Earlier this week the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released their recent data showing that the United States GDP fell by 0.9% in the second quarter, after declining 1.6% in the first quarter. Generally, two consecutive quarters of a negative GDP growth means that we are officially in a recession, or very rapidly headed into one. But many Americans, especially those who practice sustainable living, are wondering—are we headed into the next Great Depression?
It’s a sobering thought to have. I think back to the talks and interviews I’ve had with our older generations of homesteaders, and it hits me to the core. The life they used to live could one day be the life that our current generations live, or that our children live. In fact, it’s one of the reasons my family tries hard to live more sustainably—so that our children are adapted and equipped to working long days, eating from our own produce, and preserving what we raise. Because one day, it will happen again.
“National prosperity, and especially the prosperity of the nation’s farmers, was not permanent; it was not to be depended on; the predictions and promises of politicians and their experts were not to be depended on; if it all had come to nothing once, it all could come to nothing again. As much as any of the old-timers, he regarded the Depression as not over and done with but merely absent for a while, like Halley’s comet. He suspected that the world of the Depression was in fact the real world.”Jayber Crow, Wendell Berry
I can recall a news episode I watched, years ago, that stated the mountain folk in the Blue Ridge and throughout Appalachia had no idea there was a “Great Depression” happening, because this was simply their life. They already grew their own food, raised their own livestock, preserved what they needed for the year, and more. Of course, some of it was also because of poverty, but I don’t believe for a second that every family lived in poverty.
People often see the photos of the Great Depression from the mid-west, which were very startling with starving children and farm families looking a mess. But the mid-west and west were also experiencing a major drought at the time called the “Dust Bowl”. This ecological set-back, combined with the Great Depression, put an even bigger stress on the mid-west and western parts of America. These are most of the photos you see from the media when it comes to the Great Depression, but this was not the picture of America as a whole. Albeit, financial stresses were major. For the record, the mid-west and western parts of America are once again experiencing severe drought.
Continuing on, it wasn’t until two years into the depression that homesteading families started feeling the depression in regard to livestock feed and other farm necessities. Supply chain disruptions were more of an issue than finances, because the homesteader wasn’t dependent on a city job. They were often just farmers and self-employed individuals. They provided for themselves from the farm, and they provided for others from the farm.
Even with supply chain disruptions, they adapted. Homesteaders are used to adapting. If homesteading has taught us nothing else, it’s that life is constantly changing. Many things in life go right, but many things also go wrong. And so, we continue forward because we have to—we naturally adapt.
Now, to put all of this into perspective for you, the GDP hit a 26.7% decline which set off the Great Depression. We are currently at a 2.5% decline here in America. It doesn’t take long, however, to get to a much steeper decline as we head into fall and winter. Businesses normally sell well in the spring and summer months, and then cut back their inventory a bit during the winter months (unless it’s winter specific items). The fact that businesses are already not reordering products in the second quarter of the year is concerning.
Within the time of the Great Depression, there was also a recession from 1937 to 1938. I have always found that interesting (since we were already in a depression), but it’s good to know your history and why it happened. At that time, Franklin D. Roosevelt was the president. He created a “new deal”, which he promised would do some balancing within the federal government (sound familiar?). By 1936, Roosevelt had increased the federal budget deficit by $13.7 billion dollars with his new deal. In 1936, our national deficit was $33.7 billion dollars.
In order to combat the national deficit, Americans were hit with a large tax increase. The federal government also cut spending. Both of which quickly led us into a recession in 1937. Why? Because people started losing their jobs. Those who wanted to work no longer had a place to work. And so, a recession began. This has already started happening. In 2021, self-employed entrepreneurs were hit hard because their tax credits were taken away. The government needs more money, so they start with the self-employed.
This is just basic economics, but here’s the kicker. Now, in 2022, the federal budget deficit isn’t $33.7 billion—it’s $2.8 trillion. We owe a lot of countries a lot of money from borrowing, and one day they’ll cash in on that, but I digress.
When we went into the “Great Recession” (yes, that’s what it was officially called) in 2009, the federal budget deficit was hovering under half-a-trillion dollars. I remember 2009 very vividly. It was the recession that prompted my husband and I to realize that the way we were living life wasn’t going to work if this recession happened again. The Lord provided for us, but we racked up a lot of credit card debt to make ends meet. My husband had lost his job because, even as a tradesman, people couldn’t afford to have things done. It was during that experience that we really knew we needed to get serious about sustaining our lives. With a brand new baby at the time (our first child), this just couldn’t happen again. We had to be prepared next time. We are now both self-employed and depend on no one for a job like we did in 2009. And while that seems scary to some, it has proven to be the best experience and moves in our life. It has enabled us to be prepared for “next time”.
Friends, when looking at the graphs and numbers, it’s time for another recession. Maybe even a depression. The beauty of it, however, is that I know many of you are absolutely prepared for it. Since starting Homesteaders of America (HOA) in 2016, we have helped hundreds-of-thousands of people gain the skills, mindset, and education in order to face troubled times like what may lie ahead. This brings me so much joy—the greater purpose.
In a recent HOA YouTube interview with Shawn and Beth Dougherty, and John Moody, Beth said to me “Amy, you must have had some intuition when you began HOA in 2016 that something was coming”. I’ll be honest, I didn’t. But I kept feeling the prompting of the Lord to begin this organization and event. I had one opposition after another. There have been times I wanted to quit, but really, I was just tired and learned to rest. But the one thing we have never lacked is the ability to have this event—be it financially or physically. I absolutely believe that we are here to help people learn how to live a sustainable life for more than just a trend or fun event. This is how HOA is different—not just “another” homesteading conference. And we welcome everyone. While most of our HOA team are believers, it doesn’t mean you have to be in order to come to our events. Just know, we have a greater purpose and reason for doing what we do. It drives us to keep going and producing.
All of this to say, whether you believe we are headed towards a spiraling recession, or the second Great Depression, now is the time to prepare. Now is the time to prepare not only yourself and your family, but your communities.
America used to be an agrarian society—a nation of small farmers and business owners. I believe that we should get back to that society. America was strong and financially sufficient. But more importantly, we were community based, not government dependent. In a society that now tells us we should be afraid of everything and only trust what “they” shove down our throats, be the community that goes off the beaten path and says “I am not afraid”. I’m not afraid of failing. I’m not afraid of providing. I’m not afraid of taking control of my family’s health. I’m not afraid of raw milk from my milk cow or my neighbors milk cow. I’m not afraid of a Great Depression—because we lean on each other, not any government entity or hand out. Be brave.
If you don’t know what this agrarian society looked like, let me paint a picture of it for you from the older generations I’ve talked to. You can also hear some of it yourself in an interview I did with Mason Hutcheson a few years back.
Farmers and homesteaders knew their neighbors. They had bells that they would ring if someone needed help—their neighbors would come running. They would help each other harvest their fields. They shared harvest calendars. They would share equipment. This community would barter for food and products. And after the days were done, many times they’d get together on their days off and fellowship. Women would help other women in the kitchen and with their children. Men would help other men in the field. Women helped alongside their men, and men helped alongside their women. Trucks from the city would come to some homesteads and collect honey, eggs, or milk for the city folk. Children helped around the farm, and then ran off to take a dip in the creek. Days were long, but they were productive. It was simple. It was real. This was their everyday life, that’s it.
It’s not just a fairytale sounding life. It was a hard life. But man, was it beautiful. What a beautiful life to have your food source so short and small. So close to you. How beautiful it was to know your entire community around you. How amazing it was to just be home. And to like being at home. So often in today’s society, people don’t even like being at home. They don’t even know what “home” means because they are so disconnected from real life.
Wherever you are on your homesteading journey, I hope you know how blessed you are to have even begun. If you haven’t started your homesteading journey, I hope you know that you can start even if you live in an apartment in the city. Start by shortening your food and health sources. Source from your local homesteader or farmer instead of the grocery store or the big box mail service. Learn how to treat common ailments at home instead of running off to the doctor. Grow a tomato plant on your patio, and preserve batches of “imperfect” produce that you can get cheap from the local orchards and farms. If you’re already homesteading—grow more, save more, preserve more, and get to know your community more. If you don’t have a community, be a community.
I cannot stress it enough—be the community. So often I hear people say that there isn’t a community of homesteaders near them. Well, of course not, we all like being homebodies! But, that doesn’t mean you can’t cultivate one. The problem with most people is they like to talk a lot, and not actually take action. Be the go getter. Don’t be afraid to start up a local or regional homesteader’s group online and in-person. I promise, you will not regret it.
More than anything though, as we prepare for an unknown future, I hope that you’ll take time to take a deep breath and learn to be still. The world is crazy, and it pulls us in different directions. One of the things I’ve loved most about homesteading is that I have to actively choose this simple life in a world and society that is far from simple. Make sure that you are taking time each day to get away from the noise. Remember that homesteading isn’t just about growing a garden and raising livestock, but embracing the ability to be closer to the land, and the simplicity that comes with being a good steward.
At the very first HOA conference in 2017, Joel Salatin talked about what the word “homesteader” means. And the most important part of it is “home”. Everything always points back to home. Everything you do is because of “home”. It’s time to make America about the “home” again. Let’s just make sure we’re all prepared before we don’t have to choose this lifestyle any longer….it will be a necessity like never before.
Founder of Homesteaders of America. Author, blogger, podcaster, YouTube, and entrepreneur over at The Fewell Homestead — www.thefewellhomestead.com
Thank you so much Amy.
Such an important article. I started a blog intent on helping people through another Great Depression, but not being a very computer-y person (I never even had a cell phone), I couldn’t keep it going. But there is so much knowledge still in our world about how to live just fine without cars, money, even the supplies we think we “need” like canning jars or freeze dryers or electricity. My husband and I live simply, but pretty “normally” but it’s underpinned by an ability to live completely without any utilities or government input and without expensive solar arrays or lanterns or other purchased items. We just know how to live. No chicken scratch? No problem. No running water? No problem. No one EXPECTED the Great Depression. We can and we can be prepared just in case.
I would love to read your blog and to hear more about how you live without electricity and solar panels. I am interested in getting solar panels, but they are expensive! Also, how do you manage without running water? Please share your knowledge! Thank you!
I love your analogy of what homesteading is. Being home and taking care of ourselves. No government. Amen!
Great article Amy. Amen. Folks need to take a serious look at what they’re life would be like if the grocery store shelves were empty and start filling those gaps. The time to start aggregating self-sufficient folks within own local communities is now. Producing our own food, on whatever scale we can, is a huge step toward self-sufficiency. -Shawn ~ AllAboutTheGarden.com
I can remember growing up in Tennessee Ridge, Tn and the farm trucks would come around in the Summer to sell their crops of field peas, squash, beans, corn, okra, tomatoes, potatoes and what not. My mamma would always buy bushels of produce and we would all help in preparing it for the winter. We also had large gardens and my dad would raise a few cows and pigs to put in the freezer. We did know our neighbors and it was a more loving and friendly atmosphere back then with a lot of humble people who were not trying to impress each other with their houses, cars and kids education status.
I miss those days because it was just like you described. After chores we would go swimming in the neighbors creek. We would use our imaginations and not depend on television for entertainment. We were not allowed to watch much tv and were restricted to only a few programs. Boy am I thankful for that.
For the past 17 years I have had several farms where I tried to show my family that this is the future; Not the dependent one. Everyone balked at the idea of having to grow food, manage animals and land plus go to work. I said that it was the only way to go back to our roots of home, family and a Godly life. Now they will suffer for their shortsightedness.
So, we are on our third and last farm. I am too old to continue moving closer to my sons and their children. I will continue to plant orchards, vegetables, grains, raise chickens and ducks…..maybe goats again and who knows what else. It is a life worth living.
God Bless Homesteaders of America.
I, too, remember things like this growing up in Louisiana. And we’ve been hoping to set the example for family by living close to the land for quite a while now. In my heart I still hope they’ll get on board.
What a coincidence. I moved down to Louisiana last year to live with my son and his family but things did not work out with his wife. We moved back to Kentucky where my husband had not yet lost his job due to illegal “mandates”.
I think those that get the call from God are the pathfinders for others. It really stresses me to see my sons ignore all the signs but I cannot get their attention. Yesterday I bought fruit trees and plants and will be planting them this weekend. I already have a small plot of Autumn vegetables and 17 baby chicks in the pole barn. The ducks will be here today.
Thanks for sharing, Nancy. God Bless.
Amy, I can’t express enough how much your perspective and discernment to share your thoughts and feelings on the current climate past and present. I believe God is calling us to make big changes in our nation (He has been for some time) and it starts at home. My family and I are looking forward to continuing to grow in our homesteading journey, and look forward to experiencing the fall HOA for the very first time! May God continue to bless you and yours 🙂
Thankyou for this post. We’re subsistence farmers and have been for a while. We have gone it alone and very much desire community. I don’t know where to begin to find that.
I hear that Nancy. We are micro homesteaders living in a skoolie and gardening, learning and producing more of our own food and supplies as time rolls on. We change locations every so often within our state and stay close to our family, but still have such a strong desire to know other like minded people. Just to sit and have a conversation over coffee and talk about the season would be so nice! Sharing a meal, or extra harvest… I can see it and feel it, and have even thought of posting a wanted ad on Craigslist! (No socials for us). Praying something gives for us and you soon. If anyone is in SE PA- holler!
Riegelsville pa here!!!
I grew up on a homestead in Southern Maryland. I believe my friends considered us poor but in reality we were rich in knowledge and close to Lord.
My granny had farmed there from 1925-1979.The old farm house has a historical society place mark. Honestly it was the Best growing up life a kid could ever have. After we left the farm and moved to FL suburbs as granny was old and finally went home to the Lord. I yearned more and more to get back to my roots. I was 42 in 2007. I sold everything I had, quit my career and moved NE Alabama to Lookout Mtn and have never been happier. I’ve been growing most all my own food since 2014 and 2022 just about all of it nowadays. What a Blessing. The 08 crash happened and I was so glad to be here debt free. The funniest thing though was in 2015, I decided to type into the YT search bar “Homesteaders” and I couldn’t believe how many channels there were. I had thought that I was the only crazy lady who wanted to live this lifestyle. Lol Wow! How Awesome to know I’m not alone and that Homesteading had become popular. That was so Cool. Im one of those who doesn’t have community nearby. All the farmers nearby are way older than us with their whol families living near them. So there’s no one to share, barter with. I should start something in.my area. I am too lazy to start and manage a group on Facebook and who would I add anyways? I literally never met anyone around my area to help. Maybe someday.
Wow, Donna, wonderful story! My husband and I are pretty much going it alone as well with no family support or community. I am also too overworked and lazy to start a community FB page or blog but I keep thinking this is an important step in forming a community of like minded people. I hope you find yours! God Bless.
I would not call you “lazy” in not starting a Facebook group. I would say you are busy with other stuff!
Great article, thank you. I appreciate the work you’re doing. Being new to homesteading and just recently finding your group, I am encouraged by seeing that there are other like minded people doing the same thing, and having the same struggles as my wife and I. Though we can’t make the conference this year, we would really like to next year. Thanks again!
I read an article recently that stated while over 88% of millennials and Gen Z live in urban and suburban areas, over 48% surveyed said they would live in rural areas if they could swing it. That tracks my personal experience of having conversations with people when picking up things like furniture purchased off the marketplace; standing in their driveway chatting, every time I mention we have 15 acres outside of town the response is almost always “I would LOVE that.” It’s in our DNA to want to live simply and be connected to nature, but people don’t know HOW to “get out”. Now is a shifting point; never before have we been able to maintain off farm incomes with the help of the internet AND have a farm. We are self employed and work from home (I’m an artist, husband is a locksmith). Many young people are realizing this new dream with remote work. Keep it up, people want and need this! We need to inspire the next generation, they are looking for ways to make it happen.
I am building a micro-urban (suburban) farm on just under an acre, growing veggies, have fruit tress and berry bushes and hopeful to have chickens in the future. I am grateful that you do not expect everyone to be a “believer” as I am spiritual but not religious in the traditional sense. But what I know is good people are good, they treat everyone with respect and offer knowledge when they have it to give, and leave the judging to our higher power. That is what I see here in HOA and I am grateful. I also feel alone in the midst of a city area! I hope to learn more from this community, many thanks.