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Diane Emerson
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Vashon Island, Washington, United States
Climate Zone:
Cool Temperate
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Schiller Farms EcoVillage
Claudia Zysk
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Come Join Us on Magical Vashon Island

Posted by Diane Emerson over 10 years ago

The farmhouse will soon be ready to accept renters - each bedroom rented separately, building a community of permies and compassionate communication

“The more complex our lives become, the more a deep hunger for simplicity calls to us. The answer lies in the natural world that is all around us. The wholeness and connection that the soul longs for is written in the same forests, streams, oceans mountains, sunrises and sunsets where they have always lived.”Rev.  Barry Ebert


Since July, I have been living here on beautiful Vashon Island, just outside Seattle. 


I came here to help create the vision of a year round education and farm community of Nonviolent Communication (also known as Compassionate Communication) and Permaculture. For the past seven years, Barbara Larson and Doug Dolstad  have hosted a Nonviolent Communication Family Camp here for one week every summer. When I volunteered at Family Camp last year, I learned about their larger vision for the property, incorporating permaculture, compassionate communication, and education on both. Permaculture and compassionate communication, to me, are two practices which are critical to the evolution of humans on this world. So I offered to help create this vision.


Doug and Barbara have a  7 year lease on 8 acres of the Dolstad family property of 28 acres.  On the eight acres we are leasing, we have a large farmhouse, a spring on a hill, a century-old apple/nut orchard, mixed deciduous and fir woods, hayfields, deer fenced gardens, composting toilets and solar outdoor showers, among other delights. The beach on the Salish Sea is a fifteen minute walk down the road.


It takes twenty minutes to bicycle to the small town of Vashon, with its cafes and library,  farmer’s market, two grocery stores, two hardware stores, and weekly community acupuncture clinic. A time bank is just getting started on the island, and there is a Truly Free Market held monthly during summer. Every Thursday evening, local musicians gather in a shed only ten minutes away by bicycle. Everyone is welcome.


From the farmhouse it takes about 35 minutes to bicycle to the ferry terminal. There are regular car ferries seven days a week, and a commuter ferry on weekdays that takes people and their bicycles right to downtown Seattle. Many people commute to Seattle from here for work or school. Many more work from home or have found a way to make a living on the island. For being so close to a major metropolitan area, the whole island is remarkable for its wilderness, peace, and silence.


Food is abundant here in summer, once the blackberries and apples ripen. A bounty for all. Mushrooms abound in the forests in spring and fall.  I look forward to growing our own on mushroom logs on the property.


Currently, I am sheet mulching a 5000 ft square deer-fenced garden space for the people who join us in the farmhouse, so everyone who wishes to can have a garden plot, protected from the beautiful deer we share the farm with.  Raccoons, osprey, Canada geese, towhee, swallows, owls, pheasant,  pileated and other woodpeckers, and hummingbirds are commonly seen or heard, with bald eagles, great blue herons and killdeer seen more along the coast of the island. The Salish Sea, aka Puget Sound, surrounds us here. We can see it from the farmhouse great room.  One of the upstairs bedrooms has a window seat with a view of the sea, beyond the apple trees, hayfield, and forest.

We envision that the people who live in the farmhouse embody principles and practices of compassionate communication, and have a strong desire to live more sustainably than most of the Western world, using Permaculture principles and practices. From this home and hearth we hope to offer to the world compassionate communication and Permaculture skills as applied to mediation, training and facilitation. Our 30’ yurt is reserved as an open space for such activities. So far, I am the first one living in the house, and helping Barbara and Doug to set everything up for others of like heart and mind to join me here.


We are all working together to create an environment of comfort and beauty, care and consideration for all who live here. 


If you know of anyone who might be interested in living in the farmhouse with others who practice compassionate communication and permaculture, I would be grateful if you would share this information with them.  I am happy to answer any questions people have about the vision and the opportunity to live here.


There are 5 bedrooms rooms in the house. Four good sized to huge bedrooms are currently available, with rent from $500 to $650 per month, plus a share of the electricity. Water, internet, and recycling are included in the rent.  We enjoy the wildlife on the property very much, and will be having chickens at some point, so have decided to have the house and property pet free.


I look forward to hearing from you or others who might like to know more.


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My Permaculture Qualifications
Earth Activist Training
Type: Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course
Teacher: Starhawk Starhawk
Location: Cazadero, California
Date: Jan 2012

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