Teaching Homesteading–in a Nutshell

Reader Contribution by Mary Lou Shaw
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Image by Mabel Amber, still incognito… from Pixabay 

As someone who grows most of the food I eat, I seem to alternate between sometimes feeling isolated from the rest of society and other times feeling that too many people want to come talk, visit and learn. The latter situation does delight me in many ways—I really want people to grow some of their own food and eat healthier. But what took my husband and me dozens of years to learn can’t be told succinctly. That’s especially true when we have our hands and minds busy with the daily work on the farm. 

Because I enjoy writing and teaching, I began putting this knowledge into the local newspaper as short, bi-weekly articles. Once I covered everything from planting seeds to seed savings, composting, preserving food, beekeeping and having heritage-breed animals, I figured I had about covered the basics. 

At a friend’s suggestion, I then sent these essays with photos from our farm to a small Ohio publisher. For the last year and a half these have been nurtured into a book which has just been published. 

I’m happy with the results and I find it perfect for giving the basics of homesteading to others. It has been valuable in explaining to neighbors and family what and why we live as we do. Most important to me, it helps others who want to grow their own food find a place to begin. And as David Kline, the author and naturalist said, it helps “romance young people into farming.” 

The following is about this book:  


Growing Local Food:  Empowering you and your community to grow more of your own food 

“Growing Local Food” by Mary Lou Shaw, touches on many aspects of the word “empowerment” by demonstrating how local foods can increase the spiritual, educational and economic strength of individuals and communities. The beauty of its format and photos nurtures the eye and soul, and a quick glance at chapter titles makes the case that good food includes seeds, soil, food-preservation and animals. 

Full page, colored photos from Shaw’s farm are accompanied by informative descriptions that seduce the reader to seek out local and healthful foods. Readers will feel better equipped to ask questions at Farmers’ Markets and understand opportunities to grow their own food. It also gives all the basic knowledge needed to grow and store food. 

The short chapters, enjoyable in themselves, have introductions designed to “romance” readers into growing food. The author speaks not only to people who have land for gardening, but also to those who only have room for herbs on a window sill or access to community gardens. She gives readers enough information to begin composting or raising chickens, and then includes references for additional knowledge. Finally, she shares some of her favorite recipes with mouth-watering photos of garden produce transformed into delicious meals. 

“Growing Local Food” is an enjoyable read because each chapter can be savored on its own merit. Shaw’s writing style offers gentle encouragement and humor while also giving readers the tools to find and grow their own healthful and delicious food. 

Mary Lou Shaw is a writer and a successful homesteader; she and her husband, Tom, grow almost all the food they eat. She is also a physician who has seen people’s health deteriorate over the past three decades. Her passion for giving others healthier choices and her skills in growing food are both apparent in this book. 

“Growing Local Food” is available for $14.99 from Carlisle Press, (1-800-852-4482). Its wealth of information and beauty make it valuable as a basic reference as well as a treasured gift. 

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