Design a site like this with
Get started


Retiring To, Not From is an ideal resource for anyone who has thought about pursuing a simpler life, a life in which one has more control over basic necessities, a life in which one has more contact with the natural world. In this work John Twomey gives the reader a detailed account of what takes place on his farm throughout the year. He includes extensive information regarding raising and preserving vegetables and fruits; raising chickens and brook trout; managing fields, woodlands, ponds, and brushy areas for the benefit of wildlife; as well as enjoying beautiful Maine winters. Twomey’s insightful observations on the many benefits of this rural lifestyle are both moving and thought-provoking.

“John has created a wonderful gift, not only for his heirs, but also for any of us with the ideals of living a more sustainable and ecological life. Reminiscent for me of Barbara Kingsolver’s, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle—except that this experiment in living in relationship to the land and thus being fed by it, on many levels, has spanned decades. These stories of thoughtful practices, rich interdependencies, careful observation, and intrepid curiosity should inspire and inform each of us who is in conscious relationship with a particular place on this earth. Whoever reads this and adds even a few of these practices to their own lives, will leave the earth richer and healthier. ” —Larkspur Morton, Ph.D., Ecological Educator & Director of Expedition Education Institute

“Retiring To, Not From is a wonderful, detailed account of an extraordinary labor of love. Part farmers, part naturalists, and part artists, John and his partner, Leigh, offer a moving example of how to live simply, and in harmony, with all members of the natural world. Through their deep affection for the land, amazing observational skills, and myriad talents, they have successfully taken up Aldo Leopold’s call for us to become caring citizens of the entire life community. This book is brimming with excellent, simple, and practical advice. It also offers a clear depiction of how our physical, mental, and emotional needs are truly sated when we nurture and celebrate the Earth’s amazing, joy-inspiring community of life.”

—Susie O’Keeffe Susie lives in the Sheepscot River Watershed in Montville, Maine. She is a Research Associate at the College of the Atlantic, a writer and teacher.

About the Author

After 37 years as a professor at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, John retired in 2009 and moved, with his partner Leigh, to Montville, Maine. There they live simply and deliberately on the farm that John has owned since 1978. The farm operates on solar power, completely off grid, and John and Leigh work together as they produce almost all of their own food, and all of their own firewood. An avid naturalist, John has for years worked to maintain and improve the wildlife habitat on the farm. He does so by carefully scheduling the mowing of his fields and brushy areas, by planting, transplanting, grafting, and pruning hundreds of apple trees, and by planting thousands of white and chestnut oaks. Having seen farms sold and developed in his hometowns in Connecticut and Massachusetts, John long ago set his sights on owning and nurturing an old New England farm, a traditional home place. He has accomplished that and intends to permanently protect his Montville farm.