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Bookshop Santa Cruz: Lloyd Kahn, The Half-acre Homestead

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Lloyd Kahn

About Bookshop Santa Cruz: Lloyd Kahn, The Half-acre Homestead

Bookshop Santa Cruz welcomes green architecture pioneer Lloyd Kahn back to the store for a presentation of his new book, The Half-Acre Homestead: 46 Years of Building and Gardening.

Lloyd, the former shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog, has published seven books on owner building, showcasing hundreds of builders, but this is his first book on his own work, and that of his wife Lesley, in building and house and creating a garden in the seaside town of Bolinas over a 46-year period.

The Half-Acre Homestead chronicles how Lloyd and Linda started with a vacant half-acre piece of land, built their own home, created a garden with vegetables and fruit, and raised chickens, bees, and goats. The book also covers cooking, foraging, fishing, crafts, birds, butterflies, and tools. All of their work was done by hand and they have never paid rent or had a mortgage.

Over 500 photos illustrate all the above facets of their lives and provide clear explanations of building skylights, maintaining a septic system, building greenhouses and raised vegetable beds. There is a section on unique kitchen tools, as well as advice on useful tools used in construction. The Half-Acre Homestead is filled with advice for anyone thinking of building a home these days.

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from a Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers.

Kahn lived in Santa Cruz in the '50s. He was a surfer before wetsuits, and was a beach lifeguard in 1955. He also lifeguarded at the Santa Cruz Plunge and taught swimming at The Plunge at Pleasure Point. He went into the insurance business in 1960, and was Jack O'Neill's first insurance broker.

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