The following essay contributed by Mike Lempriere of
Perennial Vintners Nov-2008.
For additional essay contributed by The Bainbridge Historical
Society, click here.
Please see our Ichigo dessert wine page.
(Click image on left for overhead view.
Everything boxed was the original Suyematsu farm property,
except the bottomost pink block against Lovgreen Rd.)
Perennial Vintners (PV) is a small property with a house next to
the Suyematsu Farm on Bainbridge Island. We have a tiny
vineyard on our own land, and additional vineyards leased on the
Suyematsu Farm; the largest operating farm in Kitsap County at
this writing. We owe Akio Suyematsu the fact that we're
in business -- he and Gerard Bentryn of Bainbridge
Island Vineyard and Winery (BIVW) have made it possible for the
Lempriere family to become a farming family.
Akio was born on Bainbridge Island, the family lived (on Knight
Rd.?) nearby the now known Suyematsu Farm.
Akio's parents purchased a large chunk of property in the 1920's
encompassing from Day Rd. on the north, much of the way south to
Lovgreen Rd. They built a house on that property and the family
farmed it - Akio continuing to do so for his
entire life -- he just had his 87th birthday a few
days before this writing -- and he's still actively
farming this property today. The family was interned in WWII,
and when released, returned to farm and resumed working.
(The Bainbridge based author of the book Snow Falling On Cedars,
is rumored to have very loosely based his fictional story on the
Suyematsu history.) The family had had many Filipino
employees who worked the farm, many of them lived on adjacent
properties; the PV property is one such property (originally
Almoela family; adjacant Rapada and Morales parcels).
(Click image for larger view. Note in the image
the Crawford, PV, Morales, and two unmarked to the left of PV
and Morales were all Filipino farm properties.)
In the early 1980's, Gerard Bentryn (BIVW) bought some of the
Suyematsu farm from Akio, and has had an informal agreement with
Akio that they will continue to work together on this property
as long as they live. In 2001, the City Of Bainbridge Island
(COBI) voters approved an $8M fund, to preserve land for open
space and agriculture. In Dec-2004, Gerard sold a major portion
of his part of the farm to this program, keeping about 5 acres
for his own winery, family home, and some vineyard.
In the (few) years I've been working on the property, I've seen
Akio produce strawberries, raspberries, pumpkins, and corn.
Akio also runs a composting operation and uses that product for
soil nutrition. In addition, the property is used by BIVW for
growing winegrapes, by Betsey Wittick (as Laughing Crow Farms)
to produce lots of organic produce, especially many varieties of
garlics and potatoes, and is used by Brian McWhorter (as
Butler Green Farms)
to produce every imaginable vegetable which he sells by CSA.
Additionally, Mike Paulson maintains a tree nursery, PV
maintains winegrapes, and several other small plot gardens seem
to always be in work.
The goodwill and goodness that this farm has brought to the
world cannot be measured. It is a precious resource and must be
well taken care of in the future.
Trust For Working Landscapes
is in charge of sheparding this (and other Bainbridge farm)
properties. If you're a Seattle-area locavore, I urge you to
please consider contributing to this organization.
 Brian Stahl, Kitsap County Conservation District, agreed by Dan
 Discussion with Karen Selvar, circa 2014
 Brief interview with Akio, 03-Nov-2008. Akio states that they
paid the mortgage to a wealthy islander named Burns. Upon their
release, Burns was glad to have them return to the farm, and asked
only that they pay the back taxes. Akio also mentioned that the
Filipino employees had done some farming in the interim, however the
farm had not been maintained to anywhere near the Suyematsus
standards, leaving them with years of catchup work. Lastly, Akio also
said that before the internment there were about 40 Japanese/American
farms on the island; afterwards there were just 3.
 Snow Falling On Cedars by David Guterson; Fictional story based
around a Puget Sound Japanese/American and the WWII internment.
 The story of Akio & Gerard including interviews can be found
in The Earth Knows My Name by Patricia Klindienst; a complete chapter
approx. 40 pages.