Generous Fruits: A Survey of American Homesteading by Barbara Bamberger Scott is a fascinating history of the homesteading movement, from early settlers in America up to the modern day. Written from a “walked the walk” perspective, Scott shows an obvious passion for her subject, unearthing the challenges, successes, and missteps that American homesteaders have faced over the centuries.
There are a great number of books on homesteading that cover the nuts and bolts of going “off the grid” – how to maintain an organic garden, how to generate electricity, and so on – but few, if any, cover the storied history of homesteading, and Scott wisely puts the entire movement in historical context. In this way, the book can be as useful as a strict how-to book for both seasoned and prospective homesteaders, as it can be inspiring to see homesteading as part of a lasting and growing tradition.
Beyond that, the book is immensely interesting as an historical document. Regardless of your specific interest in homesteading, there is a lot to learn here about American history, as the practice is an extension of America’s drive to freedom and independence. Given modern anxieties, homesteading is growing in popularity, making this book prescient, even as it’s looking at the movement’s history.
Thoroughly-researched and expertly written, Generous Fruits is a fascinating treasure trove of information that acts not just as a history of homesteading in America, but as a thoughtful exploration of an enduring pioneer spirit.