Take a hike!
When you think of Martha’s Vineyard, do you see the picturesque town of Edgartown or the pastel gingerbread houses of Oak Bluffs? Or, do you see an open expanse of undisturbed dunes and alluring beaches? If you picture the latter, odds are you are picturing Menemsha Hills. This 211-acre preserve is situated in the southwestern town of Chilmark on the Vineyard and has options for every Vineyard visitor. Within the 211 acres exists many mini-environments including wetlands, woodlands, plains and of course, ocean. Each mini environment is home to its own cadre of wildlife. If you’re looking to expand your geological knowledge, Menemsha is a can’t-miss. Across the reservation lies the geological evidence of millennia gone by, of glaciers and retreating ice that created not just the Vineyard, but other islands and coastlines of the Northeast.
Make sure to visit the Vineyard in 2020 to see the opening of the Trustees 120th property, the Brickyard Reservation, accessible via a mile and a half hike through the Menemsha Hills! “The brickyard was one of the largest brick making operations in New England in the 19th century. At its height, it was producing around 800,000 bricks a year, which was pretty significant for its time,” Hart explains, “It was a large industrial site, with a mill powered by the roaring brook, which runs through the property. But for almost 100 years, it was buried under the overgrowth. We were able to clear it out this spring and do a thorough archeological review of the site. It will be open to the public in May.”
The FARM Institute
Visiting Martha’s Vineyard and don’t want to go to the beach? Looking for something hands-on and educational? Check out The FARM Institute at Katama Farms, the Trustees’ first working farm on Martha’s Vineyard. With a history dating back to the Native Americans and European settlers, the 162-acre farm was almost turned into a subdivision in the 70s until a group of locals stepped in to save it. In 2005, Katama Farms became the headquarters for the FARM Institute. While Katama Farms is owned by the town, the Institute has been managed by the Trustees since 2016. Created to educate kids and teach them about where their food comes from, the Institute is home to cattle, sheep, turkeys and chickens. “We have a summer farm camp for kids that’s been wildly successful. Our mission is to celebrate the food cycle and to teach kids where their food comes from, and we talk about themes of sustainable agriculture,” says Hart. “One of our campers took the knowledge back home with her and started a rooftop vegetable garden at her school in Rhode Island.”
Taking farm to table to the extreme, the Institute provides the public with the meat and produce from the farm. “We completed a teaching kitchen last spring at the Institute which provides us with a year-round space to provide some cooking classes, demos and farm to table dinners,” explains Hart. If you can’t make it to a demo or dinner, the farm has its meat products available for purchase on site, as well as at the West Tisbury Farmers Market and at Cronig’s Market. If you are just looking to see the Farm and explore the property, two trails allow for visitors to walk along the pastures and see the animals.
As for the goals of the Trustees on the Islands, Hart says “We want to encourage a love of the outdoors, especially when we engage our youth. We’re living in a country now where the average child will get 7 hours of screen time per day and we want to help reverse that. We want kids to be out in nature, to be inspired by nature and ultimately find themselves in nature. That’s the power of nature.”
For more information, make sure to visit online at thetrustees.org and in person at any of their over 100 properties across Massachusetts.
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