Paul Heiney’s book, Home Farm – How to grow your own food, is a book I very much enjoyed.
I bought this book for myself from an old bookshop in Hobart. I used to love browsing the shelves at lunch time and I often tried to purchase all the new books when they arrived. Home Farm really caught my eye when I first found it. It is filled with amazing art and great photos. It is not a very thick book, yet the format is easy to read and filled me with motivation for my own projects (which is something I sometimes find can easily fade). It is published by DK books… a company that I have often found to provide highly entertaining texts.
The book is laid out in the typical format which you would expect if you have spent any time reading gardening/homesteading books. As usual, you are introduced to the concept of Home Farming, how to decide on land, and it lays out what you can do with certain sizes of land (very similar to John Seymour’s Self Sufficiency book). The sections are filled with large, motivating art and photos which help the reader imaging themselves on that land.
The book then turns to the more practical topic of homesteading (farm) skills. Whilst the topics could never be considered to be deep, each turn of the page brings the reader to a new subject with a brief (and calling it brief would be an exaggeration… the knowledge covered in these sections is minuscule) look at how that skill is used and shows images for emphasis. In the usual, DK publishing format, every two pages covers the topic and shows a very basic example. It isn’t going to give you an education, yet it will show you the very basics. The image further down showing mead making is a great example of this.
The usual subjects of animals and gardening are explained, with around 20 pages on each topic. This is not a negative in my view, as the book only briefly covers these topics… and that is how it should be. If you want more information I would suggest a book which targets the topic would be a better option. I have touched on my views of this in other reviews… I think it stems from my belief that many of the older texts on homesteading and gardening have done such a fine job that it doesn’t need to be covered again. I get very frustrated at every homesteading book spending 20% of their volume telling you about which plants to grow, when several hundred books printed before have already done the same. I feel that unless a writer brings something different to the subject, it shouldn’t be in there.
The next 50 odd pages cover how to work the land and how to try to turn a profit. Covering topics such as crops to grow, how to harvest, and methods are interesting. I had some knowledge of the different farming implements, yet this book shows some great examples of how tools (such as a harrow or a disc) work. I am not in a position to grow so many crops I would need this knowledge, yet if I did, I would have the basics in mind.
Finally, the last 20 pages talk about homesteading skills such as baking, Preserving, and making other simple foods. The section contains very little information, yet the pictures and text are just enough that someone could follow them to get a useful product. I know I have followed these instructions for the mead and been very happy with the results.
I did enjoy this book. At $35, it was pushing the limits on value, yet I really did gain a lot of pleasure from reading this book as well as gaining some knowledge from the information within its pages. If you own John Seymour’s book, I would not recommend this one as it covers almost the same topics… yet without the more in depth look that Seymour provides. It could be a great gift for someone just starting in the homesteading… or someone who thinks that they might be interested.