The Rooted Life (Book Review)

I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher. Opinions expressed are my own.
  • Title: The Rooted Life: Cultivating health & wholeness through growing your own food
  • Author: Justin Rhodes
  • Publisher: Worthy Books (Hachette)
  • Available Now
  • Book Website
  • Synopsis: Part how-to and part personal narrative, The Rooted Life is chock-full of practical gardening tips. It’s also an invitation to a simpler, countercultural lifestyle.

Scripture Connection

The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it.

Gen. 2:15

…and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you…

1 Thess. 4:11

Spiritual Themes

This is a nonfiction title and was not published as a “Christian” book. However, I do suspect the author is a Christian and he embraces some key Scriptural principles, in his writing:

  • Stewardship is HUGE. Justin discusses the importance of taking care of our bodies, our families and the land.
  • There is an entire chapter devoted to family and gardening, in which Justin talks about spending quality time with spouse and children.
  • Additionally, Justin emphasizes a quiet lifestyle at home, which really echoes the message of 1 Thess. 4:11

Personal Connection

My mom and I refer to our home as MeadowArc. Several years ago, the Lord led us to cultivate our yard as a refuge for animals. My mom has done a ton of research and intense labor and has planted so many distinctive shrubs and trees. The Lord has blessed us with many animal residents in our burgeoning food forest and we’ve also enjoyed the literal fruits of labor.

I haven’t done a lot of research, myself, but Justin Rhodes’ book definitely increased my excitement about what my mom has been doing (and what I’ve been aiding in), at home.

What I Liked

As a writer, Justin is both personable abe engaging. He mentions early on in the book that he wants to be like a kind uncle to the reader: offering advice so that we can learn from his trial and error. I would say that Justin achieves his goal. Although I’m not generally interested in nonfiction, I was impressed with Justin’s style, from the first page. His anecdotes really added a personal flair, while making for interesting reading.

True to the “uncle” promise, Justin’s words are very encouraging. Throughout the book, he urges his readers to just get started with the gardening. He also assured us that things will happen to the crops. Kids will trample the cabbages. Mites will attack the pumpkins— and that is okay. His advice is to plan for those things by planting (25%) more than necessary, and then to let those events inform future endeavors. Based on my own experiences in the garden (we have not-so-fondly nicknamed the gopher Jasper Dale), it is refreshing to read that failure will happen. It’s not the exception, and it doesn’t mean you did something horribly wrong.

Justin consistently refers to his wife as “The Beautiful One.” Isn’t that a lovely way to honor his wife— as set apart from other women and as distinctive from him, in their relationship?

The emphasis on family and simplicity was also so refreshing. It’s such a deviation from the ways of our culture (which Justin is very aware of), but also distinctly biblical.

Overall, the book is extremely practical as a beginner’s guide that covers a lot of topics for those who are interested in homesteading.

Structure

The book consists of ten chapters, which typically begin with an entertaining anecdote. Chapters are seasoned with photographs, including full-page color photos. There is also plenty of practical instruction on a variety of topics, from planting a raised garden bed to raising your own chickens (There are actually three chapters about chickens, so it’s a pretty big focus). Moreover, there is even a nice little collection of recipes using homegrown ingredients.

Chapter topics include “The Winter Harvest Garden” (about growing vegetables for winter), “The Joy of the Harvest” (about harvesting crops) and “Rooted as a Family” (about homesteading as a family).

The end of the book also includes additional book and web resources, as well as appendixes with tables of information (Best Homestead Guides / Garden Spacing Guide).

Content

This is super tiny, but I do recall one joke about Justin “getting lucky” with his wife. (Just in case the little ones pick the book off the coffee table and ask what that means). There may have been a few little jokes like that. Overall, though, this is a family-friendly book.

Recommendation Status

Practical, encouraging and (overall) wholesome, this is a book I’d highly recommend.

Published by Stephanie Agnes-Crockett

Hi, there! My name is Stephanie and I’m a Fresno, CA native. After studying at Biola University, I received my MLIS (Masters in Library Science) from San Jose State University. I live with my mom, poet Kimberly Vargas Agnese, and serve as her unofficial agent. We reside at MeadowArc, a food forest in its infancy. I am called to, and passionate about, purity. In fact, the name Agnes means “pure.” Before I was born, my mom felt led to include the name Agnes in her name, and in the names of her children. My full, hyphenated name includes 26 letters (but not the whole alphabet).

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