Farm land that VCS helped to protect

Morning Glory Farm, Edgartown

Jim and Debbie Athearn’s Morning Glory Farm includes their family’s farm stand and 18 acres welcoming visitors along the western entrance to Edgartown.  That open field will remain forever protected and a local farming family will have the opportunity to cultivate the land thanks to the work of the Vineyard Conservation Society.

Between 1986 and 1989, the Conservation Society raised $100,000 which, together with funding from the state, town, and the cooperation of then-owners Sherman and Harriet Hoar, led to the permanent preservation of the land through the purchase of an agricultural preservation restriction (APR). Subsequently, the Athearns were able to acquire the land at the much-reduced value because the “development rights” had been stripped off the land, effectively inoculating it against development pressure.

Nip ‘n’ Tuck Farm, West Tisbury

Fred Fisher Nip ‘n’ Tuck Farm is one of the Island’s true landmarks.  Fred raises dairy cows and continues to bottle fresh milk.  Young would-be farmers have always been welcome to apprentice at the farm, and local children and their parents have enjoyed pony rides, hay rides at the holidays, and introduction to the farm animals and the farming way of life.

In 1985 and 1986, the Vineyard Conservation Society coordinated the drive to raise the community’s share of the funding package to acquire an agricultural preservation restriction (APR) on the farm’s 54 acres, which includes fields on both sides of the State Road.

The successful campaign included contributions from over 350 Islanders and a series of public events, culminating in a “Farm Day” open house at Nip ‘n’ Tuck. The result is the preservation of an important part of the agricultural identity of the town, the chance for a family farm to endure, and the permanent protection of one of the Island’s priceless roadside vistas.

Allen Sheep Farm, Chilmark

The magnificent vista of Chilmark Pond and the Atlantic Ocean across the Allen Farm Fields was permanently  preserved with the help of the Vineyard Conservation Society. In 1991, The Conservation Society raised $25,000 which, together with a grant from state scenic highway funds and a 10-year installment purchase agreement with the Land Bank resulted in purchase of the development rights on a critical 22.5-acre portion of the Farm.

It was the foresight and patience of owners Clarissa Allen and Mitchell Posin that allowed the complex package to take shape.  They also donated back $100,000 of the appraised value of the development rights, and placed a conservation restriction (CR) on an additional 7.3 acres of the Farm.

In 1995, with the help of the Conservation Society, Clarissa and Mitchell made an additional gift of a CR on 5.3 acres of the Farm, protecting wildlife habitat and more than 500 feet of the brook flowing into upper Chilmark Pond.

Katama Farm

Starting in 1977, the Vineyard Conservation Society helped facilitate a partnership among the town and the state to permanently protect more than 160 acres of the Great Plains at Katama Farm.  The flat, stone-free soils had been farmed for generations, including a thriving Ayrshire dairy herd of 125 head owned by Elisha Smith in the 1950's and 60's.  In recent years, the town has leased the farm to a variety of agricultural interests, and today, the FARM institute makes Katama Farm its home.

Native Earth Teaching Farm

The Native Earth Teaching Farm is an historic 35-acres of woods, streams, pastures, and farm fields located on North Road in Chilmark which once belonged to legendary whaler and storyteller Cap’n George Fred Tilton. In the late 1920s, this land was purchased by James Gilbert, and in recent years has been farmed by Rebecca Gilbert and Randy Ben David. The farm forms a strategic link in a greenbelt of open space protecting the Mill Brook and Paint Mill Brook watersheds in Chilmark and West Tisbury.

Native Earth Teaching Farm is an organic farm education center involving teachers and school children in educational programs, encouraging the public to learn about sustainable agriculture, offering community garden programs, and promoting the notion of buying locally. The Vineyard Conservation Society worked successfully with the owners to purchase the development rights to the farm in 2005. That conservation restriction (CR) is held by the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation.