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Helen and Scott Nearing practically invented the back 10 the land movement. In the 1970s Maine experienced an influx of young, would-be subsistence farmers, many inspired by the Nearings and their Harborside way of life.

But the Nearings actually began their ascetic lifestyle many years before, starting in Vermont in the 1930s. where they bought a woodlot and a farm and began growing their own food. I hey built nine stone buildings over a twenty year period and supported themselves through Scott’s occasional lectures and by making and selling maple syrup.

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When a ski resort threatened to encroach on their rural existence, the Nearings moved to Harborside, Maine, to begin again. They did not w ish merely to be farmers, they chose to make a conscious escape from the capitalistic world. Scott was a noted economist, political activist, college professor, and author of many booklets on peace, eco nomic inequality, feminism, and environmental topics. He also wrote mam books, including his 1972 autobiography Making of a Radical. Helen was a classically trained musician, twenty one years his junior.

Scott and Helen also coauthored books, including Living The Good Li/e: How to Live Simply utid Sanely in a Troubled World in 1954, which became a guidebook for many who wished to emulate the lifestyle. During the Vietnam War, hundreds of anti-war young people traveled to Maine to hear Scott’s anti war message and study the Nearings’ homesteading techniques.

Scott lived to be 100, then ended his life by taking no food tor a month and half. Helen documented his choice in her book, Loving and Leaving the Good Life. Helen died in a car crash twelve vears later when she was 91.

Their Forest harm homestead is now the Good Life Center, a nonprofit educational and retreat center aimed at perpetuating the Nearing legacy and advocating for simple and sustainable living skills.

Anyone can visit the Good Life Center between late Memorial Dav and Colum bus Day check the calendar for days and times. There’s a speaker series one night a week throughout the summer, and if you want more than a visit, there’s a residency available. This seasonal residency involves staying at Forest Farm, living off the land, gardening, maintenance, guiding tours for visitors, and “combining hand labor and intellectual pursuit.”

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