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The Life of Joe Hollis: Living Off-Grid for Half a Century

Deep in the woods of North Carolina resides Joe Hollis, a man who has spent the last 50 years living off the grid. He has honed a lifestyle that is completely in tune with nature, relying on his natural surroundings for survival. Not only does Joe boast an impressive collection of native Appalachian and Chinese medicinal herbs, but he also advocates for the health benefits of Chinese herb Gynostemma pentaphyllum. Despite the medical establishment’s disapproval of herbs, Joe believes it stems from a historical rivalry and lack of funding for herbal practices. With a passion for sustainable living and a desire to pass on his knowledge, Joe is now working to create an eco-village where his work can continue and thrive.

In a captivating video by Peter Santenello, we get an intimate glimpse into Joe Hollis’ extraordinary lifestyle. Living in an eight-person eco-village, Joe aims to create a paradise garden with an abundance of edible and medicinal plants. The garden is not just aesthetically pleasing but also serves as an ecological wonder, promoting a balanced relationship between nature and society. Joe’s dedication to sustainable living and his unique blend of Appalachian and Chinese herbal knowledge make him a remarkable figure worth getting to know. Join us on this adventure as we explore the fascinating world of Joe Hollis and his life off the grid in North Carolina.

The interviewed person started a project on wasteland, turning it into a functional space

Background and Lifestyle

Joe Hollis’ Off-the-Grid Life in North Carolina

Imagine living off the grid, disconnected from the hustle and bustle of modern society. This is the reality for Joe Hollis, a man who has carved out an unconventional lifestyle in the hills of North Carolina. Away from the noise and pollution, Joe has found solace in the natural environment, thriving by embracing a simpler way of life.

Surviving off the Natural Environment

Joe Hollis is a self-sufficient individual who relies on the bounties of the natural environment for his survival. He has honed his skills in foraging, hunting, and fishing, ensuring that he has enough food to sustain himself throughout the year. By living in harmony with nature, Joe has unlocked the potential of the land, providing for his basic needs without relying on the modern conveniences most of us take for granted.

Mastering Native Appalachian and Chinese Medicinal Herbs

A true renaissance man, Joe Hollis has also delved deep into the world of medicinal herbs. He has become a master of native Appalachian and Chinese herbal practices, gaining knowledge that has been passed down through generations. By understanding the healing properties of these herbs, Joe has developed the ability to treat various ailments using natural remedies, harnessing the power of nature to promote health and well-being.

Creating an Eight-Person Eco-Village

Joe’s passion for sustainable living extends beyond his own lifestyle. He has taken it upon himself to create an eight-person eco-village, a community of like-minded individuals who share his vision of harmonious living with nature. Together, they cultivate the land, generate their own power, and support one another in their quest for self-sufficiency. This model of communal living not only provides a sense of belonging but also allows for the pooling of resources and knowledge, making it easier for everyone to thrive in this off-the-grid paradise.

50 Years Off the Grid

Promoting Gynostemma Pentaphyllum and Herbal Practices

Highlighting the Health Benefits of Gynostemma Pentaphyllum

One of Joe Hollis’ main missions is to promote the incredible health benefits of Gynostemma Pentaphyllum, a rare herb native to China. Known as the “miracle herb,” Gynostemma is touted for its adaptogenic properties, which help the body adapt to stress and promote overall well-being. Joe firmly believes that incorporating this herb into one’s daily routine can enhance longevity and improve quality of life.

The Medical Establishment’s Disapproval of Herbs

While Joe Hollis has witnessed firsthand the transformative power of herbal practices, he acknowledges that the medical establishment does not always see eye to eye. Many traditional medicine systems, including Chinese herbal medicine, have faced skepticism and disapproval from mainstream medicine. However, Joe remains undeterred, as he continues to educate others about the profound healing potential of herbs and works towards bridging the gap between alternative and conventional medicine.

Discovery of Adaptogens and Immune System

Joe’s fascination with herbs and their medicinal properties led him to delve into the science of adaptogens. These natural substances have the remarkable ability to help the body resist various forms of stress, supporting the immune system and promoting overall health. By studying adaptogens and their interactions with the body, Joe has gained a deeper understanding of how herbs can be used to optimize well-being and improve longevity.

Herbal Preparations Taught at an Asheville School

Sharing his knowledge and passion for herbal practices, Joe Hollis has been teaching classes at an Asheville school, enlightening others about the medicinal properties of plants. Through hands-on workshops and lectures, he imparts valuable information about the preparation and use of herbal remedies. By empowering individuals to take control of their health naturally, Joe ensures that his wisdom will be passed on to future generations.

The Income Sources: Plant Walks and Educational Activities

Joe Hollis has found creative ways to sustain his off-the-grid lifestyle and promote his herbal practices. One such avenue is conducting plant walks, where he guides individuals through the wilderness, teaching them about the diverse flora that surrounds them. Additionally, Joe offers educational activities, such as workshops and seminars, to share his deep understanding of self-sufficient living and herbal medicine. Through these income sources, he not only supports himself but also spreads awareness about sustainable living and the power of herbal remedies.

Selling Seeds, Plants, and Preparations for Income

To further support his lifestyle and mission, Joe Hollis sells a variety of products derived from the natural environment. He offers seeds and plants, enabling others to start their own herbal gardens and embark on their journey towards self-sufficiency. Additionally, Joe prepares herbal remedies such as tinctures, salves, and teas, harnessing the healing properties of herbs to create potent remedies for those in need. Through these sales, he not only generates income but also fuels a holistic approach to wellness within his community.

Goji Berries: Not Tropical and Grow in North Dakota

Contrary to popular belief, Goji berries, known for their extraordinary health benefits, are not limited to tropical regions. Joe Hollis discovered that these nutrient-rich berries can actually thrive in North Dakota, a region with a much harsher climate. By debunking misconceptions regarding the growth requirements of these berries, Joe has empowered individuals in colder regions to cultivate their own Goji berry bushes, providing them with a local source of this superfood.

Supplements for Those Unable to Grow Their Own Plants

Recognizing that not everyone has the means or space to cultivate their own plants, Joe Hollis also offers herbal supplements for those who are unable to grow their own medicinal herbs. By providing a reliable source of high-quality herbs, he ensures that individuals can still benefit from nature’s healing properties, even in the absence of a garden. This accessibility allows anyone to tap into the power of herbal remedies and experience the potential health improvements they offer.

Tinctures Sold in Temporary Shop, Herb Shop Burned Down

In his quest to make herbal remedies readily available to the community, Joe Hollis established a temporary shop where he sold his tinctures, salves, and other herbal preparations. Unfortunately, his permanent herb shop was destroyed in a fire, but Joe remains undeterred. He continues to find alternative ways to reach those in need, utilizing online platforms and local markets to ensure that his herbal remedies remain accessible to all.

The interviewed person started a project on wasteland, turning it into a functional space

Living and Working on the Property

Apprentices and Woofers for Assistance and Living

Maintaining an off-the-grid lifestyle and an eight-person eco-village is no small task, which is why Joe Hollis welcomes apprentices and WWOOFers (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) to his property. These individuals assist with various tasks, from tending to the gardens and animals to building and maintenance projects. In return for their contributions, they are provided with accommodation and a chance to experience a different way of living in harmony with nature.

Passing on Knowledge and Promoting a Different Way of Living

Joe Hollis’s commitment to sustainable living extends beyond his personal lifestyle. He is dedicated to passing on his knowledge and promoting a different way of living to future generations. Through workshops, classes, and hands-on experiences, he imparts valuable skills and insights to apprentices and visitors, inspiring them to embrace a more harmonious relationship with the natural world. By doing so, he hopes to create a ripple effect, spreading the ethos of sustainable living far and wide.

Forest Bathing and Direct Relationship with Nature

A practice deeply ingrained in Joe Hollis’ daily life is forest bathing, also known as Shinrin-Yoku. This Japanese concept involves immersing oneself in the forest and connecting with nature on a profound level. By simply being present in the natural environment, Joe cultivates a direct relationship with the land, fostering a sense of calmness and rejuvenation. Through forest bathing, he encourages others to appreciate the healing power of nature and its ability to restore balance in our chaotic lives.

Feng Shui and Chinese Gardens for Optimum Energy

An intriguing aspect of Joe Hollis’ property is the incorporation of Feng Shui principles into the layout and design of the land. Inspired by Chinese gardens, Joe has ensured that every aspect of his eco-village is in harmony with the surrounding environment, allowing for optimum energy flow. This intentional design not only creates a tranquil and harmonious living space but also enhances the overall sense of well-being for all who reside within the community.

English Landscaped Gardens for Beauty

In addition to the Chinese gardens, Joe Hollis has incorporated English landscaped gardens into the property, adding aesthetic beauty to the functional aspects of sustainable living. These meticulously designed gardens showcase his appreciation for artistry and serve as a testament to the potential fusion of beauty and functionality within a harmonious living space. The English gardens provide a soothing atmosphere, offering a picturesque backdrop for those seeking tranquility and inspiration.

Chinese Gardens: Balancing Nature and Society

The Chinese gardens within Joe Hollis’ eco-village serve as a symbol of the delicate balance between nature and society. Drawing inspiration from centuries-old Chinese design principles, these gardens seamlessly blend elements of nature with architectural features, striking a harmonious synergy. By embodying this balance, Joe demonstrates the possibility of living in harmony with the natural world while still enjoying the conveniences and comforts that society offers.

The interviewed person started a project on wasteland, turning it into a functional space

Challenges and Future Perspectives

Living in Tune with Nature in a Modern World

Living in tune with nature presents its fair share of challenges, especially in our modern, fast-paced society. Joe Hollis recognizes the need to strike a balance between our interconnectedness with the natural world and the convenience and progress that modern living provides. He advocates for finding ways to integrate sustainable practices into everyday life, allowing individuals to reconnect with nature even amidst the demands of the modern world.

Availability of Arable Land per Person Worldwide

One of the greatest obstacles in achieving sustainable living on a global scale is the availability of arable land. As the global population continues to grow, the demand for land for housing, infrastructure, and agriculture also increases. Joe Hollis emphasizes the importance of valuing and preserving arable land, urging us to explore alternative methods of cultivation and strive for self-sufficiency, even within limited spaces.

Turning Wasteland into a Functional Space

A common challenge faced by many proponents of sustainable living is the transformation of wasteland into a functional and productive space. Joe Hollis has witnessed firsthand the potential of reclaiming abandoned or neglected land and turning it into thriving gardens and ecosystems. By restoring the land’s fertility through regenerative agriculture practices and permaculture techniques, he demonstrates that even seemingly inhospitable environments can be rejuvenated and made productive.

Advice for Young People: Start with a Small Piece of Land

For young people aspiring to embrace a sustainable lifestyle, Joe Hollis offers valuable advice: start with a small piece of land. By beginning on a small scale, individuals can gain experience and confidence in sustainable practices without becoming overwhelmed. This gradual approach allows them to fine-tune their techniques, learn from their mistakes, and eventually expand their lifestyle towards self-sufficiency on a larger scale.

Primitive Societies vs. Modern Society

Joe Hollis reflects on the stark contrast between primitive societies and the complexities of modern society. While modern advancements have undoubtedly brought comfort and convenience, he believes that we have become increasingly detached from nature and our interconnectedness with the Earth. By studying and embracing the practices of primitive societies, we can rekindle this connection, leading to a more sustainable and harmonious way of life.

Facing the Challenges of Climate Change

Climate change poses a significant challenge to the pursuit of sustainable living. Joe Hollis acknowledges the urgency of collectively addressing this crisis and advocates for environmentally conscious practices that minimize our carbon footprint. Through sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, and mindful consumption, he believes that we can mitigate the impact of climate change and preserve the planet for future generations.

The Shift towards Right-Wing Views and Authority

In recent years, Joe Hollis has observed a concerning shift towards right-wing views and authoritarianism. He believes that this trend poses a great challenge to the progress of sustainable living, as it often prioritizes short-term gains over long-term sustainability. Joe encourages individuals to remain vigilant and continue advocating for a more harmonious and equitable approach to both our natural and societal environments.

Challenges of Working Together in an Individualistically Driven Culture

In a culture that often values individualism, the challenges of working together towards sustainable living become apparent. Joe Hollis highlights the importance of fostering a sense of community and interdependence, as sustainable living is not solely achieved through individual efforts. By fostering a collective mindset and embracing cooperation, we can overcome the barriers that arise from an individualistically driven culture.

Fragmentation of Modern Society

Modern society is plagued by fragmentation, with individuals feeling increasingly disconnected from each other and the natural world. Joe Hollis acknowledges this issue and underscores the importance of building cohesive communities that prioritize collaboration and shared values. By creating spaces that foster a sense of belonging and interdependence, we can combat the fragmentation of modern society and create a stronger foundation for sustainable living.

Sustaining Indefinitely with Current Resources

A vital consideration in the pursuit of sustainable living is the concept of sustaining indefinitely with our current resources. Joe Hollis recognizes that our planet’s resources are finite and emphasizes the need for responsible consumption and regenerative practices. By implementing sustainable strategies such as permaculture, resource conservation, and renewable energy, we can minimize our impact on the environment and ensure a more sustainable future.

Shelters and Structures for Sustainable Living

The construction of shelters and structures plays a crucial role in sustainable living. Joe Hollis emphasizes the importance of utilizing locally sourced and eco-friendly materials, such as timber and earthen construction techniques, to minimize environmental impact. By creating structures that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing, we can harmoniously integrate our living spaces with the natural environment.

Remote and Intentional Communities

Remote and intentional communities, such as Joe Hollis’ eco-village, offer a blueprint for sustainable communal living. By consciously selecting individuals who share a common vision and values, these communities foster a sense of unity and purpose. Through the pooling of resources and knowledge, they create environments where sustainable practices can flourish, serving as beacons of hope for a more harmonious future.

Relearning the Challenge of Living in Community

Living in community is not without its challenges, as Joe Hollis has learned firsthand. It requires individuals to confront their differences, compromise, and actively work towards a shared goal. However, he firmly believes that the benefits of communal living, such as shared resources and support, far outweigh the challenges. By continually learning and growing together, communities can create resilient and sustainable living environments.

Emphasis on Money and its Impact on Interdependence

In modern society, the emphasis on money often eclipses the importance of interdependence. Joe Hollis observes that this narrow focus can hinder the progress of sustainable living, as it prioritizes individual gain over collective well-being. By reevaluating our relationship with money and shifting towards a more interdependent mindset, we can foster connections and build sustainable communities rooted in collaboration and shared values.

Poor Condition of the Building and Temporary Use

Joe Hollis has faced the adversity of poor building conditions, as exemplified by the temporary shop that housed his herbal preparations. While the fire that destroyed his herb shop was a setback, Joe remains deeply committed to his mission. He continues to adapt and utilize alternative means to provide his products to those who rely on them, demonstrating resilience and determination in the face of challenges.

The Impact of the Pandemic in the Community

Like many communities around the world, Joe Hollis’ eco-village has not been immune to the impact of the pandemic. The need for social distancing and travel restrictions has disrupted the flow of visitors and apprentices, affecting the community’s daily dynamics. However, this challenging period has also highlighted the resilience and adaptability of the community, as they find creative ways to remain connected and support one another during these uncertain times.

Looking for Apprentices and Short-Term Workers

Despite the difficulties posed by the pandemic, Joe Hollis continues to welcome apprentices and short-term workers into his community. He recognizes the importance of passing on knowledge and empowering the next generation of sustainable living enthusiasts. By offering opportunities for individuals to gain hands-on experience and immerse themselves in a holistic way of life, Joe ensures that his community and the broader movement for sustainable living will thrive in the future.


Joe Hollis’ life in the hills of North Carolina is a testament to the possibilities of sustainable living and harmonious coexistence with nature. Through his off-the-grid lifestyle, deep understanding of herbal practices, and commitment to communal living, Joe has created an oasis in an increasingly complex world. His passion for promoting Gynostemma Pentaphyllum and herbal remedies, along with his dedication to education and community building, paves the way for a more sustainable and harmonious future. With continued efforts and the dissemination of his wisdom, Joe Hollis invites us all to reevaluate our relationship with nature and strive for balance and harmony in our own lives.

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