Almost two years ago, envious of friends in a nearby county who were part of a regular monthly gathering of homesteaders and sustainable farmers, we decided to try to create a group of our own. And Piedmont Sustainable Living was born.

Every month we gather, usually at our place, for a potluck meal followed by a discussion. Anyone is welcome, but most of the people who attend are homesteaders or sustainable farmers.

It’s a great group of folks. We enjoy being able to spend time with people who don’t think we’re weird. People who “get it.”

The food is always amazing.

The picture would be more appealing if I'd taken it BEFORE we ate all the food.

The picture would be more appealing if I’d taken it BEFORE we ate all the food.

One person took a picture of her plate and posted it on Facebook and Instagram. I copied it from there.

One person took a picture of her plate and posted it on Facebook and Instagram. I copied it from there.

Our gathering is on third Saturday of every month. This month the topic was wine making. It was an especially cheerful gathering.

Wine is one of the few things we still buy, which we should be producing ourselves. Making wine has been on my to-do list a while. Three regulars attendees led the discussion: a dedicated hobbyist who makes delicious wine (I sampled his honeysuckle wine and it was tremendous), a professional meadmaker who treated us to some of his amazing creations and a man who makes homemade wine using simple techniques (“redneck wine,” in his words).

Discussing how to make wine

Discussing how to make wine

I haven’t started yet, but now I’m inspired to give it a shot. Soon, I hope.

Last month the topic was beekeeping. Next month it’s home brewing. In October we’re going to discuss basic emergency preparedness.

Beyond eating well and learning a lot, the gathering is just plain fun. Good fellowship with good like-minded people.

Starting up this group has enriched our lives and I’m confident lots of those who attend would say it has enriched their lives too.

We share homesteading-related information on the Piedmont Sustainable Living Facebook page. If you use Facebook and that sounds interesting to you, just “like” the page. Better yet, if you’re in the area, join us at 5 p.m. on the third Saturday of every month.


29 comments on “PSL

  1. shoreacres says:

    I grew up with rhubarb, cherry, and dandelion wine.

    Prior to Hurricane Ike, there was a little winery across the bay that made wine from local fruits: blackberry, pear, and so on. Ike destroyed the winery and spread bottles of wine across the country. A small crew went out, collected the bottles, washed them off and relabeled them. They sold like crazy, the wine still was darned good, given that it had been lying in full sun in flooded ditches, and the money helped the winery folks begin to rebuild. Maybe I’ll repost that story.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. BeeHappee says:

    Bill, when you start that wine and mead making enterprise, we are definitely visiting. 🙂

    My mom made liquor from every possible fruit and herd, but we never did try wine. Oh, we did use to make some very simple apple alcohol, not sure if it qualifies as wine.
    I like your little group, very inspiring, and looks like one hungry bunch. 🙂 Many small CSAs in our area created a coalition called Band of Farmers and they share resources, have many events, including celebrations with talent shows.


    • Bill says:

      We have lots of watermelons and cantaloupes these days and I’d like to try turning some of them into wine. This old dog has learned some new tricks before, so maybe I’ll manage it. We’ll see. 🙂

      Band of Farmers sounds great. We formed a farmer-specific group once but it eventually died. This one is better, and we don’t emphasis the business side. Some of the folks who attend farm for a living, but most are just interested in sustainability and homesteading skills. It’s a great group of people and I really look forward to our gatherings.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, (big sigh) you are so making me envious that I don’t live closer. Your group is the epitome of “It’s takes a village” in the best sense of the phrase. Without having support of other like minded people, it’s difficult to keep a positive attitude. I’m really encouraged that you are finding that support. Maybe you could trade some thing for a few bottles of wine. All homesteaders seem to have a specialty that sets them apart from the others.

    Looks like we are going to get more rain here today. We are already four and a half inches above the average rain fall. The temperatures are a full 10 degrees below normal with temperatures falling into the lower 50s at night. I’m not sure what’s up for fall but the garden plants are already drying up and the tomatoes really never had the summer flush of over whelming ripening. There’s lots of green tomatoes still on the vines as they continue to dry up. I’ve never seen this before. It’s not a disease or insect activity. It’s just fall plant preparation. Leaves are starting to fall from the trees which normally doesn’t happen here until late September. It just looks like we are in for a very early winter here in Nebraska. It’s really been a strange year for weather here.

    Have a great community bonding day.


    • Bill says:

      Meanwhile it’s way too dry here. Fall seeds aren’t germinating and I’m having to irrigate. Go figure.

      Our PSL group is great. Most of the people who come we didn’t know before we started up the group. Not only do we share information, skills and food, but we have great fellowship. It’s been a blessing! Wouldn’t it be fun if the blogging community could gather for a meal once a month like that? I love our virtual community, but I’m sure glad with have a real live flesh-and-blood one as well.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. farmerkhaiti says:

    After watching orange is the new black and seeing jail-made hooch, I was like- I gotta get back on this! I can make all local and even 100% organic alcohol at home on the cheap!! I have been tackling “honey hooch” this summer with great results. 1 quart honey to one gallon of wine, and a fruit or flower, bring to a boil, cool to body temp, and then strain into gallon jugs and add about tsp of baking yeast, then cap with a balloon. I made lavendar mead first, then hibiscus, now I have wild plum and a weird jam/jelly combo brewing. I think you are supposed to age it, but, I just wait til the balloon starts to wither and the main ferment is done, about a month or so. I also have been making random fruit wines with organic sugar, now that I ran out of honey. Apple season just started with the early ones, and Mel and I made apple wine colored with a shredded beet, and also started apple vinegar with all the cores left over. I love the idea of your group having topics instead of just random conversation, great way to keep it progressive and exciting. Maybe I’ll think of getting something similar going here. Do you find having it be official like helps it be more valueable to the group? I mean versus just a group of friends gathering?


    • Bill says:

      I want to do what you’re doing Khaiti! It’s a variation of what my friend calls “redneck wine.” He used to be a cop and he also told me about how the prisoners make it in jail. Fascinating. I’m hoping to try with watermelons and cantaloupes. By the way, tell Mel we miss her and that the cantaloupe garden she took such good care of is now producing an abundance of beautiful delicious melons!

      When we started out, we didn’t have a set topic each month. But we found it motivates people if we do. We had wild mushrooms as a topic one month and someone brought mushrooms they’d picked that day and cooked them on the spot. Amazing. Having the gathering at the same time and same day every month helps people plan for it on their calendars. We all look forward to it. I’d highly encourage you do it. We’re kind of isolated out here and without regular contact with people who share our values. The group has been a real blessing to us.

      Liked by 1 person

    • farmerkhaiti says:

      haaaa, that should say 1 gallon of water to 1 quart of honey!!! I will pass along your greetings to Mel for sure!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. avwalters says:

    Ooh, I’m jealous. It’ll be awhile–but that’s a plan! I guess I can start with my beekeeping group.


    • Bill says:

      It’s a fun gathering and we look forward to it every month. We’re surrounded by farms and rural people, but not many people who get what we’re about here. This gathering has been a great way to form community and we’ve shared a lot of knowledge and a lot of good food. Best of all, we’ve made good friends. I’d highly recommend trying to connect with a group like this. If there isn’t one around, start one!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. DanI says:

    It sounds wonderful. Life used to be like that – neighbours / communities sharing knowledge / info / encouragement. These days everyone seems focused on themselves.

    We’e lost a lot – but, it looks like you’ve gained 🙂


    • Bill says:

      We’ve been really pleased with our gatherings. We just put on the word, inviting anyone with an interest in sustainable living/homesteading and from that it’s grown to a wonderful group of friends (most of whom we didn’t know beforehand). It’s our idea of a fun night!


  7. ain't for city gals says:

    These group dinners make everything more fun and keeps us grounded a bit too. We hope to host a “Friendsgiving” sometime in Nov for all of our hard working farmer market vendors….they deserve it!


  8. Laurie Graves says:

    The food looks delicious, and fellowship just adds that extra dimension.


  9. Joanna says:

    What a fabulous idea


    • Bill says:

      Our friend who started a group like this in a different county encouraged us when he said the first time they met it was just four people sitting around a table. Within a year they had a vibrant community. So we just put it out there, not sure if it would appeal to anyone. It turned out that we weren’t the only people in the area yearning for this kind of community.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Joanna says:

        If we ever get a house built out on our land, we will definitely be doing something like this. It’s not so easy when our lives are split between places


  10. rhondajean says:

    Hi Bill, now that’s a group I’d like to be a part of – or a fly on the wall. Thanks for the link to four sides farm.


  11. Seeking Joyful Simplicity says:

    That’s excellent Bill, so glad you could make this happen and that you have so many people who enjoy connecting. As we become more settled into our new community, perhaps I could encourage a smiliar gathering. Thank you for the inspiration!


    • Bill says:

      I highly recommend it Michelle. Maybe you can find an existing group in your area. If not, just start one up! If you ever decide to try it (I know you have a very full plate right now) I’d be happy to share thoughts and tips based on our experience.


  12. This is community building at its finest. Wonderful!


  13. Farmgirl says:

    What a wonderful idea! One I may implement when we get back on a farm. I can’t wait to try my chokecherry wine next week!


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