Academy Supplies Resource Page - Melissa K. Norris

Academy Supplies Resource Page

This will be a growing resource as we cover more and more lessons in the Pioneering Today Academy.

Note: some of the below links are affiliate links, however, they’re products I personally use or believe will be of help to you and cost you absolutely no more. I make a small commission on some of the products if you purchase through the below link. 

You can quickly jump to a section by clicking on the subjects listed below!

Gardening/Seed Starting
Fruit Management & Pruning Tools
Organic Treatment Options for Insects/Disease
Mason Bees 
Livestock and Fencing
Seed Saving
Canning Supplies and Resources
Natural Medicine and Herbs
Grinding Flour
Bread Baking
Homemade Pasta
Gluten Free
Soap Making
Sprouting supplies

You  may notice I don’t use peat pots. I’ve found they’re similar to egg cartons, which dry out quicker, so if you’re going to spend money on a container, I’d purchase the plastic pots you can re-use year after year. This is a personal preference and I encourage you to see what works best for you.

Seed Starting & Containers

20 pack of 1 gallon pots I purchased these two years ago and they’ve worked well with repeated uses. I put my tomatoes and peppers in these when they reach about 2 to 3 weeks of age.

20 pack of 4 inch pots These are great for smaller starts that you’ll be putting out sooner, such as cabbage, broccoli, or even herbs and flowers.

Soil blocker This is on my wish list and I wish I’d known they existed years ago.

Newspaper Pot Maker Just use newspaper and this roller to make all your little seed starting pots

Nursery Plant Markers pack of 100

Seedling Heat Mat If you’re home is cold, you might consider using one of these for your warm-weather starts. I’ve not used it, but it comes highly rated and recommended.

Frost Protection Plant Fabric For extending your growing season and protecting plants from both frost and insects.

Large Grow Bags These fabric grow bags come in multiple sizes and are an excellent way to grow vegetables.

Container Potting Soil (Costco has the best deal I’ve found in the springtime) but I’ve also ordered this brand in the past

Greenstalk Vertical Stacking Container – here’s the vertical stacking and rolling system I have for my strawberries. The stackable vertical container garden tower is from my affiliate GreenStalk use this coupon code for $10 off your order: ​​ PIONEERING


Grow Light Options

Jump Start Growlight This is the grow light I’ve had for over three years. It folds up compactly and I store it under our bed. Still using the original light bulb as well.

Grow light on a clamp This is a smaller grow light for small batches of seeds.

Fruit Management & Pruning Tools

Folding Saw – Heavy Duty Pruning Handsaw for larger branches

Steel Pruning Shears for smaller branches and bushes

Long-handled loppers for medium branches or spots that are harder to get into

Maggot barrier bags


Compost Thermometer This thermometer stays in my compost pretty much year round so I can easily monitor the temperature and guage when it needs to be turned or fed.

Composting Tumbler


Fox Farm Tiger Bloom Fertilizer for Buds and Blooms 2-8-4 Use COUPON CODE: PIONEERING at checkout for 10% off.

Alaska 100099247 32 Oz Fish Fertilizer Concentrate 5-1-1

Soil Amendment Options

Element Sulfur 20 pound bag to help lower the PH level

Blood Meal– 17 pound bag to help increase nitrogen level in the soil


Soaker Hose Kit

Organic Options for Insect/Disease Control 

Neem oil – cold pressed 100% neem oil (for disease and insects)

Diatomaceous Earth Food grade

Mason Bee Supplies 

Mason Bee House  This is an option if you just want to start with the house.

Mason Bee Kit This comes with everything but the bees to get started.

There are many options for getting the live Mason bees (shipped in their larvae stage) most local plant nurseries or farm and garden stores will carry them. Or you can have them shipped to your house. Look for a company that’s in your region or will let you pick what region you’re in for the right bee.

I’ve always gotten ours from a local store, but this is an online option (note, this is the brand our local nursery stocks and what I currently have!)

Soil Testing Supplies

Using a lab will give you the most accurate results. Check with your local county agricultural extension office to see if they provide this service, most do (mine being one of the few states that don’t). This is the lab I use as my local county office doesn’t test soil, the basic test is only $12 and you can do it all by mail!

For an at home test, this Luster Leaf Rapitest Soil Kit is rated as a best seller.

After looking at the reviews on probe soil test kits, I didn’t find one that I could recommend to you as reliable.

Companion Planting Books

Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening by Louise Riotte

Tomato Success Resources

Garden Lime for adding calcium to the soil and bringing acidic soil PH level up

Heavy Duty Wire Cage supports for tomatoes, I have used both the smaller and larger ones for multiple years. My tomatoes grow so well, no matter which size I use, by the time they’re full grown and producing tomatoes, I still use some twine and rope to finish off their support.

Soaker Hoses– keep water off the leaves and help cut back on blight or fungus.

Livestock and Fencing Products

The electric fencer we use for our pigs. Our old one shorted out while we were out of town and fortunately, our neighbors had one to loan us until we could get this one (and they put our pigs up for us, they’re pretty awesome).

Water Stock Tank Heater this is the exact model we have for our cattle and have used it for years without a problem. This model works best in a metal tub, not a plastic one.

This model has a guard on it if you have a plastic water tank

This is a heated water bowl many people will use for smaller livestock like chickens.

All-in-One Home Butchering Kit

This kit has the knife, cone, and a plucking machine you can set up with a home drill. Click here–> all in one home butchering kit

Seed Saving Resources and Gardening Books

The New Vegetable Growers Handbook by Frank Tozer. Excellent resource on growing vegetables, when to plant, how much, including seed saving (though not as heavy on seed saving as Seed to Seed). This is my go to reference for growing vegetables and troubleshooting problems.

Seed to Seed: Seed Saving by Suzanne Ashworth- This is the Bible for Seed Savers, it breaks it down on when to plant by region in the United States and focuses solely on seed saving for each plant. This is the book I use when I’m seed saving something new or encounter a problem.


Row Cover Fabric and Insect Barrier Cloth This cloth can be used as a barrier for both insects (and cross-pollinating insects and cabbage moths, so it works for pest control as well). You can also cut this up and make your own bags for pollination cages or bags.

Seed Saving Bags and Packets Different sized bags for blossoms, corn shoot and tassels, sorghum, and seed packets for seed saving and cross-pollinating barriers.

Canning Resources

I don’t have this version, but I hear from many many experienced canners that this is the gold standard and best canning book to start with. Make sure you’re using a new edition though like this one –> Ball Blue Book of Canning

My go to canning book is the Ball Complete Book of Canning it has lots of standard recipes, canning instructions and safety tips, pressure canning, and my favorite part is the side bar notes of wisdom included by many of the recipes. It’s heavier on the water bath recipes (lots of sauces, jams, jellies, salsas, and even a chocolate one) but it does include some pressure canning as well.


Water bath

For a water bath canner that won’t rust or chip, consider a stainless steel water bath canner like this one.

Or the granite water bath canner you’ve most likely seen: waterbath canner with a removable rack.

A 5 piece canning kit,  with jar remover, magnetic lid lifter, funnel, kitchen tongs and jar wrench.

Bulk canning lids in sleeves  click here for bulk canning lids

Steam Canner

This is the steam canner I have with the temperature indicator on the lid so you know when to start your processing time Roots and Branches Steam Canner

Frugal pressure canners:

This Presto pressure canner  is under a $100 and will get you pressure canning all of your non-acid foods safely. It does use a rubber gasket and can also be used for water bath canning. This is very similar to the pressure canner I’ve used for over a decade.

Investment pressure canners:

This is an All American Pressure canner. It has a metal on metal seal so you don’t have to replace rubber gaskets. After operating both (best Christmas gift ever!) I do prefer and use exclusively the All American pressure canner. I feel it gets to pressure faster and holds it easier without adjusting temps through the processing times.

Need help choosing which canner is best for you and your family? Here’s 5 Tips to Choose the Best Pressure Canner for You

Canner Replacement Parts

Presto replacement gasket and overpressure relief plug

All American Canner replacement/backup overpressure relief plug

Outdoor Canning Stove

Two burner standing outdoor Camp Chef Stove

Jam and Jelly Making Supplies


The only store bought pectin I use is Pomona’s Pectin as it’s a natural citrus pectin and doesn’t have questionable ingredients added to it.

For less than a $7 it’s one of my most regular used kitchen tools, including checking for the setting temp in my jam and jelly recipes–> Glass Candy Thermometer

It’s important to note that if you’re at high altitude, 1,000 feet above sea level, then you need to subtract 2° for every 1,000 feet above sea level.

ClearJel-the only approved thickener for canning and making the *best pie fillings! This is the kind for canning, make sure you don’t use or get Instant, the cook type is needed for canning recipes.

Bulk Cinnamon Sticks  These are the cinnamon sticks I used in the peaches.

Stainless Steel Juicer This is one of the easiest ways to make juice for both canning juice, syrup and jelly.

Sauce Making Supplies

Sieve for making tomato sauce and juice for jellies and syrups.

Food mill for making sauces and juices.

Tattler Reusable Canning Lids

Reusable Tattler Lids I recommend purchasing one set and using them for awhile before investing in enough to do all of your canning.

New E-Z seal Tattler Lids

Dehydrating Resources

Nesco Square Dehydrator This is the dehydrator I have and a great entry point as far as cost goes. You can purchase additional trays for it here.

These are the silicone mats I use for fruit leather, sticky foods, and or small items.

Excalibur Dehydrators, considered the dehydrator by many.

Some of my favorite jars to store dehydrated food in are Fido jars. 

Vacuum Sealer- use for dehydrated foods (I use our for freezing foods too). This is the exact model we use.

The Veggie Spiralizer– I’ve had this for over 3 years and adore it for making vegetable noodles or curly fries.

Resources for Creating a Natural Medicine Cabinet and Growing Herbs

Herbal Antivirals by Stephen Harrod Buhner (the BEST herb book I’ve read so far with clinical data and doses)

Herbal Antibiotics Stephen Harrod Buhner

This is one of my favorite books because even though it says for beginners, it takes you in-depth not just on the uses of the herb, but with growing tips too. Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginners Guide: 33 Healing Herbs to Know, Grow, and Use

This book I just ordered, I don’t even have it yet, but I’ve heard wonderful things about it. Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients into Foods and Remedies That Heal

Foraging and Wild Edibles Reference books by YOUR region!

8 ounce Tincture Bottles

Large stainless steel tea strainer

Bulk Spices and Herbs

Starwest Botanicals (they have a good selection of dried herbs)

Frontier Herbs

Farmhouse Teas Herbal Challenge Kits

Herbal Tinctures Elk Mountain Herbs

Pacific Botanicals (herbs sold by the pound)

Zack Woods Herb Farm (selection of high-quality herbs)

1st Chinese Herbs (bulk selection of Chinese herbs)











Resources for Grinding Flour

Best manual flour mill for ease of use and output plus upping your preparedness level–> Wondermill Deluxe Hand Grain Mill

Best back up manual flour mill when using an electric mill as a primary–> Victorio Hand Operated Mill

Update: my favorite electric grain mill (this is my main mill and I received mine for free from Mockmill)

I was so impressed when I got the Mockmill and here’s why:

  • I love that everything is all together, that it’s just one thing. (It only takes up 6 x 6 inches on the counter top!)
  • I don’t have to hook a whole bunch of things together.
  • The ability to adjust the grind that baby has, I could not believe how fine I could get it. And there’s so much play that I can just dial it in for the exact consistency that I want, from super pastry fine to course.
  • It’s a lot quieter than the other mills that I have used.

For a limited time, you can order the Mockmill and get FREE shipping, plus some special bonus offers. You get two guides from Mockmill, the first is the Farm Directly and Milling Guide that contains easy links to the websites and listings of small family farmers who will gratefully ship their grains direct to your door.

Grains and Wheat Berries

Spelt berries: smaller starter package and larger bulk size 25 pound bag 

Einkorn berries: Because you’re a fabulous member of Pioneering Today Academy, our sponsor and affiliate has provided a coupon code:  ptamembers
Details: no expiration date. Starts now. free shipping on 15lb and 22.5lb packages. Click here to order

Hard White Wheat: smaller starter package and 5 pound bag

Soft White Wheat: smaller starter package and 25 pound bag

Places to Check for Bulk Food Purchases of Grains and Wheat Berries
Azure Standard
Local Co-op
Local Farmers
Mormon Church Store House (no, you don’t have to be a member, because I’m not and never have been, and I double checked, it’s open to the public but you do have to call for hours, though some folks say you need to go in with a member, here’s a map where you can find a location near you if you’re interested)

My favorite loaf pan of all time: Lodge Cast Iron Loaf Pan

Gluten Free Resources

Better Batter Gluten Free Flour Mix

Chia Seeds

Golden Flax Seed

Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Oats

Electric Coffee Grinder for seeds and grains

Manual Coffee Grinder for seeds and grains

Soap Making Resources

Digital Laser Infrared Thermometer– I use this for soap making, lotion, and even candy making. This is the exact one I have and use.

This is the food scale I have and use for everything in the kitchen from soap making, candle making, and of course, actual cooking. It’s under $15 and measures in ounces, grams and pounds. is where we order lye and oils from for soap making.

My Melt and Pour Soap Base without parabens or proplyene glycol, this is the goats milk, which is believed to have added skin benefits!

My favorite company for essential oils, with free shipping–> Plant Therapy no minimums or requirements and safety is their top priority!

Fun 100% Hand Made Silicone molds for soap, lotion bars, and baked goods!

Fermenting Supplies and Resources

The Farm Girl’s Guide to Preserving the Harvest: How to Can, Freeze, Dehydrate, and Ferment Your Garden’s Goodness Ann’s Book, which includes fermenting

Kraut Pounder

Airlock Systems

4 pack of Kraut Kaps, includes four sets of the ring, plastic lid and airlock system

This is the Perfect Pickler kit I originally purchased when I started, including Celtic sea salt and recipe booklet.

Mason Jar Silicone Fermenting Lids I’ve used these and had pretty good success, I tend to use them more on things like sauerkraut.

Best Salts for Fermenting

Redmond Real Salt– this is what we use as table salt and for fermenting

Celtic Sea Salt– this is the light grey salt that came with my Perfect Pickler Kit

Fermenting Weights

Glass pickling weights set of 4

Cups that hold the brine for a weight

Kraut Source Lid/Weight Combo Anne likes

Kimchi Ingredients

Red Chili Pepper Flakes Powder Gochugaru


Bread Baking Supplies

Organic cotton bag from Cultures from Health (this is the one I have)

However, I found these excellent deal for 6 bags (3 different sizes) on Amazon.

Cast Iron Loaf Pan because these are the best loaf pans evah!

Instant Read Digital Thermometer for internal bread temperature taking!

Banneton (proofing basket) for round artisan loaves

Bread Lame (scoring tool) with leather cover

Lodge Cast Iron Cooker for Sourdough Loaves (and any other cooking/baking)

Tartine Sourdough Bread Book by Chad Robertson

Homemade Pasta Supplies

Manual pasta cutter roller  this is a stainless steel pasta roller, perfect for cutting out evenly spaced noodles

Wooden dough roller allows for even pressure when hand rolling out pasta, pastry or pizza dough

Wooden Pasta Drying Rack 

Stainless Steel Pasta Machine (this is the one I have and love after sending another one back) it’s from Italy and has a cutter for traditional lasagne, fettuccine, tagliolini


Cast Iron Dutch Oven & Outdoor Cooking Supplies

Fire Chimney Starter

Dutch Oven Lid Lifter

Spider Dutch Oven

Sprouting Supplies

Sprouting Lids pack of 2 BPA free