West Tisbury: Donnie Mills and Hillside Farm


Many of us remember when Donnie Mills ran Hillside Farm in North Tisbury. He opened for the season every year on Palm Sunday, as all the garden centers did. It was fun to walk through the endless greenhouses, to see plants coming up in seed trays and pots, to get to the end to find Donnie’s mother, Esther Mills, serving cookies she had baked and making sure everyone went home with a potted-up marigold seedling. There were sacks of seed potatoes and onion sets in one of the greenhouses, ready for early planting.

Outside, Donnie presided over the side yard, where he sold pots of perennials and flats of annuals. Mike and I always bought our impatiens there. Our rhubarb came from plants Donnie had dug from his own huge patch.

After Donnie married Kristen Kinser, she and their daughter, Kendra Mills, became a familiar sight in the garden and farm stand. I have been watching this year as Kendra, now grown, and her mom reopened the stand as Hillside Farm once again, with help from Kendra’s friend, Moses Sukin. The building has been repainted a pretty cream and blue, and the sign is hanging on its roadside post. There are crates of vegetables, fruit, and flowers on the porch, and more inside. It’s a bit fancier and more artistically arranged than anything Donnie would have done, but as warm and friendly as it was when he ran the show. It’s definitely nice to see the next generation of farmers continuing in their parents’ footsteps. The stand is closed on Monday; open 8 to 3 on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday; 8 to 6 Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Harriet Bernstein is excited that her whole family will be arriving for a reunion this weekend. She is most excited that her 1½-year-old grand-nephew, her beloved “Baby Sy,” will be here, his second visit to the Vineyard. Harriet bought a brick in the library walk for him, and she can’t wait to show it to him.

Max Decker will open his show at the Field Gallery this Sunday afternoon. His new paintings are landscapes from around the Island, many of which feature buildings, a new focus in his work.

The All-Island Art Show will be held on Monday, August 7, at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs. All artists are invited to participate. Registration is that morning from 8:30 to 10 am. Sign up at mvcma.org or call 508-693-0525. The rain date is Tuesday, August 8.

The Friends of the West Tisbury Library Book Sale is over, and was a huge success. “Best ever,” said Susan Wasserman. I went over earlier to see how things had gone, and came home with a big box and two big bags of books. I had only planned to talk with Susan for a moment and rush back home to finish this column. I’ll just say that I was there for more than a few minutes.

At the library this week:

Saturday, August 5, 4 to 5 pm, a reception for the opening of an art exhibition of work by Albert Alcalay and Tommaso Bertini. At 6:30 pm, Dr. Enid Haller will speak about “Chronic Lyme Disease,” with a focus on diagnosis and treatment, including a new treatment called hyperthermia, and the Klinik St. Georg Treatment Center in Germany.

Monday, August 7, 11:30 am, Kanta Lipsky’s Balance Workshop. At 6:30 pm, free movies for families and teens/tweens. From 7 to 8 pm, the monthly drop-in Seed Library Orientation.

Tuesday, August 8, 3:30 pm, Emily Histen’s outdoor yoga class for kids ages 4 to 6. Sign-up is required: 508-693-3366. At 4 pm, a book talk by Peter Brannen. His new book is “The Ends of the World.” At 7:30 pm, Tuesdays at Twilight at the Grange with hypnotist Nat Lawson. Doors open at 7 pm. Tickets are available at the library; $15 adults, $7 kids under 12. The Art Cliff Diner food truck will be serving dinner outside from 6 to 8 pm.

Wednesday, August 9, 4 pm, a sign language story time on the porch with Meghan Fister. Also at 4, Valentine Estabrook will have a Space Art painting workshop for ages 12 to 17. Sign up at the library: 508-693-3366.

Thursday, August 10, 5 pm, an Outdoor Rock Concert for Kids with Jellybone Rivers and the Maniacs of the Heart. Bring a blanket or beach chair to sit on and a picnic to eat. The concert will be moved inside in case of rain.

The West Tisbury Church will hold its Peach Festival next Saturday, August 12, noon to 4 pm. More details next week.

Congratulations to Edgartown’s Federated Church, which is celebrating its 375th year. The Reverend David G. Berube will begin preaching at this Sunday’s services. On Monday, August 7, at 7 pm, a free presentation of “For All the Saints,” a historical pageant by Island historian E. St. John Villard, with the choir under the direction of Peter Boak. Call for information: 508-627-4421.

Mike and I were so sad to learn that Mari Harman died last week. We met Mrs. Harman when we adopted her golden retriever, Nanuk. If you read the obituary in last week’s paper, you would know that Mrs. Harman had a particular fondness for naughty children and dogs, and her/our Nanuk fit right into that mold. I used to make sure that I wrote about Nanuk and her adventures regularly, knowing Mrs. Harman loved reading about her.

Nanuk loved Mrs. Harman, too. Even though she is thoroughly settled in with Mike and me, and Talley and Nelson, she never forgot Mrs. Harman. The last time Mike took her over for a visit, Nanuk ran up the hallway into the bedroom and jumped right up on Mrs. Harman’s bed. It wasn’t allowed when they lived together, but it made for a joyous reunion and a lot of laughter. Nanuk would always sit quietly by Mrs. Harman’s feet whenever they visited, either here or in Edgartown. I always teased her and said she couldn’t have Nanuk back. We will all miss her.