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GRIT Homesteaders of the Year

Kentuckians Jennifer and Randy Luethje are committed to living in a sustainable way. Kentucky Life visited their small farm and learned about the practices that earned them an honorable mention among GRIT magazine’s Homesteaders of the Year.

In 2012, GRIT magazine announced its inaugural Homesteaders of the Year awards, and a Kentucky couple were among the runners-up. Jennifer and Randy Luethje built their homestead in Adair County with the goal of living more sustainably.

“Before we moved here, we had a checklist of what our desires were,” explains Jennifer. “It included living closer to nature, living more rurally…we wanted our next home to have more renewable energy.

“When we first came out here to do this, people would say, ‘It’s like you’re going to live in the past.’” Jennifer adds. “No, I’m going to live in the future!”

“We recognized Jennifer and Randy because they really epitomized how you start out in homesteading,” says Hank Will, Editor-in-Chief of GRIT Magazine. “Together they embraced it completely. In a year and a half’s time, they were already living off the grid, and had a dairy cow, were producing some of their meat and growing a significant garden. There’s nothing quite so compelling as a couple saying, ‘This is something we want to do. We don’t have a whole bunch of experience; we’re gonna get on-the-job training by just simply doing it.’”

The Luethjes grow a variety of vegetables and herbs. They preserve their excess harvest through canning and drying some items in their solar dehydrator. They save seeds for their subsequent growing season. They use wood for heating and cooking and have an expanding solar system for electricity.

“You learn to just go with the flow. That’s a really big thing about homesteading,” says Jennifer. “Everything isn’t perfect. It isn’t going to be perfect. It’s challenging. We’ve achieved what we really wanted to in the beginning. We have this house with renewable energy and food production. We’re satisfied with that, and we have plans for the future. We didn’t fail; we did it. It works.”

This video is part of Kentucky Life episode #1917, which originally aired on April 19, 2014. View the full episode here.