Welcome to Rural Sprout, dear reader; we’re so glad you’re here.
Rural Sprout began in the summer of 2019 with the goal of making a more self-sufficient lifestyle a reality for each of our readers.
Whether you’re pulling the plug on the rat race and moving off-grid, keeping a few chickens and a garden in your backyard, or even living in a city apartment dreaming of a patch of dirt to call your own – Rural Sprout is for you.
Living a more self-sufficient and natural life that’s better for the environment has become an important goal for many people these days.
And that life looks different for all of us.
For some folks, it means homesteading; for others, it means going green and living a more sustainable lifestyle; and for others still, it’s about becoming more self-reliant – making more and buying less.
No matter where you live or what your goals are, Rural Sprout can help.
We’re an eclectic group of writers all living different versions of the homesteading dream.
Cheryl is an American ex-pat living off-the-grid in Romania with her family. Elizabeth is a permaculture specialist with abundant knowledge of green-living skills. Tracey is a former off-the-grid homesteader living in a second-story apartment with a rooftop garden and a pantry full of homebrews.
And that’s just a few of us. You can meet the founder and many writers of Rural Sprout and read about their different backgrounds below.
We bring our collective knowledge and experience to Rural Sprout with the hope of making it your one-stop resource for all of your home, garden, and natural living endeavors.
We’re so glad to have you as part of the Rural Sprout family.
The best way to be updated of new articles is to join our buzzing and vibrant Facebook page here.
With 350,000+ followers, it’s one of the most popular homesteading, self-sufficiency, gardening and natural living communities on Facebook.
Meet the Team
James Penn – Founder & Editor-In-Chief
That’s me there, with my wife Daisy and our beautiful daughter, Rosa.
Daisy and I have spent most of our twelve years together living in cities around the UK in small apartments with no outdoor space.
We’ve always dreamed of living a rural lifestyle – with a large garden for growing fruits, veggies and plants and surrounded by countryside for foraging – and in 2018 we made that dream a reality by moving to Daisy’s hometown in beautiful south Devon (in the south-west of the UK).
The house we purchased came with a fairly large garden and the previous owners were keen gardeners. There was a substantial veggie patch bursting with zucchini (although we call those courgettes over here in the UK), potatoes, beetroot, butternut squash, tomatoes and more. There was the most beautiful herb garden with the largest sage bush I’ve ever seen. There were two entire raised beds dedicated to strawberries and rows and rows of raspberry canes producing more raspberries than anyone could eat.
To say we were overwhelmed would be an understatement.
I turned to the internet for advice but wasn’t satisfied with what I found. Conflicting advice across different websites led to even more confusion and articles written by people that had never put their hands in the dirt before didn’t inspire confidence.
I’ve spent my entire adult life in web publishing so I decided to build the resource I was looking for. I set about recruiting a diverse mix of expert authors and Rural Sprout was born.
Meet the rest of the team below.
Tracey Besemer – Editor
Hey there, Rural Sprout reader, my name is Tracey, and I’m so glad you popped over to my bio. Originally from upstate NY, I’m now an honorary Pennsylvanian, having lived here for the past 12 years.
I grew up spending weekends on my dad’s off-the-grid homestead.
He built our rough-hewn log cabin when I was seven years old, and I spent much of my childhood roaming the woods and getting my hands dirty.
I learned how to do things most little kids haven’t done in over a century.
We were always busy. Whether it was pressing apples for homemade cider or trudging through the early spring snows of upstate NY to tap trees for maple syrup, there were always chores with each new season.
I learned how to preserve what we grew in our garden.
And dad was organic, long before it became the popular buzzword that it is today.
As an adult living in the modern world, I continue to draw on the skills I learned as a kid. I love my Wi-Fi, and knowing pizza is only a phone call away. But I’m okay with never revisiting the adventure that is using an outhouse in the middle of January.
So, these days I consider myself to be almost a homesteader.
I take an eclectic approach to homesteading, utilizing modern convenience where I want, and choosing the rustic ways of my childhood simply because they bring me joy.
I’m a firm believer in self-sufficiency, no matter where you live, and the power and pride that comes from doing something for yourself.
I garden, even when the only space available is the rooftop of my apartment. I’ve been a knitter since age seven, and I spin and dye my own wool as well. And if you can ferment it, it’s probably in my pantry or on my kitchen counter. I can’t go more than a few days without a trip deep into the Pennsylvania State Game Lands looking for mushrooms, edible plants, or the sound of the wind in the trees.
My gift of gab and sense of humor via the written word keeps me busy as a copywriter and freelance blogger.
If you need copy that grabs your readers by the eyeballs and keeps them glued to your page, then I’m your gal. You can find me at BesemerWrites.
Follow all of my crazy homesteading adventures on Almost a Homesteader and Instagram @traceyleezle
Peace, love, and dirt under your nails,
Cheryl Magyar is a sustainable life designer and environmental freelance writer with more than twenty years experience of living a simple life close to nature.
It all started at a young age with a love for the outdoors, followed by a keen interest in goats, which turned into a love for raising ducks and mangalica pigs on the Plains of Hungary.
Currently she is homesteading in northern Romania, amidst charming haystacks, with her husband and homeschooled daughter. Their land and their life’s work is aptly named ForestCreekMeadows.
She is an avid organic gardener who can often be found eating nourishing “weeds” and making herbal infusions, just as she can be seen planting native trees to help others around the world to lower their carbon footprints.
Lydia Noyes is a homesteader and freelance writer who specializes in content creation related to health and wellness, fitness, natural living, homesteading, and organic gardening.
When not brainstorming new writing topics, you can find Lydia outdoors where she attempts to bring order to her 33-acre hobby farm in west Michigan filled with fruit trees, Nigerian dwarf goats, American guinea hogs, a multi-fruit orchard, and an organic garden that somehow manages to get bigger every year.
I like to think of myself as a writer who gardens and a gardener who writes. I’ve been writing about houseplants for years on GreenWithPurpose.com. It was a humble peace lily that gave me the houseplant bug, so I have her to thank for over a decade of plant obsession. I get a kick out of saving and reviving houseplants that others write off, although my greatest sin is still overwatering.
Over the course of the same decade, I set up three gardens from scratch in three different climates. Nowadays, when I’m not writing, you’ll probably find me pottering around my suburban backyard where I’m creating a pollinator paradise, complete with herbs, veggies and flowers. If you’re nosy like me, you can follow my plant experiments on Instagram @greenwithpurpose.
Lindsay Sheehan is a writer, researcher, and lifelong gardener who loves little more than the thrill of nurturing living things from dormant seed. Endlessly fascinated by the natural world and especially fond of native species, she is always on the hunt for new ideas and techniques surrounding organic gardening, permaculture, and environmental sustainability.
She is a firm believer in working with the forces of nature, and not against them, by creating healthy ecosystems within the garden patch. This philosophy also spills over into lifestyle through a return to our ancestral roots by becoming more self-reliant, wasting nothing, and living simply.
When not at the writing desk or tending her ever-expanding garden, Lindsay enjoys taking long walks in the wilderness, reading science fiction, and snuggling up with her two orange tabbies.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer, permaculture designer and green living consultant. She is a practical, hands-on gardener, with a background in philosophy: (an MA in English-Philosophy from St Andrews University). She has long had an interest in ecology, gardening and sustainability and is fascinated by how thought can generate action, and ideas can generate positive change.
In 2014, she and her husband moved to their forever home in the country. She graduated from allotment gardening to organically managing 1/3 of an acre of land, including a mature fruit orchard,which she has turned into a productive forest garden. The yield from the garden is increasing year on year – rapidly approaching an annual weight in produce of almost 1 ton.
She has filled the rest of the garden with a polytunnel, a vegetable patch, a herb garden, a wildlife pond, woodland areas and more. Since moving to the property she has also rescued many chickens from factory farms, keeping them for their eggs, and moved much closer to self-sufficiency. She has made many strides in attracting local wildlife and increasing biodiversity on the site.
When she is not gardening, Elizabeth spends a lot of time working remotely on permaculture garden projects around the world. Amongst other things, she has designed private gardens in regions as diverse as Canada, Minnesota, Texas, the Arizona/California desert, and the Dominican Republic, commercial aquaponics schemes, food forests and community gardens in a wide range of global locations.
In addition to designing gardens, Elizabeth also works in a consultancy capacity, offering ongoing support and training for gardeners and growers around the globe. She has created booklets and aided in the design of Food Kits to help gardeners to cool and warm climates to grow their own food, for example. She is undertaking ongoing work for NGO Somalia Dryland Solutions and a number of other non governmental organisations, and works as an environmental consultant for several sustainable companies.
Meredith Skyer is a writer, artist, and homesteader residing in Western New York with her husband and menagerie of farm critters.
She has spent the last 12 years learning and implementing a myriad of homesteading skills, specializing in growing food and animal husbandry. Her biggest passion is working in conjunction with the natural world to harvest healthy, organic food from her own backyard.
Meredith is a freelance writer and founder of Backyard Chicken Project, a place for crazy chicken people to gather, learn, and share in their love of chickens. She also contributes articles to Mother Earth News Online, From Scratch Magazine, and Grit.
Meredith works from her woodland homestead where she spends her days writing, creating animal-inspired art, and chasing after her flock of chickens.
You can visit her at www.backyardchickenproject.com