To the Editor:
It is wonderful news to hear that the immediate threat to Thimble Farm has eased, and that it will perhaps be saved in perpetuity for productive agriculture. It has been a cliffhanger. Ownership will give Island Grown Initiative a chance to perfect the problematic agricultural restriction (“APR”) so that there is no high-end private horse farm or Christmas tree farm in its future, both allowed by the definition of agriculture in the existing, vintage APR that the Land Bank purchased from Bud Moskow more than a decade ago. Strengthening the APR by prohibiting those non-food production uses would be a very important first step in bringing the APR into conformity with those reviewed and approved by the Commonwealth’s food and agriculture department.
In the MV Times editorial lauding the sale, a number of names were listed as having participated in saving the farm. Unfortunately the list, while honoring the very real accomplishments of many who have been recently involved, ignored, glossed over, or left out the many hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars contributed by individuals and nonprofit organizations over the past decade to preserve this very productive farm with its more than 40 acres of valuable but vulnerable agricultural soils in three towns, plus greenhouses and farm buildings.
At the risk of compounding the errors of omission, and with my apologies to those who have been missed — you will know who you are and how valuable your contributions of time, money, blood, sweat, and tears have been — there are some additional names. Most, if not all, have been involved in this effort for many years.
From the private conservation organizations, Adam Moore of Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation, Brendan O’Neill of the Vineyard Conservation Society, Jon Previant of The FARM Institute; the MV Agricultural Society which funded the consulting work by Jim Oldham, who reviewed and recommended various very impressive strategies, with Ag Society leadership provided by Dale McClure, Glenn Hearn, and Trip Barnes; Rob Kendall, who worked tirelessly as a private individual and in his professional capacity as a land planner and broker; Penny Uhlendorf and Alice Early of the Whippoorwill Farm CSA, who spearheaded last summer’s Vineyard Farm Project initiative, which also included participation from Philippe Jordi from IHT and members of the public; various town boards and committees from West Tisbury, Tisbury, and Oak Bluffs; the town Land Bank advisory boards and the central board; and of course Andrew Woodruff, who had the original vision for farming once the Moskows sold Thimble Farm, and who has put in more time and effort than anyone will ever know.
So thanks to all, but particularly to those who have been in the project from the beginning — whichever beginning you prefer.
Virginia Crowell Jones