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Home Grown: Adventures in Parenting off the Beaten Path, Unschooling, and Reconnecting with the Natural World (Paperback)
When Ben Hewitt and his wife bought a sprawling acreage of field and forest in northern Vermont, the landscape easily allowed them to envision the self-sustaining family farm they were eager to start. But over the years, the land became so much more than a building site; it became the birthplace of their two sons, the main source of family income and food, and ultimately, both classroom and home for their children.
Having opted out of formal education, Hewitt's sons learn through self-directed play, exploration, and experimentation on their farm, in the woods, and (reluctantly) indoors. This approach has allowed the boys to develop confidence, resourcefulness, and creativity. They learn, they play, they read, they test boundaries, they challenge themselves, they fail, they recover. And these freedoms allow their innate personalities to flourish, further fueling growth and exploration.
Living in tune with the natural world teaches us to reclaim our passion, curiosity, and connectivity. Hewitt shows us how small, mindful decisions about day-to-day life can lead to greater awareness of the world in your backyard and beyond. We are inspired to ask: What is the true meaning of "home" when the place a family lives is school, school system, and curriculum? When the parent is also the teacher, how do parenting decisions affect a child's learning? (And exactly how much trouble can a couple of curious boys gallivanting in the wild woods all day get into?) Home Grown reminds us that learning at any age is a lifelong process, and the best "education" is never confined to a classroom. These essays on nature, parenting, and education show us that big change can come from making small changes in how you live on the land, while building a life you love.
About the Author
BEN HEWITT is the author of Saved, The Town That Food Saved, Making Supper Safe, and articles for magazines such as Bicycling, Discover, Gourmet, Men's Journal, National Geographic Adventure, Outside, the New York Times Magazine, Yankee, Taproot, and many others. He and his family live in a self-built, solar-powered house in Cabot, Vermont, and operate a forty-acre livestock, vegetable, and berry farm.
"In this fine and eloquent and moving book, Ben Hewitt takes a principled stand for the unconventional childhood, for the intellectual and emotional and soulful nurture of nature."—Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle
“Ben Hewitt walks you along the lanes of his small family farm right into the heart of parenting. He does not judge the new normal of life’s fever-pitch pace but fills you with the courage to follow your hopes, which may well transform your family.”—Kim John Payne, MEd, author of Simplicity Parenting, Beyond Winning, and The Soul of Discipline
“This fine book may make you wish you’d grown up in a very different way.”—Bill McKibben, author of Wandering Home
“What kind of parent doesn't send his kids to school? The kind that thinks maybe kids learn best when ‘learning cannot be helped’—when kids are so excited about the world that they master the skills they need to explore it, the same way they mastered crawling, walking and speaking.” —Lenore Skenazy, author of the book and blog, Free-Range Kids
“Hewitt provides a beautifully written handbook for those of you considering unschooling. And if you're already unschooling, buy ten copies to hand out to friends and family who ask you how it works.”—Penelope Trunk, blogger, entrepreneur, and home-schooling advocate
“This is a beautifully written, honest, introspective, soul-revealing, and soul-stirring account of one family’s choice to live close to nature and to allow their children to learn naturally, without school, in a self-directed manner. The book’s biggest message, I think, is that we do have choices; we can chart our own lives, we don't have to follow the crowd if we don’t want to.”—Peter Gray, Research Professor at Boston College and author of Free to Learn
"This book fills me with both sadness and joy. My sadness is for the millions of children locked in schools, looking out the windows as the precious days of childhood pass them by. My joy comes from knowing this eloquent book will inspire many to choose a different path.”—Charles Eisenstein, author of Sacred Economics and The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible
"Ben Hewitt’s thoughtful and elegant prose cuts through the noise of modern life to reveal the incredible public value and personal satisfaction of being rooted in one’s environment, nurturing meaningful relationships among family and friends, and learning with and from children. You don’t have to live in a cabin in Vermont like the Hewitts to benefit from the book; you can enjoy their story and embrace their spirit to take control of your life and learning to achieve your own unique ambitions.”—Patrick Farenga, publisher of The Legacy of John Holt
"An inspiring read that reminds us the world can offer more to our children than classrooms and cubicles; and they, in turn, can contribute more than test scores and paychecks."—Shannon Hayes, author of Radical Homemaking
"Everyone with a relationship to children should read this book... for the sake of tomorrow's generation.” —Joel Salatin, farmer, Polyface Farm, and author of Folks, This Ain’t Normal