Book Review: Home Grown

Posted on Posted in Book Club


Home GrownThis man’s writing is so beautiful. In Home Grown: Adventures in Parenting off the Beaten Path, Unschooling, and Reconnecting with the Natural World, Ben Hewitt speaks a language of warm, quiet vulnerability that somehow bypasses the busy noise of my brain to reach my soul. I don’t read each chapter; I sink into it. This man is so humbly wise, in all the ways that really matter.

The book is all about his farm life, though it’s not a how-to manual. As someone with a no getting out of bed before 10 ideal and not 1 intangible molecule of spiritual, mental, or physical energy that has any desire to live without running water or electricity, nor a need to construct my own walls or eschew technology and progress, I wouldn’t want it. But the heart of his life – the connection to nature and his people – that I hold dear and is at the core of everything I do want for my life.

He paints a fulfilling picture of a life rooted in every modern definition of “unsuccessful,” that inspires you to look at the world around you and see a whole new bounty of possibilities off the main road: turn down a side street, explore an unpaved one, get dirty, and find your bliss.

Like in my own Sage Parenting books and unWorking, which I recently reviewed, integration is a central theme in Home Grown. It’s no surprise to me that the people who are living lives of fulfillment are doing so in connection, as that is the human happiness and healthfulness common denominator. They are all working together, learning together, and playing together. Through this integration the children are passively provided the opportunity to grow in ways so commonly denied to mainstream children shoved in the box of the American childhood.

The adults have a reverence for each other and their children that springs from a life of being planted in the enriching soil of togetherness. They like each other. They respect each other. They enjoy each other. They appreciate each other. Another book about living outside the mainstream in which the spouses love each other and genuinely like their children. It shouldn’t be radical, but it sadly is. It leaves a chicken or egg debate rolling around in my mind: which came first? Do families who really love each other fully choose these lives of integration or does a life of integration lead to loving relationships? I’m sure the answer lies in both.

One aspect of this book that was somewhat unsettling was his boys’ killing of animals. It is mentioned early on and then in a later chapter the author examines the issue more fully, which I appreciated.

So much of his being is dependent on the permanence of his feet on that land. He does address this early in the book yet it seems insurmountably central to him. I am in a place on my journey where I believe that sense of connection can expand with you as you stretch out into the world.

This book is simply the poetry of a life well lived and it leaves me feeling hopeful and spiritually renewed. I’m not going to be adding sunrise chore boots to my lexicon anytime soon, but I will be walking my chosen path nurturing my connection with nature and my people.

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