Searching for Ecotopia
A tale of a family attempting to live a sustainable, and self-sufficient life. The journey started in the heart of Silicon Valley. For 11 years we particpated in local food production and advocacy, while developing our own backyard farm. At the height of our efforts, our little homestead grew to four daughters, two dogs, nine turkeys, eight laying chickens, one aquaponics system, and a rabbit. Our yard was covered with edible plants. A small orchard of 5 fruit trees: lemon, peach (which we grew from seed), nectarine, orange, and our venerable plum tree flanked the north edge. Perennial plants had been established throughout the back yard, including: three different artichokes, two raspberry patches, fennel, some strawberries, and two asparagus patches. We had a saladbar garden with arugula, lettuce, mustard that we let go to seed, and had replanted itself over three seasons! Radishes were also allowed to go to seed, and provided tasty surprises throughout the yard.
As a family, we participated and supported community organizations and groups, including: Full Circle Farm, local food MeetUps, our daughter's school gardens, and co-founded the agricultural education, non-profit SchoolGrown. As our harvests and our family grew, growing pains inside our home, and from our rapidly growing community encouraged us to seek a new place to call home. With four daughters getting closer to puberty, and a three-bedroom house, we wanted more space for them to grow. Ok, we really didn't NEED a bigger house, but given the opportunity, Jennifer and I wanted to give the girls their own rooms. All around us, high-density, and mix-use housing we replacing every empty wherehouse, and the roads were not getting any bigger. To go four blocks to get out of our neighborhood it would sometimes take 10 minutes!
In April, 2018, our family sold our house in Sunnyvale, California and moved to Walla Walla, Washington.
Here we find the space, time, and community to support our efforts to expand on what we learned, and get closer to finding our slice of Ecotopia.
Contributing to healthy a future for humanity and the planet.
Live sustainably. Eat healthy. Act locally. Fruitful fellowship.
My name is Sundown Hazen. Yes, that's my real name. My dad is a hippy, and both my grandfather's were part Cherokee. My dad says he came up with the name on a camping trip, that is the official story. In 2004, I married my wonderful wife, Jennifer. We have four daughters: Zoë (2006), Willow (2010), Stella (2011), and Sparrow (2011).
I am an artist. Life is my medium of choice. Art is an artifact of a relationship that can help one articulate their perception.
The Pirate Produce journey
I am passionate about growing food and contributing to health and sustainability of my local community. Pirate Produce was the first iteration of my vision. My interests stem from growing up in Colorado on 10-acres with a 1/4-acre garden and raising ducks for eggs, and turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner. I gained knowledge and experience with trail building and tree trimming with the California Conservation Corps in Santa Cruz, California. In 2004, I graduated from SJSU with a Bachelors of Fine Art in digital media. From 2004 to 2014, I work at a local Apple store, where I have lived and breathed customer service.
In 2012, I captured parts of our journey as from when we first purchased our house. The house Jennifer grew up in. There is a really big back yard that became the canvas that cultivated experiences in raising food and family. This was a journey towards self-sufficiency through regenerative design.
I left Apple to co-found SchoolGrown in 2014. SchoolGrown is a non-profit dedicated to sustainable, community-scale agriculture that provides healthy food options while demonstrating and teaching resource conservation. The time building this organization and participating in the aquaponics community was a dynamic two years! Working with Jon Parr was one of my greatest opportunities. His approach to greenhouse and aquaponic designs are practical and effective. We taught classes on aquaponics, and built two 1800 ft2 aquaponic systems, one in Half Moon Bay and one in Felton, California. We also had the amazing experience of traveling to Coffman Cove, Alaska to consult and support the local schools complete their aquaponic greenhouses. Once the organization and the first school aquaponics greenhouse was up and growing, I launched into the next chapter of our journey.
Walla Walla & our Search for Ecotopia
Read this blog post about our choice to move to Walla Walla.
Get information about the beginning efforts of my project, “Searching for Ecotopia”.
I have started working at Seattle Tiny Homes, building tiny homes. I am a construction employee, working on different aspects of the build process. Being part of this small company fits well with my previous experiences, education, and values. As I have learned the processes and get to know the team, I have been able to take on more responsibilities such as hiring and HR. I’m looking forward to the possibilities of making a big impact in this tiny way.