Lucas Foglia grew up with his extended family on a small farm in the suburbs of New York City. While malls and supermarkets developed around them, they heated their house with wood, farmed and canned their food, and bartered the plants they grew for everything from shoes to dental work. But while his family followed many of the principles of the back-to-the-land movement, by the time he was eighteen they owned three tractors, four cars, and five computers. This mixture of the modern world in their otherwise rustic life made him curious to see what a completely self-sufficient way of living might look like.
From 2006 through 2010, Foglia traveled throughout the southeastern United States befriending, photographing, and interviewing a network of people who left cities and suburbs to live off the grid. Motivated by environmental concerns, religious beliefs or the global economic recession, they chose to build their homes from local materials, obtain their water from nearby springs, and hunt, gather, or grow their own food.
All the people in Foglia’s photographs are working to maintain a self-sufficient lifestyle, but no one he found lives in complete isolation from the mainstream. Many have websites that they update using laptop computers, and cell phones that they charge on car batteries or solar panels. They do not wholly reject the modern world. Instead, they step away from it and choose the parts that they want to bring with them.