Dave’s Farmtopian Vision


I spent a lot of time hanging out at the Day Road farms last week for a story on city-owned farmlands. You can read that story here.

I came across Dave Ullin volunteering a lot of sweat and time building an irrigation culvert. Dave’s not a farmer, but I always like to hear Dave’s thoughts, so I sat down on one of the boulders awaiting its place in the culvert and asked him what he thought about the state of farming on Bainbridge.

Dave is Bainbridge Island’s answer to Henry David Thoreau. His life is barebones simple. He lives in an anchored-out tugboat without heat, electricity and plumbing. He eats a lot of tug-grown sprouts and stinging nettle sauerkraut. He hauls his own water and uses his hand-forged tools for a variety of volunteer projects, from felling logs for Yeomalt Cabin to ripping out invasive plants at Waterfront Park.

He also spends a lot of time thinking, and sometimes he puts his thoughts on paper. So when I asked him about farming, he stopped by my office later and handed me an essay entitled “Dave’s View: a Vision for Affordable + Sustainable Living.”

I couldn’t quite fit any of my conversation with Dave into the farming story, but you can read his essay below.

Dave’s View: A Vision for Affordable + Sustainable Living

I came from a pioneer-like start, a home-made, do-it-yourself background tied together by generosity.

When I started first grade in public school, I was instantly aware of the frivilous nonsense of this culture, the accessories and activities not related to basic needs. A waste of time, a waste of resources and a detour away from inner contentment.


From my experiences in the garden, the woods, on the beach, on the water, and working with nature with hand tools builds a can-do attitude combined with reverence that is way stronger than the peer-pressure need to conform to the show of society.

I see life in “advanced” cultures as a prison term because the forces of indoctrination, peer pressure and written law attempt to derail each new generation from their continuum potential.

Much of the indoctrination of this culture is for short term gain (earn-buy). This is contrary to long term good sense (wisdom). Written laws tend to favor those that play the game well and peer pressure persuades many more to strive to follow; either way the exercise of wisdom is not encouraged.

I feel the need to stand against the tide, to argue as if in a court case against the present script in fashion. To expose the frivolous and replace it with the essential. To awaken independent thought and wisdom.

I suggest that if we are intentionally considerate of the web of life, the self will benefit as a side affect. As we work toward growing and crafting more of our basic needs, this activity will transform us to be more respectful of all, in less than one generation.

Suggestions and visions:

1. No developer-built housing

2. I don’t believe affordable housing should be provided, but allowed. When provided, the present model of excess is perpetuated. When allowed, diversity can discover what is enough.

3. I suggest that the city’s affordable housing and farmland programs be combined in such a way to allow participants to make these discoveries.

4. Homes will encircle community gardens and be built by those wishing to steward the land. They will be “home-made” both for the experience and to raise the questions, “how much do we really need?”

5. A large clearing is required for sunlight so community gardens are more efficient than small individual clearings.

6. Homes will be a minimum footprint and out around the edges to maximize growing area.

7. Gardens will occupy the less sloping portion of south-facing slopes while the more sloping portion will be orchard or pasture to hold erosion.

8. Hedgerows for birds, windbreak and rainwater penetration.

9. Forests will occupy north-facing slopes and margins.

10. Each “neighborhood farm” will have a shop where members with various skills can build and repair everything needed for farm life. All skills are important from spinning to sawmilling to sauerkraut, etc.

11. This is a script fro the Art of Sustainable Living where all ages can connect to their continuum intelligence through opportunities to practice.

12. This can be the seed to spread good sense to the larger culture.

Dave Ullin
Eagle Harbor
Sept. 29, 2007