Good Taste: Martha’s Vineyard gardens of eating

Good Taste: Martha’s Vineyard gardens of eating

Scott Jones and Kell Hicklin, owners of Lambert's Cove, with a few new members of their family. — Kelsey Perrett

Imagine waking up on a summer morning to the clucks of chickens and the bleats of baby goats, walking through sunlit gardens to the chicken coop, collecting freshly laid eggs, and delivering them to the kitchen, where they are prepared into an omelet, with fresh herbs and veggies, just for you. It’s not some dream of your great Aunt Mabel’s farm in West Virginia, it’s now a reality at the recently renamed Lambert’s Cove Inn, Farm, and Restaurant in West Tisbury.

Nathan Gould, harvesting herbs from one of the Harborview's 11 gardens.
Nathan Gould, harvesting herbs from one of the Harborview’s 11 gardens.

Capitalizing on the farm-to-table dining trent, Lambert’s Cove Inn proprietors Scott Jones and Kell Hicklin have taken advantage of their spacious seven and a half West Tisbury acres, and converted as much as possible into farm and garden space. Their property now includes an herb garden, several greens and vegetable beds, a coop of 50 chickens, and two (unbelievably cute and friendly) baby goats, Eva and Zsa Zsa, who are expected to start producing milk for cheese next year.

“It’s something we’ve wanted to do for a while,” Mr. Jones said of the endeavor. “We’ve just been looking for someone to help us.” When they hired chef James McDonough, formerly of the Beach Plum Inn, to take over the kitchen last season, the pieces fell into place. Mr. McDonough brought in Chris Riger as a farm and garden manager, and got planting. “We let the kitchen dictate what we planted, based on James’s menu for each season,” Mr. Jones said.

Now, the chickens are producing 35 to 40 eggs daily. Herbs and spinach have popped up, and other produce such as micro-greens, tomatoes, and berries are growing swiftly. Kitchen waste is composted and cycled back into the gardens. A greenhouse is in the works to get a head start for next season. “Anything you see on the menu that can be grown here is being grown here,” Mr. Jones said. “What we can’t produce, we buy from local farms.”

Lambert's Cove's two baby goats will start producing milk and cheese next year.
Lambert’s Cove’s two baby goats will start producing milk and cheese next year.

“It’s been incredible having fresh eggs, the baby spinach, the herbs,” Mr. McDonough said. “I can’t wait for the strawberries.” And the best part is: “it’s just getting going.”

In other farm-to-table news, 7a Foods has moved their farm from Aquinnah, closer to their sandwich shop and bakery in West Tisbury. “We’re starting from square one,” chef and owner Daniel Sauer said. “I’m still assessing the space and the soil, and it will probably be a while before we get anything in the ground.” That doesn’t mean 7a won’t be offering fresh and local foods this summer. Right now they are offering an Island Grown Salad featuring lettuce and cherry tomatoes from Thimble Farm, bok-choy from North Tabor, hard-boiled eggs from The Grey Barn, and radishes and herbs from Morning Glory. One dollar of every salad sold benefits Island Grown Schools.

Chef Chris Fischer has been bringing products from the five acres of Beetlebung Farm to the table at The Beach Plum Inn and Restaurant for years. The most recent harvest to make it to the menu is wild asparagus. Mr. Fischer has also started offering weekly recipe baskets: featuring Beetlebung Farm’s latest produce and other local ingredients with preparation instructions designed by the chef himself. Next week, it’s Beetlebung Farm leg of lamb marinated in Mermaid Farm yogurt, chickpea and herb salad, collard greens, and a spinach salad. So, if you don’t feel like putting pants on, you can bring the farm to your home table. The recipe serves four, though, so for the sake of your company, please reconsider those pants.

Mary Kenworth, owner of State Road Restaurant in West Tisbury, says their 3,000 square feet of gardens are delivering herbs and greens already. “Last night, I had the swordfish with our Swiss chard and romesco sauce,” Ms. Kenworth said. “It was delicious.” Her kitchen staff oversees the planting and harvesting of the three gardens on the West Tisbury property, but “it really is a team effort.” Using food from their own garden “speaks to our mission,” she said. “That’s using what’s most local, travels the least distance, requires the least processing, and tastes the freshest. It doesn’t get any fresher than than coming up from our own soil.”

At the Scottish Bakehouse in Vineyard Haven, garden manager Zephir Plume is working hard to keep their garden producing for the long haul. Ms. Plume says she has been harvesting Russian red baby kale for the last month, and turnips will turn up this week. The chefs at the Bakehouse are preparing the kale underneath a pesto chicken with mozzarella and tomato salad. “A lot of what we grow is ingredients they either use regularly in the kitchen, or that can be canned,” she said. “I know our chef is very excited about the cherry peppers. We have about 200 plants, and she has very big plans for them.” Also look out for rhubarb, strawberries, and blueberries later this season.

Henry’s Bar and Water Street at the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown are reaping the bounty from the 11 raised garden beds started last season by Harbor View’s Executive Chef Nathan Gould and Jennie Slossberg of Garden Angels. Several types of edible flowers and herbs are growing, along with fennel, four types of heirloom tomatoes, a few breeds of chile peppers, parsnips, carrots, spring peas, and a full bed of strawberries.

Chef Gould says right now, he is primarily taking advantage of the “fun clipping greens,” the flowers, herbs, and other garnishes that add flare to a salad. He is looking forward to “having summer in full effect” when the tomatoes and strawberries flourish. Mr. Gould says the tomatoes make a delicious jam to serve with a cheese plate, while strawberries, which coincide with striped bass season, pair well with a crudo or sashimi with smoked salt and olive oil. “It’s exciting for any chef to try their hand in gardening,” he said. “It provides day-to-day inspiration, and allows for creativity in the menu, based on what’s growing.”