite has fashioned a livelihood of integrity and completeness-buying almost nothing, providing for his own needs, and serving as a guide and companion to hundreds of apprentices drawn to his unique way of being.

A Handmade Life carries Coperthwaite's ongoing experiments with hand tools, hand-grown and gathered food, and handmade shelter, clothing, and furnishings out into the world to challenge and inspire. His writing is both philosophical and practical, exploring themes of beauty, work, education, and design while giving instruction on the hand-crafting of the necessities of life. Richly illustrated with luminous color photographs by Peter Forbes, the book is a moving and inspirational testament to a new practice of old ways of life.


"This book, a richly textured exploration of Bill Coperthwaite's work and thought, encourages us to take the lessons of his life to heart. Each of us has the potential to craft our own lives with our own hands--actively, joyfully, and nonviolently, drawing upon the wisdom of our ancestors, striving for justice in the present, and fulfilling our obligations to those who will inherit our legacy."--John Saltmarsh (review refers to an earlier edition)

Publishers Weekly-
Serene and thoughtful, this rambling scrapbook by Maine native and yurt-house builder Coperthwaite provides a vision of a life lived simply and self-sufficiently. From violence to education to how to build a "democratic chair" or make an axe, Coperthwaite covers an abundance of topics as he describes his version of a "handmade life" and explains why such a life is desirable. Never quite didactic, Coperthwaite meditates on topics-such as the idea of employment as exploitation-more than he preaches about them, moving glibly from idea to disconnected idea. A recipe for "a bread so good to both the palate and to health that a diet of bread and water would be a delight" is placed next to an anecdote about a young Eskimo girl named Maggie, for example. And the author's own poems, along with poems by D.H. Lawrence and Emily Dickinson, intersperse the narrative. Peter Forbes' engaging color photographs illustrate Coperthwaite's concepts-no easy feat given their breadth and diversity. 67 color photos, 10 b&w illustrations. (review refers to an earlier edition of the book)


  • Winner - The Nautilus Award - 2004
  • Winner - Independent Publisher, Gold Medal (Inspirational/Spiritual)


William Coperthwaite

William Coperthwaite was a native of Maine who traveled the world in search of folk-art techniques and subsistence skills. Impressed by the beauty and intelligence of the traditional central Asian nomadic tents called "yurts," Coperthwaite adapted and introduced to North America yurt design and construction. For four decades he participated in building more than three hundred yurts for family homes, schools, camps, and outbuildings. Awarded a doctorate from Harvard University's School of Education for his work with Eskimo villagers, Coperthwaite taught in a variety of innovative educational settings. William passed away unexpectedly in late 2013. His organization, the Yurt Foundation, continues to serve to promote sensible and economical self-reliance through workshops, lectures, and publications. 

John Saltmarsh

John Saltmarsh is one of the founders of The Good Life Center, the Nearing's former homestead in Harborside, Maine. He is an associate professor at Northeastern University in Boston with a joint appointment in the departments of Cooperative Education and History. He has been a Visiting Research Fellow at the Feinstein Institute for Public Service for Providence College. He resides in Wayland, Massachusetts.


Peter has become a leader for the American conservation movement by creating a life in conservation as photographer, writer, and storyteller about the relationship between people and place. For the last fifteen years, Peter has focused his energies on bringing together and strengthening the worlds of environmentalism and social justice and offering those professions his experience with story, facilitation, contemplative practice, and relationship to nature.  Peter is always learning and innovating across the boundaries of profession, culture, and home, and this has made his work influential to the different fields of leadership development, sustainability, philanthropy, and conservation. You might find him teaching spoon-carving on a city street, or giving a keynote address on courage at a national conference, or helping to heal a fracture within a community, or photographing a lost art.  What he cares most about is strengthening people’s connections to one another and the land that sustains them, the most visible and important example being his family’s farm and tapestry in the Mad River Valley of Vermont. He is the co-editor of Our Land, Ourselves, author of The Great Remembering and What Is a Whole Community,  and co-author of Coming to Land in a Troubled World, and collaborated with William Coperthwaite as the photographer for A Handmade Life. You can learn more about him at


Natural Beekeeping with Ross Conrad (DVD)

Natural Beekeeping with Ross Conrad (DVD)

By Ross Conrad

The various chemicals used in beekeeping have, for the past decades, held Varroa Destructor, a mite, and other major pests at bay, but chemical resistance is building and evolution threatens to overtake the best that laboratory chemists have to offer. In fact, there is evidence that chemical treatments are making the problem worse. Ross Conrad flips the script on traditional approaches by proposing a program of selective breeding and natural hive management.This filmed workshop follows Ross Conrad through the dos and don'ts of natural beekeeping, and offers practical information—including details on apitherapy, the use of bee products in medicinal healing—every aspiring beekeeper needs to know. Including in-the-field footage of the author and his hives, and extensive information on:

  • Beekeeping Equipment
  • Tools and Clothing
  • Bee Space
  • The Basics of Honey Bee Biology
  • Varroa Mites - Biology, Identification and Monitoring
  • Varroa Mite Control
  • Other Pests and Predators of the Honey Bee
  • Common Hive Diseases
  • Feeding Bees
  • Honey Harvesting

Ross Conrad is the author of Natural Beekeeping (Chelsea Green, 2007), where he brought together the best organic and natural approaches to keeping honeybees healthy and productive. In the book, Conrad offers crucial nontoxic methods of controlling mites, eliminating American foulbrood disease (without the use of antibiotics), breeding strategies, and many other tips and techniques for maintaining healthy hives, as well as specific concepts and detailed management techniques covered in a matter-of-fact, easy-to-implement way. The book describes opportunities for the seasoned professional to modify existing operations, increase profits, and eliminate the use of chemical treatments.

Available in: DVD

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Natural Beekeeping with Ross Conrad (DVD)

Ross Conrad

DVD $24.95

Surviving the Future

Surviving the Future

By David Fleming

A Story from Lean Logic

Surviving the Future is a story drawn from the fertile ground of the late David Fleming’s extraordinary Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It. That hardback consists of four hundred and seventy-two interlinked dictionary entries, inviting readers to choose their own path through its radical vision.

Recognizing that Lean Logic’s sheer size and unusual structure can be daunting, Fleming’s long-time collaborator Shaun Chamberlin has selected and edited one of these potential narratives to create Surviving the Future. The content, rare insights, and uniquely enjoyably writing style remain Fleming’s, but are presented here at a more accessible paperback-length and in conventional read-it-front-to-back format.

The subtitle—Culture, Carnival and Capital in the Aftermath of the Market Economy—hints at Fleming’s vision. He believed that the market economy will not survive its inherent flaws beyond the early decades of this century, and that its failure will bring great challenges, but he did not dwell on this: “We know what we need to do. We need to build the sequel, to draw on inspiration which has lain dormant, like the seed beneath the snow.”

Surviving the Future lays out a compelling and powerfully different new economics for a post-growth world.  One that relies not on taut competitiveness and eternally increasing productivity—“putting the grim into reality”—but on the play, humor, conversation, and reciprocal obligations of a rich culture. Building on a remarkable breadth of intellectual and cultural heritage—from Keynes to Kumar, Homer to Huxley, Mumford to MacIntyre, Scruton to Shiva, Shakespeare to Schumacher—Fleming describes a world in which, as he says, “there will be time for music.”

This is the world that many of us want to live in, yet we are told it is idealistic and unrealistic. With an evident mastery of both economic theory and historical precedent, Fleming shows that it is not only desirable, but actually the only system with a realistic claim to longevity. With friendliness, humor, and charm, Surviving the Future plucks this vision out of our daydreams and shows us how to make it real.

Available in: Paperback

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Surviving the Future

Shaun Chamberlin, David Fleming

Paperback $17.95

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 2

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 2

By Brad Lancaster

Turn water scarcity into water abundance!
Earthworks are one of the easiest, least expensive, and most effective ways of passively harvesting and conserving multiple sources of water in the soil. Associated vegetation then pumps the harvested water back out in the form of beauty, food, shelter, wildlife habitat, and passive heating and cooling strategies, while controlling erosion, increasing soil fertility, reducing downstream flooding, and improving water and air quality.

Building on the information presented in Volume 1, this book shows you how to select, place, size, construct, and plant your chosen water-harvesting earthworks. It presents detailed how-to information and variations of a diverse array of earthworks, including chapters on mulch, vegetation, and greywater recycling so you can customize the techniques to the unique requirements of your site.

  • Real life stories and examples permeate the book, including:
  • How curb cuts redirect street runoff to passively irrigate flourishing shade trees planted along the street
  • How check dams have helped create springs and perennial flows in once-dry creeks
  • How infiltration basins are creating thriving rain-fed gardens
  • How backyard greywater laundromats are turning "wastewater" into a resource growing food, beauty, and shade that builds community, and more.
  • How to create simple tools to read slope and water flow
  • More than 225 illustrations and photographs


Available in: Paperback

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Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 2

Brad Lancaster, Joe Marshall

Paperback $39.95

The New Livestock Farmer

The New Livestock Farmer

By Rebecca Thistlethwaite and Jim Dunlop

Including information on cattle, pigs, poultry, sheep, and goats, and exotics like bison, rabbits, elk, and deer

How can anyone from a backyard hobbyist to a large-scale rancher go about raising and selling ethically produced meats directly to consumers, restaurants, and butcher shops? With the rising consumer interest in grass-fed, pasture-raised, and antibiotic-free meats, how can farmers most effectively tap into those markets and become more profitable? The regulations and logistics can be daunting enough to turn away most would-be livestock farmers, and finding and keeping their customers challenges the rest.

Farmer, consultant, and author Rebecca Thistlethwaite (Farms with a Future) and her husband and coauthor, Jim Dunlop, both have extensive experience raising a variety of pastured livestock in California and now on their homestead farm in Oregon. The New Livestock Farmer provides pasture-based production essentials for a wide range of animals, from common farm animals (cattle, poultry, pigs, sheep, and goats) to more exotic species (bison, rabbits, elk, and deer).

Each species chapter discusses the unique requirements of that animal, then delves into the steps it takes to prepare and get them to market. Profiles of more than fifteen meat producers highlight some of the creative ways these innovative farmers are raising animals and direct-marketing superior-quality meats.

In addition, the book contains information on a variety of vital topics:

•    Governmental regulations and how they differ from state to state;

•    Slaughtering and butchering logistics, including on-farm and mobile processing options and sample cutting sheets;

•    Packaging, labeling, and cold-storage considerations;

•    Principled marketing practices; and

•    Financial management, pricing, and other business essentials.

This book is must reading for anyone who is serious about raising meat animals ethically, outside of the current consolidated, unsustainable CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) system.  It offers a clear, thorough, well-organized guide to a subject that will become increasingly important as the market demand for pasture-raised meat grows stronger.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

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The New Livestock Farmer

Rebecca Thistlethwaite, Nicolette Hahn Niman, Jim Dunlop, Bill Niman

Paperback $29.95