The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.


Anna with a grapeAnna is half of the duo behind Walden Effect.  She performs freelance biological inventories, web design, and grant-writing, most of which she does from home.  She's a biologist and artist who dreamed about moving back into the countryside ever since her parents dragged her kicking and screaming from their family farm at the ripe old age of eight.

She admits that her childhood memories of farming don't really match reality --- real farm life involves a lot more hard work than the eight year old was involved in!  But the reality is also much more fulfilling and she loves harvesting her own vegetables, pigging out on sun-warmed strawberries, and bathing naked in the yard.  (There are many perks to living in a secluded setting.)

Check out some of her recent nature art or read her ebook about starting a microbusiness on a shoestring.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Hi, Anna!

I've enjoyed your blog for a long time now! Today, while searching google for a mennonite bulk store in SC, up popped the Walden Effect. I've read around for a while and can't remember where, but you shared about visiting relatives in SC and going to the mennonite bulk store. Can you tell me where it's located?

I'm willing to drive.

; )

Thanks, dawn

Comment by dawn Sat Oct 8 14:24:45 2011
I'm not positive of the exact location since I always get driven there by my father, but it's not far from Due West, SC, which is in the northwest part of the state. If that sounds interesting and you can't find the store from that info, let me know and I'll pick my father's brain about the exact location.
Comment by anna Sat Oct 8 20:01:45 2011

Love the site; I found a link here while looking up external wood heating options. I've had an enjoyable time browsing through the site, but I have couple of questions. I preface this by admitting I haven't read allthe blog posts, nor have I tried any of the suggestions, although i am interested in one day homesteading and testing them out: 1. Have you considered using rammed earth or a varient to build a new dwelling? It would (theoretically) be more energy efficient, generally speaking, and fairly inexpensive, depending on your soil than the trailer. 2. For your heating, are you using dry wood, homemade charcoal or home made bio mass pellets? Have you considered the charcoal or bio mass pellets and found them to be insufficient? 3. Are the chickens your primary source of meat/protein, or your only source? I plan on thouroughly devouring everything I can find on your site and add it to my future (hopefully not a pipe-) dream to go offgrid. Thanks and keep up the great work.

Comment by James S Tue Jan 10 21:26:50 2012

Glad you've been enjoying reading! To answer your questions:

  1. We're pretty happy in our trailer (plus addition.) To be honest, building bores me and I'd rather spend my time, money, and energy on outdoor projects that literally bear fruit. But we might consider adding strawbale walls at some point and Mark would like to try an underground structure in the side of a hill. Rammed earth has always sounded like a lot of work to me, and tough to do in our wet climate where we'd be dealing with mud during most of the building period.

  2. We heat with firewood because it's so easy to find (or cut ourselves). We use charcoal on a small scale as biochar in our garden, and bio mass pellets aren't really available in our area (probably because wood is so plentiful.)

  3. We've been slowly ramping up our chicken production, and for the last year or so, they've provided all of our white meat. However, we do buy pastured lamb and beef from a friend of ours and we hunt venison.

Comment by anna Wed Jan 11 11:54:13 2012
Try Old Castle Precast . They are located in San Diego but i believe they have other sites around the U.S.
Comment by mescaleromikey Wed Mar 21 21:50:54 2012
Mescaleromikey --- Thanks for the culvert tip!
Comment by anna Thu Mar 22 09:30:19 2012

Hello My name is Kaden Coleman and I am in 8th grade. This year the advanced science class is required to do the science fair. My project is based on using urine as a fertilizer and I found a lot about that on your page. Part of the requirements for sources is to get a interview from an expert so I was wondering if you could email me so I can have a discussion with you. Thank you so much in advance. Kaden Coleman.

P.S. my email address is

Comment by Kaden Coleman Sun Sep 23 17:56:06 2012
Kaden --- I've been meaning to post a followup up about using urine as fertilizer, so your interview will be just the nudge I need. I've emailed you so we can chat online.
Comment by anna Sun Sep 23 19:47:59 2012

I have been a follower of your blog for many years, and I am finally living on my farm. I was wondering if it is too late in the year to do a kill mulch for my spring garden.


Comment by Robert Wed Jan 14 16:21:08 2015
Robert --- That's a great question. The answer is --- maybe. :-) If you're using a kill mulch to eliminate lawn and want to direct-seed into that area around the frost-free date...bad idea. On the other hand, if you use a layer of cardboard covered by a few inches of compost as a spot to transplant broccoli or tomato sets into, it might work, especially if the soil in the location is relatively good beneath the grass. Alternatively, if you're good with waiting until July or August for planting fall crops, you might even be able to direct seed there. I'd love to hear how your experiment goes!
Comment by anna Wed Jan 14 16:53:14 2015
Last edited Wed Sep 24 21:23:12 2008

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