Background photo by Don Sylor

We had to do a lot of work to this piece of land in order to farm it. It was basically beach sand when we started, and we just kept adding tons of compost to it and sifting the rocks out, so now it’s great for farming. The typical island soil isn’t naturally good for farming. In some places, it’s really heavy clay. You’ll go a fraction of a mile away and you’ll have the opposite—really sandy soil. A heavy clay is hard to get to be good for gardening. If it doesn’t rain, it turns to cement.

We raise and slaughter between four and six beef cows a year. We have 300 chickens, and we sell every egg we can possibly squeeze out of a chicken. We never have enough eggs.

We have a winter farmers market now that extended the season, which pretty much goes until Thanksgiving. That leaves me December, January, and February to catch my breath.

marthasvineyardVoices-2 Just like anybody, I get exasperated when I have to drive in circles trying to find a parking spot at Stop & Shop in the summer. Or when I’m stuck at this five-corner intersection for half an hour when a few months earlier it took me five minutes. At the same time, I feel like I can’t really be mad. I depend on these people to make a living.

I remember there was a fight to try and bring a McDonald’s to the Vineyard, and there were plenty of people interested in having that happen. But there were definitely more people that didn’t want it to happen. I think there’s a stronger voice for locally grown food now than there was 30 years ago. Back then, it was always easy to sell a bunch of beets or sweet corn or whatever you had, especially in the summer. People were always wild about fresh food. But now there’s the Slow Food group, there are groups of people who expend energy and effort to help farmers do what they can. They go out of their way and spend time and money to help us. There’s a lot more of that than 30 years ago. And if we didn’t have that support, I don’t think we’d survive.

It’s a really nice feeling that people care that much. A 15-hour workday isn’t really going to be worth it if there isn’t somebody on the other end cheering you on.

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Jeff is the Managing Editor for Cape Cod Life Publications.

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Menamsha by the sea, Martha’s vineyard Island, Mass

Menamsha by the sea, Martha's Vineyard Island, Mass