Back to the Land in Silicon Valley

by Marlene Anne Bumgarner

“We all worked together. Ate together. Sang together. Learned together. We had a good life. After living close to the natural cycles of the earth year after year, good and not good, we grew stronger and more resilient, learned to manage our occasional conflicts with tolerance and love.”

When Marlene Bumgarner and her husband moved to a rural plot of land in 1973, she thought of herself as simply a young mother seeking an affordable and safe place in which to raise her child.

By the time she left the land nearly a decade later, she had written two books and a weekly newspaper column, served as contributing editor to a national magazine, a college instructor, and a sought-after public speaker. Her natural food store, The Morgan Hill Trading Post, was the first one in her community.

Follow Marlene and her friends as they live on the land, coping with the challenges of rural life as Silicon Valley evolves into the high-tech center it is today, and the world in which they live transforms itself culturally, economically, and politically.

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Reader Reviews

“Marlene Bumgarner shares a powerful memoir of young lives bridging the quiet abundance of the Valley of Heart’s Delight and the world-changing potential of the nascent Silicon Valley at a unique moment when the two coexisted. This is an intimate story of a teacher, writer, entrepreneur, wife, and loving mother finding her footing on a special piece of land and the resilience to navigate the seismic shifts of the time and her life. Her reflections on homesteading, education, family, community, and the visionaries who saw the future in computing will make this a rewarding journey for a wide array of readers.”

Don Burgett, Co-Executive Director of Life Lab

“This book is Little House on the Prairie for grown-ups, offering an adult perspective on the ever-complicated pursuit of the simple life. Bumgarner recounts the good times, like the satisfaction of building a sustainable farm and garden, as well as the hard times, like the uphill battles to meet code and the inevitable losses on a homestead. She exchanges the idealism of youth for the wisdom of experience earned through seasons of self-reliance spent on the land.”

Tara Besore, Hammer & a Headband

“With humor, insight, and love, Marlene Bumgarner captures the essence of the 70s “back to the land” movement. She dreams of paradise when she, her husband, and their toddler join with another couple to purchase 10 acres in the rolling hills of coastal California. Despite heartbreak, disappointments, and a life-changing accident, uplifting joy and a deep connection to the land anchor her life. An enthralling memoir.”

Nancy Wood, author of the Shelby McDougall mystery series

“Marlene Bumgarner’s path back to the land is set beside the path of technology at a time when silicon was just beginning its path to defining a region. It is an engaging story of dreams, challenges, and that uncomfortable place where ideals meet reality. She uses the characters and events in her life to paint a vivid picture of a mother seeking a peaceful country life, and finding much more than she ever imagined … including her own extraordinary resilience.”

Cristina McCutcheon, Farmer/Garden Educator