New age homesteaders find freedom off the grid

"The degree to which we can meet our own needs is the degree to which we are free"

Monica and Sean Mitzel sustain their own land on the 40-acre proeprty in rural northern Idaho. (KOIN)
Monica and Sean Mitzel sustain their own land on the 40-acre proeprty in rural northern Idaho. (KOIN)

BONNER CO., Idaho (KOIN) — Tucked away in the mountains of Bonner County, Idaho, Monica and Sean Mitzel are what you could call new age homesteaders.

Sean Mitzel and his family live off their 40-acre property in rural northern Idaho. (KOIN)
Sean Mitzel and his family live off their 40-acre property in rural northern Idaho. (KOIN)

“We’re building something here that lasts,” Sean Mitzel told KOIN 6 News. “There’s an actual legacy.”

They’re part of the booming American Redoubt movement that’s inspiring people across the globe to adopt a simpler way of life with the goal of increasing their chances of survival in the event of a cataclysmic natural or man-made disaster.

By embracing a self-sufficient lifestyle, these survivalists hope they will be the last ones standing if modern society as we know it ceases to exist.

“There’s a little bit of getting back to the old ways… recapturing lost knowledge,” Sean explained. “We try to look at everything as a resource, if possible.”

The Mitzel family grows a variety of crops on their land, the Sovereign Sonrise Permafarm. (KOIN)
The Mitzel family grows a variety of crops on their land, the Sovereign Sonrise Permafarm. (KOIN)

The Mitzels traded in the city life of Seattle for a quieter existence in the isolated mountains of Idaho 2 years ago. The couple homeschools their 7 children and participates in local politics and the county’s gardener’s association.

Sean, who spent 24 years in the Marines, told KOIN 6 News the decision to pack up and move to rural Idaho was an easy one; it was a chance to live somewhere with more favorable laws, wide open spaces and the freedom to provide for themselves.

Monica Mitzel and her family live off their 40-acre property in rural northern Idaho. (KOIN)
Monica Mitzel and her family live off their 40-acre property in rural northern Idaho. (KOIN)

“In order for us to be more self-sufficient, I wanted to be able to walk out my front door and grab what we needed,” Monica said.

The family grows a variety of crops and raises meat chickens, laying hens, meat ducks, milk goats and sheep on their 40-acre property, the Sovereign Sonrise Permafarm. But establishing and maintaining their homestead hasn’t been easy, and now the Mitzels are sharing what they’ve learned with others.

“When we came up here we found out very quickly what we don’t know and we went, ‘huh, there’s going to be a lot of people like this,'” Monica said.

The Mitzel family grows a variety of crops and raises animals like goats on Sovereign Sonrise Permafarm. (KOIN)
The Mitzel family grows a variety of crops and raises animals like goats on Sovereign Sonrise Permafarm. (KOIN)

Unlike a lot of preppers, the Mitzels are still on the grid. They use the internet and their new website The Prepared Homestead to offer online courses and share video blogs to teach people not only what the American Redoubt is all about, but how to live a simple lifestyle, and live it successfully.

“There is some fear in a lot of people that come up here… we try to help talk people off the ledge a little bit,” Sean said. “I don’t want you to survive, I want you to thrive.”

People involved in the American Redoubt movement are often labeled as racists or unaccepting of minorities and liberals. Sean said, while those things may apply to some people, it’s nothing widespread. Preppers, he explained, aren’t wild survivalists hiding from civilization, but people escaping a world overpowered by government.

“We come here and it’s our plan… we get to do what we love,” he said. “The degree to which we can meet our own needs is the degree to which we are free.”

Monica and Sean Mitzel sustain their own land on the 40-acre proeprty in rural northern Idaho. (KOIN)
Monica and Sean Mitzel sustain their own land on the 40-acre proeprty in rural northern Idaho. (KOIN)