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Twenty Acres: A Seventies Childhood in the Woods

Written by Sarah Neidhardt

Narrated by Lee Ann Howlet

Duration 8 hours and 38 minutes

Sarah Neidhardt grew up in the woods. When she was an infant, her parents left behind comfortable, urbane lives to take part in the back-to-the-land movement. They moved their young family to an isolated piece of land deep in the Arkansas Ozarks where they built a cabin, grew crops, and strove for eight years to live self-sufficiently.

In this vivid memoir, Neidhardt explores her childhood in wider familial and social contexts. Drawing upon a trove of family letters and other archival material, she follows her parents’ journey from privilege to food stamps—from their formative youths, to their embrace of pioneer homemaking and rural poverty, to their sudden and wrenching return to conventional society—and explores the back-to-the-land movement of the 1970s as it was, and as she lived it.

A story of strangers in a strange land, of class, marriage, and family in a changing world, Twenty Acres: A Seventies Childhood in the Woods is part childhood idyll, part cautionary tale. Sarah Neidhardt reveals the treasures and tolls of unconventional, pastoral lives, and her insightful reflections offer a fresh perspective on what it means to aspire to pre-industrial lifestyles in a modern world.

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