Thimble Farm will continue to be a farm, we learn this week, because of a combination of a generous private owner and generous friends of the Island Grown Initiative (IGI). It’s an enormous example of philanthropic commitment to Martha’s Vineyard agriculture and, on the part of IGI volunteers, an unflinching commitment to making Island agriculture serve the appetites of residents, year-round and part-time.
Eric Grubman, a National Football League executive and an extremely patient landowner, has extended himself to make possible the transfer of his 37 acres to IGI. To make the transfer possible, Chilmark seasonal residents Allan and Shelley Holt joined his durable support of Island agriculture, in the end.
Sarah McKay, IGI president, called the gift a blessing, and indeed it is. But, it is a blessing whose benefits extend through IGI to all of us and to our seasonal neighbors and friends.
This is a farm property that has enjoyed considerable thoughtful and farsighted investment over two decades. Bencion Moskow committed his acreage to development of hydroponic agriculture, concentrating on tomatoes and berries that, he thought, could be raised and sold successfully in the small Vineyard market. His efforts gave way to the Whippoorwill Farm cooperative that matched Island growers with residents who wanted Island grown produce. The determination and the leadership of the IGI volunteers promises that a new business plan for success, and all the hard work and sweat investment that will be required for that success, will be made available.
IGI’s track record, its broad array of programs — including its involvement in school food service, in food processing, in gleaning agricultural products that have not been marketed, in supporting the beekeeping and pollination efforts — and its determined leaders have made an impressive start on future accomplishments.
Hats off to Ms. McKay, Steve Bernier, Lea Delacour, Randi Baird, Noli Taylor, Richard Andre, Jefferson Munroe, Jamie O’Gorman, Hara Dretaki, Mary Kenworth, Melinda Defeo, Simon Athearn, Rebecca Miller, and Emily Palmer — their diligence and industry, and that of so many others, has earned the mullti-million dollar commitment from Mr. Grubman and the Holts.
The end of Mr. Grubman’s five-year ownership of Thimble Farm, which he bought for $2.45 million, and of efforts over several years by Island farmers and supporters to raise the money to buy the property from Mr. Grubman mean, as endings often do, a fresh start.