New farms on the block

Chilmark welcomes Milkweed Farm and Loon Farm.

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Mallory Watts, left, and Jackie Solomito run Milkweed Farm in Chilmark.—Courtesy Milkweed Farm

I went to the first Wednesday Farmers Market to get Lydia Fischer of Beetlebung Farm’s perfect slender asparagus, and found two new farms in attendance: Loon Farm and Milkweed Farm.

Loon Farm’s owners Lauren “Moxie” and David Ginsberg moved here from Los Angeles (where she grew up) five years ago. Moxie had started coming to the Vineyard when she was in her late 20s, and fell in love with it, she says. She is a physician, and started working at a summer position at the hospital and was offered a full-time position as an internist in 2013. A year ago, Moxie and David moved from Aquinnah to Menemsha. “I always had a fantasy about farming,” she says, “and only began last October.” She says her husband is a “connoisseur of farmer’s markets and food around the world.”

David and Moxie Ginsberg of Loon Farm. —Courtesy Moxie Ginsberg

Working with her at the farm and the West Tisbury Farmers Market is Gabriella Camillieri, who many may know for her clothing line and stained glass at the Artisans Fair. Camillieri had just finished her job with the Wampanoag Tribe when she heard Loon Farm needed help with their gardens, and here they are. I looked around at their offerings — edible flowers, assorted greens, beautiful fresh herbs, and a microgreens project that includes broccoli and Purple Sango radish (both of which I bought, tried, and loved), a healthy assortment of garlic scapes, and more vegetables coming soon. Presently they are at work building a greenhouse to extend their growing season and get an earlier start. For now you’ll be able to find them at the Wednesday Farmers Market and on Instagram @LoonFarm.

At the other end of the Farmers Market is Milkweed Farm, which has taken over Quanaimes Gardens and is run by Mallory Watts, founder (originally from Michigan), and Jackie Solomito (originally from Long Island’s North Fork). These young ladies moved to the Island just this past March. They met in Westchester, at New York’s Manhattanville College, as members of the ice hockey team, and soon became best friends, though Watts transferred and graduated from the University of Michigan. For the past seven years they’ve stayed in touch. Watts, who was living in New York City, came to Martha’s Vineyard because her boss owned property here, and then connected with Quanaimes Gardens, which had been run by Jamie Tara O’Gorman, the gleaning program leader for Island Grown Initiative. The timing was perfect. O’Gorman was ready to retire from running the CSA she had operated since 2013. The ladies tell me, “It’s a long odd story” of how they got here, but the short version works.

The land they’re farming was grass when they started this year, and they’ve created 60 planting beds. Watts says she was premed in college, and always interested in health — not so much medicine as food health, so she wanted to focus on growing. She received a Farm Intensive Certificate from the Farm School NYC after attending a seven-month program in Brooklyn, where they worked an acre of land outside Winthrop High School in Crown Heights. She also “wwoofed” (Worldwide Organic Farming) in Vermont during college. Solomito admits, “I don’t have very much farming background, but my family owned a landscape construction and design company, and we were closely connected to the farms nearby. So here I try to do the muscle, and she [Watts] does the brains.”

In unison, and beaming smiles, they both say, “It’s a good team.” Milkweed Farm will be at Wednesday Farmers Markets in West Tisbury and the Sunday Oak Bluffs Open Market through October. They are also offering weekly produce boxes, which can be picked up at their farm stand at 142 Quenames Road or delivered (up-Island only). Email mallory@milkweedfarm-chilmark.com or call 248-670-8323.