A Simple Life at a Farm in Maine

Inspired by legendary back-to-the-landers Scott and Helen Nearing, Kate NaDeau lives simply and seasonally in a handbuilt stone house on a twenty-six-acre Maine hillside.


| May/June 2001



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Kate designed organically shaped beds that undulate through the terraced hillside, planted with evergreens, shrubs, and perennials. She built up the thin soil by growing cover crops such as buckwheat and winter rye, then tilling them into the soil as green manure.

Photography By Carolyn Bates

When Kate NaDeau’s former husband, Phil, suggested they leave Northern California for Maine, she had a typical West Coast reaction. “Maine!? That’s the North Pole. I couldn’t live there!’” she laughs. But Kate, Phil, and their eleven-year-old son, Justin, craved a simple farming life, and they couldn’t afford the kind of acreage they wanted in the already-escalating California market. In his campaign to move his family east, Phil introduced Kate to Scott and Helen Nearing, pioneers of the back-to-the-land movement. As Kate read the Nearings’s simple living manuals, “I was totally blown away not only by the integrity the Nearings brought to the garden, but the fact that they could garden that much in Maine,” she says.

So Kate’s family traveled to Maine’s central coast in early December, a time when Kate figured she could taste the worst of what the region might offer. “It was raw and open and stark,” she recalls. And in Monroe, Maine, the family found its paradise: twenty-six acres on a south-facing slope bordering a stream.

STONE SOUP FARM, 156 Red Barn Road in Monroe, Maine, is open to the public daily, May 1 to August 31, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For information, call (207) 525-4463.

“I live a strongly seasonal lifestyle,” says Kate, “The weather is ever changing, and farm-related activities are so different.”

Hand-Built Home

Kate and Phil had been especially taken with their property’s southern exposure because they wanted to build a passive solar home. Influenced by the Nearings, they planned to build a stone house using a slip-form method of construction and, influenced by their time on the West Coast, to incorporate elements of Japanese architecture. “I wanted to build a building that was connected to the land and fit in with what was already there,” Kate says.

So they designed a simple home, bermed into the hillside to the north and open to the south, that meanders down the hill to the west. “The idea was to weave together beauty and utility,” Kate explains. “Passive solar is so wonderful— working with the climate instead of trying to fight it—bringing in some kind of harmony, working with the elements.”





elderberry, echinacea, bee hive

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