Ellen Sandbeck was born in San Francisco in 1958, raised in Marin County, and graduated from the College of Creative Studies at U.C. Santa Barbara in 1979 with a B.A. in studio art. After graduation she quickly learned what “starving artist” meant.
She and her future husband started an organic landscaping business in the S.F. Bay Area in 1980. They started with tools bought on credit from their first client, and commuted to their first job (tools and all) via the B.A.R.T. (Bay Area Rapid Transit).
Huge amounts of library and field research helped Ellen Sandbeck formulate a philosophy and practice of organic landscaping which was efficient, healthy, and fun. Ms. Sandbeck lost 35 pounds in her first year of landscaping, without dieting or other exercise.
Ellen Sandbeck and her husband moved to Duluth, Minnesota in 1985, in search of a slower pace of life. Their family has now expanded to include two children, two dogs, tens of thousands of composting worms, and a small flock of laying hens.
Ms. Sandbeck grows and sells composting worms and has set up worm composting systems for individuals, schools, businesses, and the Federal Prison Camp in Duluth, where a one hundred foot long bin is used to compost food waste from the camp.
Ms. Sandbeck became a writer when a landscaping client volunteered her to write a booklet about non-toxic gardening and housekeeping for a non-profit group. Due to an enormous amount of stockpiled material, the booklet became a book, “Slug Bread & Beheaded Thistles,” which Ms. Sandbeck then self-published. A few years later, much to Ms. Sandbeck’s surprise, a literary agent was able to sell the reprint rights to “Slug Bread” to a major New York publisher. Several books later, Ms. Sandbeck is still surprised to be a writer.
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