Wild Ozark

Growing Ginseng, Living Close to Nature, & Learning Self-Reliance in the Ozarks

Nature, Homesteading and … Self-Reliance


Nature, homesteading & self-reliance kind of all three go hand-in-hand out here in the wild Ozarks.

Because of where we live we get to interact daily with lots of Nature’s different faces.

In mid summer 2015 we dealt with a landslide.  The week before, it was flash flooding and a rattlesnake bitten dog.

On a lighter note, we get around here most of the time with our 4-wheeler and there’s always the spider webs on the trails to deal with! Figured out a way to get around that distraction, though, with a Spider Stick.

The ATV is a convenient thing to have but like so many of our other conveniences, if there ever really is a long-term life-as-we-know-it change, it won’t be very useful and that’s always in the back of my mind. Staying fit and able to walk where I need to go is a lifelong goal.

It’s not all challenges. There’s so much beauty and joy here, too.

What is Self-Reliance?

Self-reliance covers a lot of ground. The very basic meaning is the ability to rely on one’s self. That’s not really how it applies to what we’re doing, though because no one is truly able to thrive for long entirely alone.

As it applies to us, it means to be able to provide for our own basic needs by using resources from our land, our skills, and through a network of others of like-mind.

The goal is to be able to enjoy life without being able to run to town for groceries at will. It means being able to engineer solutions to homestead issues at the homestead, or to be able to take care of medical issues with ourselves and our animals in the absence of doctors and veterinarians. To be free of debt is a goal we’ve met and continue to maintain.

How could life ever get to a point where all that is necessary?

That’s an easy one to answer. The simple and very likely possibility for many could be the loss of a job. When I was working and on my own, I lived paycheck to paycheck and there wouldn’t have been a savings to draw on in a time like that. Not having a house note might make the difference between being homeless and having a home.

Having a garden might mean the difference between eating well on our own or relying on the welfare of government or neighbors, or not eating at all on some days. A self-reliance garden is still on our goal list as we haven’t done very well at that, yet.

We have winter storms that put us out of power for more than a week at a time sometimes. Having food put up and solar infrastructure means we don’t have to suffer very much at a time like that.

And then there’s the longer odds of a true economic crash or national emergency. It’s happened in the past and could easily happen again and with longer and farther reaching consequences. We’d just rather not be in a position of dependence if that ever happens.

Our Skills

My own specialties are writing, photography & working with plants for food and medicine. My husband is knowledgeable about solar, building, and is great at woodworking & engineering solutions to our problems. Other aspects of our self-reliance plan is learning how to live within our means and starting a home-based business. And so Shop Wild Ozark was born.

We offer:

This life offers a wealth of learning opportunities. One of my favorite aspects of this life is that I get to see and use so many different useful plants. And there are always lots of situations that give me opportunity to learn how to use them.

Like dogs getting bitten by rattlesnakes.

The Useful Plants

Plants are a big part of my life. I spend a lot of time looking for certain ones (the ones I consider useful plants), photographing them and learning how to use the ones that lend themselves to such pursuits. Some of the ones most useful are those called “weeds” by people who keep pristine lawns.

What is a "useful plant"?

What is a “useful plant”?

I value some plants just because they’re picky about where they live and need humans to be more aware of how their actions impact life around them. American ginseng falls into this category.

I also value plants that provide food to us and the animals, both wild and domestic. Lots of plants fall into that category, from everything we grow in the garden to the wildflowers that feed the bees and hummingbirds.

Useful plants give us food, shelter, tools, medicines, bring comfort and joy. Yes, I consider aesthetics to be a useful quality.

A plant can be useful to other life-forms even if I don’t find it all that useful myself. I have a hard time thinking of one to fit this category, but I’m sure there’s one out there somewhere. I pretty much find all plants useful in some way.

Admittedly, I feel more enthusiastic about some more than others. Herbalism has always been a passion, so those plants that are useful for remedies are the ones that catch my eye most often.

Wild Ozark is where I share what I know about my friends and allies, the useful plants. My husband and I homestead and grow wild-simulated American ginseng and other native plants for the Wild Ozark Nursery.  We’re not fanatical preppers, but we do keep in mind the uncertain future.

Are you learning self-reliance?

Our latest self-reliance category title is 10 Common Plants Worth Knowing in a Long-term Survival Situation.

You can read the first chapter here. For the best price, get it from our online shop.cover for 10 Common Plants Worth Knowing


We practice sustainability & make practical improvements to our home & land knowing these things will help us weather any unforeseen events on the horizon. I write about and photograph medicinal and edible Ozark plants, including American ginseng. This site is a good place to start if you want to build your own herbal armory and make allies of the plants around you.

Way out here off the beaten path, I soak up nature and wilderness experiences to use for my urban fantasy fiction stories.

We operate a small ginseng and woodland plant nursery in northwest Arkansas. Our specialty is helping people learn and grow ginseng and the other wild Ozark plants that can keep them fed and healthy if all else fails one day.

Ordinarily, I bring our plants, books, posters and information about the wild Ozark plants to the Huntsville, Arkansas Farmer’s Market from April through October. We had a very destructive flood on June 16, 2015 that destroyed our driveway and washed the nursery downstream. I’m still not able to return to the market yet, but when I do, I’ll update this page.

I’m the voice behind this blog and website. My name is Madison Woods. I write about what we do, take photographs of the incredible plants that live in these hills, spin fantastic tales influenced by our life here, and create beautiful books featuring the plants I’m glad to call my allies. All of it to help you reconnect to nature. Welcome to our website!


Our Ginseng Sanctuary at Compton Gardens in Bentonville

statue of 3 bears at compton gardens

3 bears at compton garden

Wild Ozark is honored and excited to be embarking on a project in conjunction with Compton Gardens in Bentonville, Arkansas. This American Ginseng Sanctuary project is made possible, in part, by a grant from the United Plant Savers. You can watch our progress at this post, where I’ll update with pictures and journal entries.

What we’re doing is recreating a ginseng habitat, complete with American ginseng plants and the companion plants. It will be a work in progress for a couple of years, and is intended to serve as an outdoor educational exhibit for those interested in learning more about the endangered plants of the woodland habitat, like American ginseng, blue cohosh, goldenseal, etc. I’m planning to lead workshops and presentations when we’re done with the installation, but it’s open to the public, free of charge, and anyone can use the facilities for their own ideas.

If you want to make sure you’re on the invitation list for our first Unfurling Party in 2016, be sure to sign up for Wild Ozark’s monthly newsletter before then!

Our Latest Release: American Ginseng & Companions

This book is a photo essay collection of my favorite photographs I’ve taken over the years in the ginseng habitats here at Wild Ozark. It’s not a “how to” book, and some of the photos are also in my other two ginseng-related books. It’s a celebration of the beauty of this unique habitat and the plants that grow in it. For someone trying to learn to identify ginseng and the companions, it is a great resource. It’s $19.99 and you can find it at Createspace and Amazon.



Article Name
Nature, Homesteading & Self-Reliance
Self-reliance covers a lot of ground. My own specialty is working with plants for food and medicine. My husband is knowledgeable about solar, building, and is great at engineering solutions to our problems. Another aspect is learning how to live within our means and starting a home-based business.
Nature, Homesteading and … Self-Reliance was last modified: September 9th, 2015 by Madison Woods


  1. I just wanted to take a quick minute and let you know how thankful I am for the sample salve of Ginger and Lobelia. I hurt for weeks from walking and talking and breathing, due to inflammed cartlidge in my ribs. The salve worked as fast as my hand touched my side. Thank you so much Wild Ozark for what you do. The information you provide us is amazing. Now I need to buy another tin. Jennifer T.

    • Hey Jennifer! I am so glad it worked for you. It’s ginseng and lobelia, though, no ginger in it. But I bet ginger would be a good ingredient, lol. I’m just glad you’ve found some relief and I hope it is a lasting thing. I’ll try to remember to bring one out for you next time I go out.

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