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CLEVELAND (WJW) — Growing fears over food scarcity and supply chain issues have given rise to a new kind of modern “prepper.”

“The old way of thinking of the prepper is some person building a bunker in their backyard. The people now are sensible people, they’re practical preppers,” said Tom Laskowski, of Midwest Native Skills Institute in Seven Hills.

Laskowski’s school offers multiple survival and comprehensive homesteading courses, which have seen a massive jump in students.

So many people are signing up for the courses the school has had to add more, but still can’t keep up with the demand.  

“We have waiting lists more than Y2K,” Laskowski said. “One thing I’m seeing is a high-stress level in people because they feel they don’t have control.”

He said the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, inflation and recession fuel those fears.

Also, in a recent address, President Joe Biden warned of possible shortages.

“Yes, we did talk about food shortages and it’s going to be real,” Biden said in part.

Tom teaches people how to survive on their own if the system collapses. He starts with how to procure food, water, shelter and make fire. On top of that, he offers classes on beekeeping, canning, candle making, soap making and identifying edible and medicinal plants in your own yard.

He said plants like Roman Chamomile to help you sleep, Wood Sorrel which can give you energy and Plantain which is a natural mosquito repellent are all plentiful “weeds” growing across Ohio.

“It’s amazing we have food with beneficial purposes in our backyards and why not learn more about it,” said Jazlin Hernandez, who signed up for the course with her best friend.

Not only are people taking classes, but they’re also preparing for an uncertain future by looking at the past.

Many products are flying off store shelves at Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio, which has specialized in low-tech, no-tech solutions since 1955.

“Like we always say, don’t be scared, be prepared,” said Chris Hess, Director of Operations.

Lehman’s has especially seen a surge in people buying wood cook stoves, which function just like the antique’s on display at the store.

“We’ve seen a huge increase, because not only do they heat your house, but you can actually cook on them when needed. That was one that really took off over the last couple of years, taking (us) by surprise the number of people actually installing wood cook stoves,” Hess said.

Some other popular items include canning and gardening supplies, hand-cranked radios, oil lamps and water filters.

“We’ve always carried this stuff, and it’s what we’ll continue to carry, it just falls in line with what people need during tough times,” Hess said.

The store offers classes on canning, candle making and beekeeping. It sells an array of books for preppers to start prepping.

Lehman’s offers a blog filled with recipes and ideas for people by season.

Laskowski recommends people begin simple and build from there. He said nothing feels better than being prepared.

“If you live your life in some of these ways in the event something comes up you’d be prepared and be able to provide for yourself and your family,” Laskowski said.

To learn more about Midwest Native Skills Institute you can send an email to or call (888) 886-5592.