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Home Grown: Adventures in Parenting off the Beaten Path, Unschooling, and Reconnecting with the Natural World

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  1,006 ratings  ·  151 reviews
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, ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published September 9th 2014 by Roost Books
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Average rating 4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,006 ratings  ·  151 reviews

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Aug 19, 2014 rated it liked it
This book was not what I was expecting at all. I thought it was going to be a book with filled with ways to get kids excited about nature and help them to connect with nature and other people. The book is really Hewitt's personal experience of living on a self-sustaining farm with his wife and two children. He talks a lot about his boys and their experiences of learning outside the traditional educational system.

I appreciated Hewitt's writing about his personal experiences with his family and I
Erin Eldermire
Feb 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A thought provoking read which brings into focus a number of issues surrounding education, expectations of kids and parents alike, and life in general. Hewitt neatly highlights the box that our culture has drawn around education and our daily rhythms, then questions why that box is necessary. It has made me rethink what may be best for our kids and ourselves.
Aug 15, 2014 rated it did not like it
Hmmm, how can I put this nicely? The author talks more about himself than anything else in this book. I did not think this was helpful to anyone who wants to homeschool or unschool their child(ren) whatsoever. It is about how he perceives the world, their daily chores, bits about his wife, mostly about himself and how he thinks and what school was like for him, and how his two sons run the woods and complete their chores on their little farm, it doesn't provide anything about homeschooling. It d ...more
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"I am freer than I was told as a child; I am freer than I was led to believe."

This book is the Walden's Pond of parenting--a call for a return to simplicity, connection and presence in our children's lives. It is a reminder that our children are whole, unique beings with insatiable curiously and intense passions. It is a call to trust in our children's instincts, to trust in their intelligence, to trust in the time-honored method of educating through the world around us, the community we belong
Todd Hannig
Jan 22, 2015 rated it liked it
Loved the day-to-day descriptions of life off the grid in Vermont, but felt condescended to and preached to, even though I basically agreed with everything he had to say!
Sep 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
LOVED this. I'm not a parent, but I nevertheless enjoyed this peek into the lives of a family that's bucked just about every societal convention and is doing their best to live in keeping with their own vision of a meaningful life. It raises many good questions about our current childhood educational system--not in an accusatory or negative way, but rather in a mind-opening manner.

I just got done reading one of Ben Hewitt's previous books, 'Saved,' and the writing/narrative style of both books i
Kate W
May 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: homeschooling
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's a meandering kind of book, at times almost magical. Each chapter is followed by a different sort of piece, a meditation I guess? They're like a reflection or experience that crystallizes the rightness of all Hewitt's decisions that got him to the place (literally and figuratively) where he is today.

For a while it seemed to me that the book wasn't really very much about his kids' education. It was at least as much about Ben's own education and ideas and experi
Sep 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Ben Hewitt done am exceptional job is laying his fears out there. We all have fears when it comes to our children but Ben Hewitt voiced this fear in a manner that made me feel comfortable in letting go and allowing my kids be themselves. Ben Hewitt made an excellent point when he said that it's disrespectful to children to have them to put themselves aside to fulfill the wishes of others. In turn, we are teaching our children to not discover themselves. I love his definition of unschooling, "not ...more
Jul 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book came highly recommended by a few friends of mine and I absolutely see why. Ben Hewitt writes from a place of passion and love - reading about his family's journey through unschooling ignited a fire within me. "When you allow people - both children and adults - the freedom to learn what they want, when they want, they come to their learning with fierce passion and energy. They come to it not because they are motivated to make money but because they are driven by something fast more powe ...more
Jul 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
A beautifully written account of one family's unschooling journey in rural Vermont, Home Grown is a kind of love letter to nature and the rhythms of life more than it is a book about unschooling - but that is precisely the point. For Hewitt and his family, life, nature, and education are intimately intertwined and inseparable.
Katy Emanuel
Jun 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
Maybe my expectations for this book were too high. I was quite disappointed in the book. The author starts off saying that in no way is he trying to attack the traditional education system but instead tell his family's story. The book instead doesnt reflect much on the children and the unschooling aspect per se.

He talks of himself quite a bit and often says that it is so much better to unschool the way they do as the average child wouldn't have time for family or down time due to school and TV
Dec 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"In my own life, I am repeatedly struck by the truth that the more thoroughly I liberate myself from prevailing cultural assumptions—around education, wealth, ambition, and success, to name but a few—the more choice I actually have. The more freedom I have. In some regards, this is obvious, because if I’m not devoting my days to the accumulation of money and status, I am liberated to pursue other things. But the freedom I speak of is more than temporal; it is also a freedom of emotion and s spir ...more
Grace Haiman
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: remember
This is not an instruction manual or a how to unschool/homeschool book (there are plenty of those on the market if you're looking) but if you, like me, were just looking to get a sense of how other people look when they are unschooling this is a great insight into their family. I wish I could find more books in this vein of simply how our family unschools rather than a how to book as no one can define how to unschool for your family.
Apr 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Some books speak to your soul, some envelope your soul, some saturate your soul, your entire being. This book drenched my soul, saturating it to the very marrow. This book is so not about unschooling. Unschooling is merely the framework that the tapestry of this written life is woven upon. This book is so much more!
I will definitely be purchasing this book because I know it's one I'll enjoy coming back to visit time and time again.
I'll be analyzing each page and each story for ways they fit wit
Oct 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Hmm. Strange- I've never simultaneously agreed and disagreed to a person's ideas all at the same time before. While i think it is wonderful they've built a beautiful self sustaining homestead, free of the clutter and noise of "modern" life, it is simultaneously not wonderful that the author seems to be raising entitled kids, who do not listen, and will end up with the same condescending "our life is The right life" tone their father has in the book. It was a well-written, but quite annoying book ...more
May 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
The author seems really authentic and in love with his lifestyle. This means a lot to me, as a reader. He takes a lot from "Free to Learn", which is pretty much the bible on this topic, but he does a good job putting some faces on principles.

He is a little preachy and idealizes his own lifestyle too much, though, but it's not so bad. And the book is more romantic on ideals than pragmatic. It serves more as an inspiration than practical advice.
Alisha Bennett (Sheppherd)
Aug 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This little gem was received as a Goodreads Giveaway. Hewitt's almost prose-like storytelling layers wisdom, philosophy and a refreshing approach to family life. Highly enjoyable as a story but also worth re-reading; there is a depth here. Obviously written by a man who makes a conscious effort to care about the kinds of souls he is helping to shape in his children.
Dec 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
As a parent with doubts about the value of conventional schooling, I think this book offered an interesting perspective about unschooling. I often question what my children are learning in school and what it actually is supposed to be preparing them for.
What I enjoyed most about this book was the author's reminder of the little things in life that make life worth living.
Jan 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: readin15
Acknowledging that I'm surely guilty of romanticizing the Hewitt's way of life, I loved this book. We are wrestling with ways to incorporate their "parenting off the beaten path" into our family - not just for the kids' sake, but for ours too.
Crystal W
Jul 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Although I believe his intentions were good in writing this book, I feel he focuses a little too much on his own memoir in regards to building his home and his personal experiences and feelings, versus his sons' personal days, upbringing and unschooling. Maybe the wife should have given some input?
Mar 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
If you have any interest in living a sustainable lifestyle, homeschooling or unschooling your children and/or finding peace in the natural world I highly recommend this book. It is a beautiful first hand account of one family's journey down the road less traveled!
It was ok. Hewitt is a good writer, and it is a nice way to spend your winter evenings, transporting yourself to a farm in rural Vermont, and reflecting on his life and rambling thoughts. Maybe even dreaming or wishing that your life could be like that. But it was just not what I was looking for. My fault, for judging a book by it's cover/title... I was expecting it to be more prescriptive- giving ideas of how to incorporate the natural world and free play into your child's learning. He does thi ...more
Oct 22, 2019 rated it liked it
This was an enjoyable read. Hewitt write lyrically about life on his Vermont farm, and you're almost jealous until you realize he lives in a shack and performs hard labor 7 days a week around the year without a 401k bringing the end in sight. I mean, as a desk jockey, I adore the idea of hard labor. Just not at 5am on a winter morning.

It's really hard to review this book without veering close to a critique of his parenting. After all, it's a book about his parenting. On the whole, I agree with
Feb 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a beautifully written account of a farming family who is unschooling. I really appreciate how thoughtfully and intimately the author shares the decisions he and his wife have made for their family. There are many things we have in common and I feel sure that if we lived in the same area our paths would have crossed. I would love to sit with them over a cup of coffee and discuss our life choices. :)

I could relate so much to this passage ... “... I have seen how things I could never have
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
I don't read many parenting or parenting themed books, even with three kids of my own, but this one peaked my interest, a different perspective among the clattering traffic, the frantic school rush every morning and the endless pile of homework. Reading this book was like taking a small step back, a deep breath, a reflection. Ben Hewitt writes with honesty and simple beauty, never pushy in with rhetoric, just observations of how his own parenting choices have affected his life and that of his wi ...more
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
Ben Hewitt is a good writer and I love reading about family farms. However, that's not what I thought this book was going to be about. There are a handful of pages which he delves into unschooling; the reasoning behind it, how his family does it and the results. And I really enjoyed those passages. Mostly the book is full of essay-esqu descriptions of his own revelations and descriptions of working on his farm which didn't seem to have much to do with unschooling to me. I enjoyed the book, but i ...more
Mar 18, 2018 rated it liked it
I have mixed feelings about this book. I’ve always found that Ben (been reading his blogs and books for a while) has such an amazing way with words and how he paints a beautiful picture with them. But halfway trough this book, I found myself having to walk away. Mostly because it was getting a tad bit redundant, but also because I wasn’t sure how I felt about the experiences he shared. As a mostly child led homeschooling parent, I see a lot of good in his words and his values. But as with his ot ...more
Oct 29, 2018 rated it liked it
The thing I liked best about this book is that it is a description of a life lived differently from how most live these days, but it is not at all prescriptive. It is filled with celebration and humility, recognizing that any upbringing is uncertain in its end result. Hewitt admits frustration when his unschooled sons don't cooperate easily, but recognizes that this discerning questioning and ability to fill their own time is something they have cultivated. While this was the very question I was ...more
Melinda Arnold
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Like other readers, I didn’t realize this was more of a memoir then a book about unschooling. That being said, the writing was beautiful and I loved the ideas and stories Ben shares throughout the book. Homesteading has always been an intriguing idea to me. I love the idea of going back to the land and learning from it. The more seasoned a homeschooler I become, the more unschooling and the way of life that comes with it makes sense to me. I enjoyed this read immensely and would definitely recom ...more
Dec 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting idea of how one family does unschooling. I find unschooling a fascinating concept, though after reading this book, TBH, I am not swayed. If anything, I'd like to homeschool (but then that means I can't have my career as it is). An interesting look at how Ben and his wife have their two boys "unschool" themselves. I think their lifestyle - living on a farm in VT in a neat rural area where people work together in a community, lots of forest, etc - make it plausible. Do I want this? Pr ...more
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Ben Hewitt writes and farms in Northern Vermont. His work has appeared in numerous national periodicals, including the New York Times Magazine, Wired, Gourmet, Discover, Skiing, Eating Well, Powder, Men's Journal, National Geographic Adventure, Outside, Bicycling, and many others. He lives with his wife and two sons in a self-built home that is powered by a windmill and solar photovoltaic panels. ...more

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