Martha’s Vineyard is known for its thousands of acres of untouched, undeveloped, conserved land across all six towns. No matter where you are, there’s a healthy dose of nature’s medicine on a nearby trail, farm, sanctuary, or refuge. The lands are preserved and protected by conservation groups like Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation, a public charity that relies on the generosity of donors. On Monday, July 16, about 480 of those donors gathered under a white tent with twinkling lights for the annual Sheriff’s Meadow Summer Benefit.
Landowners Mike and Lisa MacKenty hosted the event at their secluded property on Old Farms Trail in Edgartown. The landscape overlooks the Edgartown Great Pond from the shores of Wintucket Cove. There’s not a neighbor in sight. The adjoining 130 acres of land was conserved through the efforts of Mike MacKenty’s father, John MacKenty, in 1981, when he put a conservation restriction on the land. Attendees dressed in Island-elegant attire for this annual fundraising gala.
Sheriff’s Meadow executive director Adam Moore thanked everyone for their support in his opening remarks, recognizing a shared vision in keeping Martha’s Vineyard’s lands protected. The Summer Benefit is one of Sheriff’s Meadow’s most significant fundraisers, bringing in about half a million dollars through sponsorships and ticket sales.
Sheriff’s Meadow maintains 3,000 acres of land, children’s education programs, land leased to local farms, protection of birds, and miles and miles of public trails. A new app, TrailsMV, is among the highlighted accomplishments of Sheriff’s Meadow over the past year.
“One day, not too long ago, I was hiking deep in the woods with Alan Rappaport,” Moore said in his opening remarks. “We were looking for an old ancient trail to get to Brooks Preserve, and we got a little bit lost. Not a lot lost, just a little, but I learned that Alan really doesn’t like being a little bit lost … We thought, Wouldn’t it be great if there was an app for this?”
Sheriff’s Meadow launched TrailsMV in early May. The app is a collaboration between all Island conservation groups. It uses GPS signal, so no cell service is required, to show you where you are and where you’re going, and will soon be able to tell you where you’ve been. “I think there’s a lot we can do for trails in the next five years,” Moore said.
Among other Sheriff’s Meadow accomplishments was creating a second access point for the “beloved” Cedar Tree Neck Sanctuary called Taylor Gate trailhead, improving the quality and consistency of signage, and removing invasive species throughout Sheriff’s Meadow properties. Sheriff’s Meadow foundation stewardship has increased threefold, and is now accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission. The Mayhew-Hancock Mitchell house was also restored, and will serve as an educational building in the future.
Will Shafroth, president and CEO of the National Parks Foundation, was in attendance at Monday’s gala.
“I always thought of the national parks as our little brother in conservation,” Sheriff’s Meadow president Brien O’Brien laughed. “Our job is not only to take care of the lands of this Island, but also take care of the community on the lands of this Island.”
O’Brien recognized veteran board members Samme Thompson and Jennifer Blum for their service on the Sheriff’s Meadow board for 10 years.
“We’ve witnessed milestones of accomplishments thanks to 10 solid years of leadership,” Thompson said. “The board of directors wishes to present a gift of recognition to Adam Moore, for his accomplishments and achievements to Sheriff’s Meadow, and Martha’s Vineyard conservation.”
The board awarded Moore with the cream of the crop — an Allen Whiting painting.
“This is a night of thanks,” O’Brien said. “Next time you’re out on the trails, take a moment to appreciate nature’s preservation.”
The event was catered by Buckley’s Gourmet Catering, offering a delicious spread of appetizers and dinner, including herb-roasted leg of lamb, Mediterranean spiced rubbed chicken, spanakopita, wild rice pilaf, grilled veggies, and Greek salad. For dessert, Buckley’s served baklava, and Greek custard with a limoncello cordial.
For more information on Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation, visit sheriffsmeadow.org.