Tull Family Farm and Forest

Author: Jessica | 03/20/16

Coyote family

A coyote family at the forest edge of the Tull Family Farm.

Historic Hathaway Land Claim Protected

Chris Tull remembers “slow times during the summer on a clear, blue-sky day, sitting with Dad looking out across the front yard and fields, with snow-capped Mount Baker reigning significantly in the distance.”

The view Chris remembers was that from the Tull Family Farm, a pastoral 65-acre gem on North Whidbey that is the Land Trust’s latest conservation easement save. The farm, with 43 acres of forest and shrub habitat and 22 acres of prime agricultural land, is situated just inside Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve on Monroe Landing Road near Oak Harbor. The farm’s forested area adjoins a 46-acre mature forest already protected by Island County with the assistance of the Land Trust.

Patty Cohick, eldest daughter of the five sons and four daughters of Navy Commander Robert Tull and his wife, Anne, remembers that — even before the family moved to Whidbey Island — she would “sit in the living room late at night with Dad and Mom after all the ‘little kids’ were in bed, listening to her parents dream and plan to have something like
the farm.”

Grimes home

Home that Charles H. Grimes built on the old Donation Land Claim property of Eli Hathaway. Robert Tull purchased the property in 1963. Photo courtesy of the Tull Family.

That dream came true when Tull purchased the farm in 1963 and the family moved there a year later. Since he passed away in 2007, the farmland has been leased to the neighboring Penn Cove Farms. The eight surviving Tull siblings, and the spouse of one deceased son, were preparing to list it for sale when they were approached by the Land Trust. The family decided unanimously to protect the property through a conservation easement. They plan to sell the farm and forest and the one home site that was retained, subject to the terms of the conservation easement, which will run with the land and therefore must be followed by subsequent owners.

The Land Trust purchased the conservation easement with funding from the Island County Conservation Futures Fund and the U.S. Navy.

The farm was originally part of the Hathaway Donation Land Claim, once occupied by its namesake, Captain Eli Hathaway. He lived there with a Native American woman and their son, George. The Captain later became well known in Island County as the sheriff and assessor. He is buried somewhere on the claim, although the exact location of his grave site has been lost.

The farm provides important habitat for a wide range of native wildlife. Peregrine falcons, Merlin, Cooper’s Hawks, Sharp-shinned Hawks, American Kestrels, Northern Goshawks, and Red-tailed Hawks all have been documented in the area. The property also provides rich breeding and rearing habitat for many native songbirds, owls, and woodpeckers.

Mary Daniels, another of the Tull siblings, fondly remembers “Mom watching from the kitchen window as the deer would come up to eat the apples from the tree behind the house and, in the spring, the fawns would be with their mums.”

“Most of all, though, what I cherish is the unfettered freedom to roam that was ours… We had it good back then — no wildlife threats that we knew of and we knew almost everyone we encountered wherever we went. We were spoiled with the overgrown berry vines, plum and apple trees, daffodils, lilacs, and rock roses.”

“It was a great place to grow up.” And now it will be protected forever.

Why the Tull Family Farm and Forest?

The Tull Family Farm is located within our Monroe Landing Protection Priority Area, designated for its large tracts of productive working farms and mature forests, that together provide great habitat for wildlife and scenic vistas, just south of the City of Oak Harbor.

We have 28 designated Priority Areas located throughout Whidbey and Camano Islands where we focus our land protection efforts. We identified these areas using scientific and natural resource information and input from natural resource experts, our members, and the public.

Priority Areas contain landscapes that have:

  • Coastal shoreline and wetlands,
  • Freshwater wetlands and streams,
  • Working farms,
  • Mature forests,
  • Significant areas for plants and animals, and/or
  • Quality scenic value and open space.

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