The natural world dwells in Kathy Hallam, tuning her instincts and sharpening her eye. Where most people see a barn swallow in a nest of twigs, Hallam, an artisan in Gray Gables, sees a beautiful harbinger of potential. Hallam’s rendering of the little brown bird, painted in pastel and watercolor and set against onion cloth paper, is a captivating balance of realism and artful impression, from the fine twigs poking out of the textured nest to a dab of deep blue over the bird’s eye for depth. Anyone who sees it will feel her attachment to nature, especially to its animals. Read more…
Inside Riverbend, Donna and Frank Doyle’s 4,600-square-foot home at the mouth of the Herring River in West Harwich, windmills are as much a motif as nautical accessories and the creamy color palette. One windmill in particular-—built in 1924 overlooking a secluded inlet—is a centerpiece here. The windmill is rendered in countless photographs and paintings throughout the home, including several on a wall just past the home’s entrance way. It’s also the subject of an image mounted above the fireplace in the living room, a work supplied by Orleans Camera derived from a photograph Donna’s late father shot of the windmill. This windmill also once graced the cover of an issue of Cape Cod Life. Read more…
After eight years of living in the cramped quarters of an 1820s Federal home in Provincetown, Neal Balkowitsch and his partner, Donald Nelson, decided they needed to upgrade the house to make it more functional. “At first we just wanted to add a master bath and replace some rotting windows, but this quickly ballooned into a whole house renovation,” says Balkowitsch. The old place was small and dark with an unfortunate 1930s addition that had a crumbling foundation. The only way to the master bedroom was via the antique, ultra-steep staircase—and the lone bathroom was on the first floor. “Try climbing those stairs in the middle of the night half asleep,” quips Balkowitsch. Some of the old sashes had been replaced with a large plate glass window in the 1950s, rendering the original historical façade unrecognizable.
The realistic coexists with the fantastic on the stoneware created at Flying Pig Pottery in Woods Hole. Using a rare sgraffito technique—carving designs into white clay through a contrastingly colored slip—the Woods Hole company produces a line of plates, bowls, mugs, and more functional items adorned with renderings of maritime icons like mermaids and fish. The company has just released a new line produced by using a warm brown glaze with green highlights over blue slips. On top of their tactile appeal, the pieces are durable and dishwasher safe. For more information, visit www.flyingpigpottery.biz, call (508) 548-7482, or visit their headquarters at 410 Woods Hole Road.
If you need an invaluable, one-stop guide to distinctive products created by Cape and Island artisan—everything from custom sinks to hand-woven fabrics on to stone fireplaces and much more—be sure to order this attractively packaged, easy to use architectural and design sourcebook ($39.95) from the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce’s on-line store. Many of the items have been featured on programs like NECN’s “Dream House.”For information, go to www.capeandislandssourcebook.com or call (508) 362-8910.
Looking for a way to spice up your table this summer? These fish pinch pots ($44 for a set of four) from Jobi Pottery are sure to be welcome additions to any home. Hand-made in a variety of colors and glazes reminiscent of vintage Fiestaware dishes, these bowls are adorned with one or two hand-painted, whimsical fish at the bottom. The pinch pots are perfect for sushi condiments, desktop organizers, organizing jewelry, or as a decoration. Each bowl is made by Susan Urtzman in her Truro studio, using original molds from the shop’s beginnings in the 1950s. Jobi Pottery also makes matching mugs, dinner plates, mugs, serving bowls, sushi plates, and more. To see the rest of the collection, visit www.jobipottery.com.
The days when cooking outdoors meant a long, involved process of starting a fire, keeping the fire going while you ran back and forth between your patio and the kitchen inside (always forgetting a grilling tool, condiment, or serving plate in the process) are long gone. Today’s lovers of outdoor entertaining can have everything right at their fingertips—from cocktails to appetizers to full-course meals—with outdoor kitchens that can be customized in every shape and style due to the development of easy-to-design-and-install kitchen components.
There are outdoor kitchens on the market today that offer a limitless array of cooking options—if pizza is your family’s favorite summer dish, you can purchase an honest-to-goodness pizza oven. If your guests love rotisserie chicken, you can have a rotisserie unit built into your outdoor kitchen. Kitchens can be as simple as an open-air grilling center beside a pool or patio, surrounded by porch furniture, or you can ask a contractor to come up with a design that incorporates a complete Caribbean-style oasis with integrated pool-side seating, a swim-up bar, and more. (For a related story, be sure to read how Marston Mills’ Artistic Grounds contractors designed a stunning, Caribbean outdoor kitchen for one North Falmouth family in our Summer issue of Cape Cod HOME, on newsstands now.)
Jason Hogan, head of marketing at Stonewood Products in Harwich and Mashpee, says that the development of high-end, easy-to-move modular components and appliances in stainless steel have made it relatively simple to design and install an outside kitchen—no matter your budget and space limitations.
“The development of modular components has really helped turned the outdoor kitchen market into a growing trend,” says Hogan from the company’s Harwich location. Hogan says that some customers want a relatively small kitchen, with a simple grill, perhaps a sink, and a small refrigerator, and others want the whole works. “Some customers want big gourmet kitchens with all the bells and whistles,” says Hogan, noting that Stonewood had one customer whose fancy outdoor kitchen rang in at close to $70,000. “Some people want really elaborate set-ups, fancy countertops—they want different kinds of stone, or seating for up to 40 people.
“The lightweight modular units, which are built off-site, are really easy for contractors to work with,” says Hogan, noting that Stonewood offers a full line of outdoor kitchen modular options and stone veneer choices, which can be viewed on the company’s web site (www.stonewoodproducts.com), along with a helpful Do It Yourself video on an actual Cape Cod outdoor kitchen installation.
The modular galvanized steel cabinets housing grills, sinks, refrigerators—even kegerators for those who want their beer cold and on tap—are then covered with cement board, which is surfaced with stone veneer. Stonewood has lots of veneer choices for outdoor kitchen customers. “We recommend the thin stone veneer, which is the natural stone,” says Hogan. “The natural stone has come down a lot in price and can be the same, or even cheaper, than manufactured stone veneer. We have a huge display here where people can pick the stone to match their house or their patio. It can be a mosaic look, a pattern—and if they want something that looks like brick, that’s easy too.”
Building an outdoor kitchen may seem like a costly investment, but as Hogan points out, the cost of remodeling a kitchen can be three times the cost of an entire, brand new outdoor kitchen. “When you consider that you can build a really nice, outdoor kitchen for $10-$12,000 in less than a week’s time—and that the cost of remodeling your interior kitchen can run $25-$30,000—you can see that an outdoor kitchen is a pretty reasonable investment,” says Hogan. “And the other thing is that outdoor kitchens are smart environmental choices. Instead of burning fossil fuels to go out to eat or to travel around the country, you’re dining and vacationing in your own backyard.”For information on Stonewood Products, go to www.stonewoodproducts.com.
Finely wrought, glass “sea bubbles” capture the alluring movement of the swirling blue and green waters of the Atlantic Ocean, and hold a bit of the Cape and the Islands wherever they are displayed. Each four 1/2 inch ball is filled with sand and seashells, resembling a sea bubble caught in the ocean waves. The ocean balls are crafted by local glassblower Michael Magyar, at his studio in East Sandwich. No two are alike; each one has a different design, color, and size. The ocean balls are part of the Cape Cod Sea Bubble Collection and can be custom-made in a variety of sizes, colors, styles and even can be engraved at no additional cost. Ocean balls are $58; for more information visit the Glass Studio on Cape Cod, 470 Route 6A, East Sandwich, 508 888-6681, www.glassstudiooncapecod.com.
Complementing a home with seaside accents is an exercise in subtlety. Rich Details, a new line of home accessories from the East Sandwich-based company, Embroidery by the Sea, features delightful cotton napkins, tea towels, and fine stone coasters—each created with a delicate maritime charm by founder Pamela Rich Mulhearn. The designs give any home a splash of seaside charm and can enliven any kitchen or dining room. Rich Details also customizes products with burgees, logos, or monograms. Items from the Rich Details line are available at Tale of the Cod in Chatham and Oyster Island Emporium in Osterville. Prices range from $12 to $30. Call (508) 833-6574 or visit richdetails.com for more information.
Julie Olsen’s hair flutters in the wind as she drives a huge John Deere 5520 tractor. As farm manager at The FARM Institute on Martha’s Vineyard, Olsen is still pursuing a passion for agriculture that she has nurtured since growing up on the Cape in Dennis. After graduating from Sterling College in 2007 with a degree in sustainable agriculture and then traveling around the world to find her dream farm, she found herself working as a farm hand at The FARM Institute in 2008. “The executive director would ask me to do these super-human things,” she recalls joyfully. Apparently, her boss thought her strength was on par with that of the much-larger lead farm hand, and once asked her to “reorganize” a collection of cut telephone poles. She stuck it out and moved up to farm manager last fall. “When I first came here, it just didn’t feel like work,” Olsen says. “I can’t believe I get paid to do this.”
Down a winding dirt road in the island community of Katama, past tourists sporting brand new Martha’s Vineyard sweatshirts and gripping melting ice cream cones, The FARM Institute sits on 162 acres of emerald pastures speckled with Belted Galloways, the FARM’s signature cattle. Surrounded by the lively animals as well as bountiful vegetable and herb gardens, and farm workers tending to daily tasks, students of all ages pull carrots out of the ground for the first time, watch cows give birth, and learn about preserving the Vineyard’s natural resources. It’s a working and teaching farm that provides an atmosphere of total immersion, instilling a new generation with a love of the land like the one that took hold of Olsen in her childhood. The hope is that in the coming years, the FARM Institute could be a prototype for agricultural education throughout the country.
The FARM Institute’s origins can be traced to a 1999 chance encounter at the West Tisbury Farmer’s Market. Vineyard resident Sam Feldman struck up a conversation with agriculturist and teacher Glenn Hearn about his dream of starting an educational island farm. Hearn shared similar conversations with islanders Mike Kidder and John Curelli, and brought all the parties together. Though they were “just four guys without any expertise,” Feldman says, “we just hit it off. We all had a common dream about establishing a farm school.”
A year later, the seeds of the FARM—which stands for Food, Agriculture and Resource Management—were sown with the intention of extending the island’s agricultural legacy. “Through this working farm and through teaching children in the community about sustainable agriculture, we are trying to educate and empower the future leaders of our community,” says former executive director Matthew Goldfarb. Every educational program offered at the FARM teaches the elements of sustainable farming, creating emotional and lifetime connections between children, the land, and its resources.
A key element of the institute’s sustainable agriculture program is its method of grass-based farming. From April to December, the FARM’s cows, sheep, pigs, goats, and chickens eat around 75 percent of the grass in a pasture before being rotated to a fresh one, ensuring the grass is evenly used and will come back bountifully the following year. The FARM also cultivates hay every June or July to sustain the animals during winter months. The same principle is applied to crops, and the corn, eggplant, kale, squashes, and other vegetables are rotated every season to maintain the soil’s exceptional health. The FARM grows this wide variety of produce thanks to the abundance of “Katama loam”—soil that is extremely fertile as a result of glacial silt deposits from the island’s formation thousands of years ago. All of the crops are organically grown, without pesticides or chemicals.
On most summer days, the FARM sees around 100 students learning the secrets of sustainable farming. While children as young as two participate in the Wee Farmers program, older children can sign up for all-day programs that revolve around Concepts of the Week, a set of changing, farm-wide educational themes that range from land preservation to the culture and history of Vineyard farming. The institute also offers several classes for more seasoned agriculturists, with topics like composting, alternative energy, and even beer brewing.
FARM students are involved with the island’s community supported agriculture (CSA) program, which directly links farmers with consumers and reduces goods brought in from off-island sources. “For the FARM Institute, the purchase of our food helps to brand us as both an educational facility and a working farm that grows food for our community,” says Development Assistant Cathy Verost. In addition to selling shares of the FARM’s produce, the Institute recently established a meat CSA program, which provides cuts of FARM-raised beef, chicken, turkey, pork, and lamb.
Julie Olsen, a self-described “conscious omnivore,” who prefers to eat meat raised by herself or a friend, proposed and established the new CSA after learning about a similar venture in Hardwick, Mass., at an organic farming conference in 2009. The community’s positive response has been staggering, even off the island: The FARM had to double the number of CSA shares offered to Falmouth residents, and 27 people are still on the waiting list.
In the future, Olsen would like the FARM to be completely self-sustaining. Education, however, remains the FARM’s highest priority: When students learn about the benefits of practicing local and sustainable agriculture, they take those lessons to heart. Awareness—just like kale or squash—is the product of a hard day’s work.