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Almanac Archive 5/09/2011

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Save The Date!

Tuesday, June 28, 5:30 pm
at the Wakeman Conservation Center
off of Lambert's Cove Road

At this year's meeting, Jeremy Houser PhD., will be giving a presentation on his research about the local effects of global climate change. A light dinner will be served. All are welcome. FREE

Quote of the Week
Biological communities will see dramatic reorganizations in coming decades owing to shifting invasive potential by nonnative species. Click HERE

VCS Current Initiatives
Still not sure what it is that we do?
Here is a list of our current initiatives:

Clean Water Initiative
VCS is continuing a multi-year public awareness campaign to advocate for clean water and a coordinated wastewater management plan to reverse the decline in health of the Vineyard’s Great Ponds.
Vineyard Lawns Campaign
 Part of keeping our waters clean involves persuading Island residents and businesses to avoid chemical lawn fertilizers and encourage use of native grasses and plantings.
Open Space Preservation
VCS provides direction and facilitation to property owners on conserving land. We advocate in the regulatory review process on behalf of saving open space, farmland, habitat, and natural resources like clean water.
Protecting Agricultural Land
Local farms define rural character, maintain a link with the past, and promise a more sustainable future. VCS has worked for decades to conserve our prime farm soils and rejuvenate local farming using Agricultural Preservation Restrictions (APRs) and other tools. Building partnerships with towns and colleagues has been a formula for success at places like the new Ag Hall, Nip 'n' Tuck, Morning Glory, Native Earth and Katama Farms.
VCS Winter Walks
The VCS Winter Walks Program offers monthly guided walks during the winter months on private lands, many conserved under VCS auspices. All walks are free and open to the public.
Island-Wide Recycling Initiative
Part of VCS’s broad definition of conservation involves promoting Island-wide coordination of solid waste disposal and enhanced recycling capabilities in all Island towns.
Climate Change Adaptation
Some of the greatest impacts of global climate change will be felt at the coasts. VCS is promoting community awareness about the local environmental impacts we can expect and plan for.

Conservation Calendar

Wee Farmers

Saturdays, May 7 - May 28
9:30 - 11 am.  The Farm Institute

Farming for the little ones! It's time to visit your animal friends and help take care of the garden at The FARM Institute 9:30- 11 am. Children may pat the bunny, hold a baby chick, feed the piglets or plant in the Wee Farmer garden plot. Children must be accompanied by a parent or caregiver; one child per adult.  $15/session. To register,email:

Regulating New England Fisheries:
Tuesday, May 10, 7 pm
Vineyard Haven Public Library

Martha's Vineyard and Dukes County Fishermen's Association.
for more information email: amyryan@clamsnet.org

The Importance of Shellfish to our Environment

Tuesday, May 17, 7 pm
Vineyard Haven Public Library

Rick Karney from the Martha's Vineyard Shellfish Group will be speaking
about our precious shellfish! We all love to eat them, but do you know
how vital they are for our environment?  Put  several clams, oysters or
mussels in a bucket of dirty water and in 28-48 hours, you will have
clean water. They add to the integrity of the coast line by providing
an anchor to strengthen the sea grass and other small animals that feed
there. They are also very tasty!

Film Screening: Farming the Future
Oak Bluffs Library , May 19, 6:30 p.m.
Screening of documentary film, Farming the Future: Farm Life on Long Island.  Free and all are welcome.

Vineyard Wildlife Festival

Saturday, May 21, 10:00am-2:00pm
Felix Neck Edgartown

Celebrate Vineyard Wildlife and Citizen Science at Felix Neck! Activities,
talks and walks for the whole family. Get up close and personal with a
raptor, search for salamanders in the woods, and more!
  • 10:00 am: Beginners Bird Walk with Rob Culbert
  • 11:00 am: Live Birds of Prey Show
  • 12:00 pm: All About Horseshoe Crabs
  • 1:00 pm: Salamander Search
Activities, crafts and live birds of prey demonstrations throughout the day.
Looking for lunch? Enjoy local burgers and hot dogs by The Farm Institute.

In Season Recipes


Cut a 2” square of real bacon into small chunks and fry until done. Set aside bacon and discard half the bacon grease (more or less depending on how much there is and how much dandelion greens you have). Briefly sauté some chopped sweet Bermuda onion in the pan till barely tender. Toss onions, bacon grease and bacon chunks with cleaned dandelion greens. Serve immediately.

Add a bit of Mermaid Farm Feta cheese if you like.

No need for vinegar as the greens are tart enough.
From Edible Wild Plants of Martha’s Vineyard


2 bunches of local wild watercress (Try to get mature watercress...it will hold up better to the hot dressing.)
3-4 slices bacon
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
4 teaspoons sugar
Salt and pepper
A pinch of ground mustard
A pinch of paprika (sweet)

1 Rinse thoroughly the watercress, removing old leaves and thick stems. Set aside in a serving bowl.

2 Heat a small stick-free pan on medium heat and cook the bacon until done, several minutes on each side. Remove the bacon from the pan and put on a paper towel. Keep the bacon fat in the pan.

3 Add the cider vinegar and sugar to the bacon fat. Stir to dissolve. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, add a pinch of ground mustard and a pinch of paprika. Taste and adjust seasoning. This is a sweet-sour dressing, so if it is too acidic, add a bit more sugar, if too sweet, add a bit more vinegar.

4 Bring the dressing to a simmer. Pour over the watercress. Crumble the bacon over the top. Toss and serve.

Serves 4 to 6.
May 9, 2011


Hoffman Edgar Hearn at Mermaid Farm and Dairy, Chilmark

Chances are, no matter where you are on the Vineyard, you are not far from a place that has been made better or left in its natural state thanks to the work of the Vineyard Conservation Society. We are a local non-profit whose success (click HERE to see some of our achievements) depends greatly on our members. If you haven’t already, please renew your membership. If you are not a member and would like to learn more about our work, click HERE and if you like what you see, join us!

Local News


Dylan Isabella Hart...Spring romping


Well, it’s officially spring, one of the most coveted seasons on the Vineyard! When we returned to our West Tisbury home after a week in Boston, much to our delight the daffodils, crocus and lady slippers were in full-bloom! Dylan, my sixteen month old baby girl, ran around the yard babbling and eagerly smelling most of the flowers (only sacrificing a few) with a grin that lit up her whole face. The neighbor’s house was only slightly visible with the new growth. And the woods were alive! It was indeed a perfect spring day.

That same day, on my way to up-island Cronig’s I drove past a gang of wild turkeys, ancient stone walls, stately cedars in meadows of yellows and greens, a blue jay, a squirrel, a horse, three guinea hens, one deer, three friends and a peacock. I looked back at my daughter (who was able to see some of what I saw, but was not quite tall enough to see it all), and I thought, “Wow, aren’t we lucky?” And just like that my winter blues finally surrendered to spring and all her glory!


A VCS Vineyard Lawn sign announces the chemical-free lawn at the West Tisbury Town Hall

Last month thanks to VCS board member Joan Ames, the Town of West Tisbury agreed to participate in the VCS Vineyard Lawn Program by promoting their chemical-free lawns with VCS Vineyard Lawn signs! Help encourage your town to do the same! email khart@vineyardconservation.org for details.

Click HERE for information on the VCS Vineyard Lawn Campaign.


What better way to celebrate spring than eating locally and eating wild! A limited number of copies of Linsey Lee’s classic Edible Wild Plants of Martha’s Vineyard is available through VCS (click HERE to get yours!). The well-researched volume contains a wealth of information on preparation and medicinal properties, along with dozens of hand-colored renderings and recipes.

In the foreword to the revised edition, she provides a caution, however:

Many wild plants found in profusion twenty-five years ago are increasingly scarce. The Island is still a beautiful place, but its plant habitats are strained. The Vineyard’s natural environment offers endless satisfaction and learning if we simply stop and take the time to observe. Enjoy the awareness of the wonder of the natural world around us that this book can help bring, but proceed with caution and respect in gathering.

Book excerpt:

Dandelion (Taraxacum afficinale)

Dates Edible Late March to September.

Description: Familiar yellow-flowered plant with rosette of jagged-edged green leaves.

Dandelion greens are probably the best known of all the wild edible plants. Dandelion roots and greens are higher in vitamin C and A than most other greens, and the dandelion is always one of the earliest greens to appear and so it gained great favor as a medicinal herb as well as a potherb. In suburban America people who do not know better regard the dandelion only as an unsightly blemish on their carefully manicured lawns and continue to spend money on vegetables which have been sprayed with chemicals and have a much lower vitamin content.

In the days before frozen and canned vegetables, during the long winters people often suffered from a myriad of complaints ranging from blindness to scurvy caused by a severe vitamin deficiency, and so the gathering of the first string greens which so miraculously cured all these ailments was a long anticipated event.


Japanese Knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum)

One of the concerning impacts of climate disruption on Martha’s Vineyard is an acceleration in the spread of invasive species. These are plants and animals that establish themselves in a non-native ecosystem and cause harm to the environmental balance, often with negative economic and human health effects.

Click HERE for excellent FAQ on invasives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

These “alien invaders” like Japanese Knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) can wreak havoc on critical natural habitats by outcompeting natives for resources.

So, while edible plant collectors on the Vineyard are cautioned to avoid indiscriminate gathering of many of our native edibles, Polygonum does not fit that description! All the more reason to take advantage of this edible opportunity.

Excerpted from Wild Edible:

Dates edible May to June.
Preparation New shoots resemble asparagus, gather until 1’. Cook like asparagus. Use young stalks up to 3’ like rhubarb. Purple-green, mottled rind must be peeled off.

Description: Knotweed is a versatile, wild edible plant – it can be treated both as a fruit and as a vegetable with equally delicious results. Knotweed was introduced as an ornamental plant, resembling a large-leafed bamboo and growing in graceful, shady patches. However, it established itself and spread rapidly, monopolizing any area in which it grew. It is difficult to eradicate.

Knotweed also contains a natural phenol called Resveratrolwhich is being studied for its anti-cancer, anti-inflamatory, blood-sugar-lowering and beneficial cardiovascular effects.

Interested in spring planting on the Island that encourage native species? Click HERE


Volunteers at Owen Park Beach

VCS wanted to send a special thank you to all of the kids who took the time on a Saturday afternoon to demonstrate good stewardship over their environment at the VCS Earth Day Beach Clean-up! 
A special congratulation is in order for:James Kelleher, Daniel Gaines, Ruby Suman, Everett & Kent Healy, Paul Conroy, Hoffman Hearn, Izabella Morris, Abigail Hammarlund, Ashley Casey and Jason Davies who are this year's raffle recipients for gift certificates to Riley's Reads!
Click HERE to read a behind the scenes re-cap on this year's successful event!