This family tried powering their home with a generator and a few solar panels — until finding a better solution

The homesteading way of life suits the Stewart family’s lifelong journey to be self-sufficient in food, fodder, and power.

What began as a wish for a healthier lifestyle led Rebecca and David Stewart to homesteading on the aptly named Fodder Farm – raising animals, growing food, and being more aware of what they ate and used.

“We feel absolutely free,” says Rebecca. “We get up in the morning and choose what we want to do. We’re our own bosses.”

They also wanted to be more resourceful, choosing to go off-grid so they could be free from ongoing monthly costs and reliance on energy suppliers. “We’re driven by the knowledge that if a major event or crisis happens, we would be able to cope on our small farm.”

For the first five months, they used a small generator and a couple of 150W solar panels. “This taught us to appreciate the power we had and to not waste it.”

David and Rebecca Stewart installed their GridFree Freedom Kit as part of their goal to be more resourceful.

However, when it proved inadequate, the couple chose a Gridfree Freedom Kit and installed it themselves. It runs their lights, a fridge and chest freezer, the washing machine, vacuum, food dehydrator, small kitchen appliances, internet, chargers, and a TV in summer.

“It’s a great feeling to know it is our resource, just another way we have become self-reliant,” says Rebecca. “Apart from monitoring our power use at less sunny times, it’s pretty much the same as when we were on mains power.”

Homesteading means they’re constantly learning – something they both love – and get to enjoy a close relationship with nature.

“You reconnect with nature and feel both its peace and its intensity more. You feel just how small a part we are of this whole wondrous world. It is at times unnerving and yet also strangely freeing.

“And there’s the utter magic of an outside bath under the stars – should have built one years ago!”


Rebecca and David say you need to think about some key questions before you begin, including:

• How do you want to live?
• Does a potential property have a water supply, trees for firewood, other resources?
• What is the best use of its resources?
• How much power do you need to produce?

“Building your self-reliance and resiliency by learning all you can about this way of life is a good start,” says Rebecca. “Your land is going to be your resource and your responsibility.”


Check out the Stewarts’ GridFree set-up here.

Contact: 09 218 5533;
Facebook: @gridfreestore
Instagram: @gridfreestore
YouTube: @GridFree.Store

NZ Lifestyle Block This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine.
Discuss This Article

View by Publication

NZ Life and Leisure    NZ Lifestyle Block
Send this to a friend