Homesteading is a return to a simpler lifestyle, with a new set of values and goals. It’s a movement to live more sustainably and lessen our impact on the environment.
It takes time and hard work, but the benefits are well worth it. Developing the skills to grow and preserve your own food can make all the difference in your life.
A writer and educator reflects on the idealistic, tumultuous, and eye-opening time she spent as a back-to-the-land hippie homesteader in the Kootenays in the 1970s.
What compelled a nice Jewish girl from the suburbs of New York to spend a decade of her life as a hippie homesteader in the B.C. wilderness? Galena Bay Odyssey traces Ellen Schwartz’s journey from a born-and-raised urbanite who was terrified of the woods to a self-determined logger, cabin-builder, gardener, chicken farmer, apiarist, and wood stove cook living on a communal farm in the Kootenays.
Part memoir, part exploration of what motivated the exodus of young hippies—including American expatriates, like Ellen and her husband, Bill—to go “back to the land” in remote parts of North America during the 1960s and ’70s, this fascinating book explores the era’s naivety, idealism, and sense of adventure.
Like most ‘back to the land’ books, Galena Bay Odyssey describes the physical work involved in clearing land, constructing buildings, and living off of what they produced, but it also traces the complicated journey of discovery this experience brought to Ellen and Bill. Now, nearly half a century later, Ellen reflects on what her homesteader experience taught her about living more fully, honestly, and ecologically.
Ellen Schwartz is the author of 18 award-winning books for children, as well as one non-fiction book for adults, a collection of profiles of women singer-song- writers. In addition to writing books, Ellen works as a corporate writer and editor and as a freelance magazine writer who has published hundreds of magazine articles. Ellen has taught creative writing classes for many years at the college and university levels. Her passions include reading, jazz dancing, baking, and hiking.
After a decade of being hippie homesteaders in the Kootenays of British Columbia, Ellen and her husband now live in Burnaby.
“In the 1970s, many people talked about getting back to the land, but few did; even fewer were as successful as Ellen and Bill Schwartz. With humour and impressive honesty, this vivid narrative maps a journey of idealism turned into action. Reading this memoir is like perusing the homesteading pages of the Whole Earth Catalog,” noted Calvin Wharton, author of This Here Paradise.
The author will be hosting talks: May 24 in Nakusp at 7 p.m. at Nakusp Public Library; May 25 in Kaslo at Kaslo Public Library (Time to be determined); May 26 in Nelson at 7 p.m. at Notably, a Book Lover’s Emporium; and May 27 in Nelson from 2 to 4 p.m. at Otter Books.