John Atwell, Homesteader in Hawaii
Name: John Atwell
Occupation: Homesteader (with assorted supplemental income streams)
Place of Residence: Hawaii
Background and Personal History: Born and raised in Virginia, John’s former federal government career of 23 years and the wanderlust of his youth took him to the four corners of the world, leaving Antarctica as the only continent on which he has not lived, studied, worked or simply explored (yet). He holds a degree in archaeology and Southeast Asian studies from the University of Virginia, where he served as a ground search and rescue volunteer and Training Officer with the Appalachian Search and Rescue Conference. He has also completed coursework at Cornell, the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the University of Chiang Mai in Thailand.
In his high school years as a member of the first graduating class of the renowned Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (Alexandria, Virginia), John worked at the National Institutes of Health as a student assistant in a cancer research laboratory, where he was a coauthor on a published research paper on a cancer-fighting drug. He also spent time trapping and radiotracking black bears in the Smokey Mountains as a volunteer with Earthwatch. During these years, John met fellow classmate and now bride of more than two decades, Esther; they live with their four children, whose ages range from early teens through early twenties.
The couple’s journey into sustainable living, organic food, and homesteading began while living in the San Francisco Bay area in the 2008-2010 timeframe. Their current grand life experiment —detaching from a fast-paced, conventional, urban lifestyle to establish a sustainable, organic homestead, homeschool their kids, and become more involved in community and church —began in earnest in early 2014.
Current Projects: Overseeing the construction of a yurt-centered residence on the homestead, expanding the fruit-tree nursery and garden starts operation, developing a customer base for organic native Hawaiian medicinal plants.
Other Fun Facts: In grade school, John toured Europe with a singing boys choir that performed inside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. He has been certified as an Emergency Medical Technician and a Dive Master. An avid consumer of film and eclectic genres of music, John is an ongoing student of Judeo-Christian scripture, and his hobbies include kite flying and SCUBA. Exploring interests in etymology and fantasy fiction fills in his spare time.
More Places to Find John on the Web: For a monthly update on the progress and status of John and Esther’s homestead development, or to read more details about the mechanics of just how they managed to completely unplug from their former lives and jump into their current world, check out their personal blog, Sojourn Chronicle.