A permaculture expert and popular YouTube Homesteader shares the skills and the delights of becoming a part of your own food story in this inspiring, accessible, and beautiful invitation to a more abundant, healthy, and connected life.
Have you ever wanted to experiment with growing your own food but didn’t think you had the space, the time, or the knowledge? Justin Rhodes thought the same thing—until after years battling systemic illness and struggling to provide the kind of wholesome food he wanted for his family, he bought a seed packet at the grocery store and was hooked! Justin discovered the miraculous potential and empowerment of working with nature to grow food for his family, and since that discovery, he has shared his self-taught skills with hundreds of thousands of growers via his popular YouTube channel and website. Whether you're looking for greater food security, better health, tastier food, to save or earn money, connect with your food source, this book is for you. If you're looking for a different kind of life—a life focused on health and wellness—take a look down the road less traveled.
Looking for every opportunity to pass his hard-earned knowledge onto others, Justin Rhodes created this inspiring and practical invitation to growing your own food and experiencing a more connected, sustainable lifestyle, no matter where you live or how much space you have. Filled with beautiful and inspiring photographs from the Rhodes’ homestead and chock full of resources, including gardening plans, everything you need to know about raising chickens, tips for how to get your kids involved, and even recipes for how to serve up your home-grown goodness, The Rooted Life provides you with the inspiration, the encouragement, and the practical wisdom that you need to begin the journey to a more rooted life.
Many of you will be familiar with Justin Rhodes from his videos on Youtube, along with the “Permaculture Chickens”, “Permaculture Pigs”, and “The Great American Farm Tour” documentaries. This is the first time Justin has shared his homestead wisdom in book form, and it is even better than the videos.
Chapter 1 is called “If I Can Homestead, You Can Too” is encouraging to read if you’re curious about homesteading but not sure if you can do it or not.
The Rhodes family got started in homesteading by looking at the health aspects of eating organic foods, and finding that it’s much cheaper to produce these foods on a homestead than buying them in the store. Justin looks at the importance of food security, especially in the light of the recent supply disruptions and food shortages, which is another important reason to grow your own food.
Many other excellent reasons are provided for getting into homesteading, hopefully enough to convince anyone reading it!
This first chapter also looks at four major obstacles to overcome, and how to overcome them, while being honest about their successes and failures.
Chapter 2 “Starting Smart” has all you need to get started and on track with planning a homestead that works for you. Justin’s experience with permaculture really helps with this, but it’s not going to scare off anyone that isn’t into permaculture. Helpful and thorough instructions to help get started in a way that can work in different life circumstances.
Included in this chapter are time estimates needed to grow different percentages of food - you might be surprised at how little time it can take to grow a huge amount of food with Justin’s methods.
Helpful instructions are included for making a plan, from figuring out the top food goals, the parameters you’re working with, to prioritising, and researching. Even if you’ve been homesteading for many years, it’s still helpful to read this chapter, as it helps with planning future changes and improving the homestead.
Chapter 3 “Gardening Basics” has sections on several types of gardens, from no-excuses container gardens, through to raised beds, small no-dig gardens, and larger crop gardens. Easy step by step instructions and clear lists of what you’ll need are included, along with lists of plants that will thrive in each garden setting. There’s a style of garden in here for everyone, from gardens that take up very little space of time, through to gardens that will grow 75% of your own vegetables. Growing your own plant starts is also covered, along with helpful information on watering and pest control.
Chapter 4 “The Winter Harvest Garden” looks at the best plants to grow for winter, and how to choose the right planting dates for them to be ready before winter - this is something that I have always had trouble with, so it’s been really helpful to read about Justin’s system and learn how to figure this out for my climate.
For much of the USA, some protection is needed from snow and frost for many winter harvest plants, and there’s full instructions here for building low tunnels, which are the easiest way to achieve this. Full instructions are also given for everything else you’d want to know about a winter harvest garden.
Chapter 5 is all about raising chickens for eggs. It answers every question someone would ask when wanting to know about raising hens, from what structures they need, which breeds are best, how much work is required, how to stop them from stinking, how much to feed them, how many to raise to get enough eggs for your family, step by step instructions on how to raise them from day old chicks, and more. Justin gives detailed instructions for keeping chickens in ways that benefit the whole homestead, including a compost corner, chicken tractors, and raising them on pasture.
This chapter is another example of how thorough this book is - Justin has give a timeline of what to do and what to expect over the whole life cycle of raising laying hens, from raising them from chicks, through to raising replacements and the final day of the old flock. You can look at this timeline and know exactly what you’re meant to be doing and what to expect from the chickens at any given time, whether it’s moving chicks out of the brooder, when to ration their feed, when to expect your first eggs, and so on.
Chapter 6 is about raising chickens for meat. Following Justin’s methods you can raise huge amounts of organic meat in just 60 days. He gives a full list of exactly everything you need to do this, so you can confidently get started without any last minute panic and rushes to the feed store. A timeline is also provided, to help you plan ahead.
Chapter 7 is about gardening with chickens and permaculture. An excellent way to introduce anyone to permaculture. It helps anyone to plan for a better homestead without having to do heaps of reading. This chapter looks at the different ways that chickens can help the garden before, during, and after the growing season. A step be step guide to creating an “Instant Chicken Garden” is included that shows just how easy and beneficial it can be to combine chickens with a garden.
Chapter 8 “The Joy of the Harvest” talks about approaches to harvesting that can work for different lifestyles and gardens, and how to harvest specific crops. Harvesting and handling eggs is also covered, along with how to butcher meat chickens. There’s a section on how to cure winter squash, tubers, onions and garlic, and helpful tips for how to prepare various foods for freezing as a preservation method. Some tasty recipes are included in this chapter too.
Chapter 9 is all about homesteading as a family and has many helpful ideas for getting children involved, working well with your spouse, and getting a spouse on board if they’re not interested in homesteading.
Chapter 10 “Just Plant!” is encouraging words to inspire people to get started, it also gives Justin’s ideas about the three keys to success with this lifestyle.
The book is completed with some helpful charts at the back, including the “best homestead elements” chart which shows how much time different elements take to set up, maintain, and harvest, how much space is needed, along with the cost and yield. A garden spacing guide for the different garden designs shown in the book is also included, a great quick reference sheet to have for planning and planting out a garden.
I appreciated how Justin included actual figures for how much time things take, and has given thorough instructions for everything that will help both the beginner and the experienced homesteader alike.
I enjoyed the honesty, humour, and writing style of this book. It is so encouraging and I hope it gets read by many people.
I've watched his vlog channel for a good while now--gaps in watching and then when I check in they have grown their operation hugely. The kids seem like independent thinkers who have a pretty deep understanding of what they're doing and why, although they have moments where they seem to feel like their chores are chores, lol. It's good to see someone giving their kids a real education and letting them learn to do things, building lifelong skills. Their garden beds are amazing also. Both he and his wife have overcome some major health battles too. Good to see that he's writing and it's probably well worth the read.
“Birds born in a cage think flying is an illness.” ― Alejandro Jodorowsky
I can’t wait to get my hands on this book. It sounds like exactly what I need. Encouragement and pointing in the right direction. With the hubby away at a job I do most of it myself and get overwhelmed. I’m excited to see if this will help my ADD homesteading ways lol. I never know what to start when and how to work with our rainy season. Yay! I’m excited to dive in. Thanks Justin for sharing your hard work with us.
I would be very happy to win Justin's book, I would read Chapter 2 Starting Small, and Chapter 4 Winter Gardening first. I tend to try too many vegetables at once and end up with more than I can take care of, and I've never tried to grow anything during the winter. This could be a game changer for me.
Similar to Charlotte, I would be very happy to win Justin's book and leap into reading Chapter 2 Starting Small, followed by Chapter 8 on what to do with the harvest. I'm hoping it's similar to Justin's Youtube videos in approach, inspiration, and detail.
I was thrilled to read that you've written this book (I followed along from your emails and sometimes vlogs.) I look forward to getting my own copy in time. In 7 weeks my husband and I are moving from the western suburbs of Chicago to the Blue Ridge mountains in Independence, VA! We bought an old farmhouse (built in 1900) that needs complete renovation from head to toe. But we also have 2 acres of land in the midst of a cow farm. The house was the original farmhouse for the farm. I've dreamed for a few decades about having some land and being able to homestead. Now, as we're looking towards retirement (I'm 62 and my husband is 69,) it's happening!!!
So I'm busy packing when I'm not working full time and getting together with friends to say goodbye. (That was one thing I forgot to factor in time-wise - time to say goodbye.) But when I get your book, I think I'll read chapters 6, 7 and 8 first to help me decide how to get started with chickens for meat and eggs, but probably not both at the same time. I have to allow for that learning curve.
We're leaving behind jobs here i.e. income, and will be living off savings and my husband's social security until we're established and earning again. So my focus is on growing as much of our food as we can while my husband is tearing the house apart to rebuild it.
The property is essentially a blank slate for me to work with and includes about 1/2 acre of marshy land. No shrubs to speak of, just two big old black walnut trees behind the house. The grass is pretty compacted as far as I could tell and I'm thinking those chickens will be put to work renewing the soil. Obviously I will be planting lots of plants.
But my big worry is the deer. Do you have a problem with deer and, if so, how do you handle it? I haven't had the time over the years to watch all your videos but I can't remember hearing you talk about it. It's one of the things I think over most as I'm lying in bed at night thinking of our future - how to keep them out of my garden without erecting an 8ft fence that doesn't seem to work. I was thinking of using the old fencing material left on our property (the farmer put up new fences for the new property line) to fence off the initial veggie garden and then have trellises 4ft inside that fence all around to make it harder for the deer to jump over. So essentially using my plant structures to keep them out. Do you think that will work?
I have so many questions but not sure what's even relevant at this point. I need to get down there and observe the land for the rest of the year and continue reading, watching and learning everything I can about homesteading and permaculture etc. It's an exciting journey and I'm so grateful for the example you and Rebekah are.
May "The Rooted Life" climb to the top of the bestseller list and stay there, inviting and enticing many to join in the revolution!
So glad too see that your book is doing so well. I have enjoyed over the years watching as your family shares their journey into living a better life. Thank you for being so giving in your knowledge and skills.
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