Real Estate


Oct. 20, Olivia Miles, widow and one of the beneficiaries of the estate Quentin Miles, sold her share in a lot on West Basin Rd. to the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank Commission for $853.92.

Oct. 22, Diane McManus Jensen sold Unit 2, 3 Aquinnah Circle, to Bruce Levkoff and Joan Goodman, trustees of JSST Realty Trust, for $445,000.


Oct. 23, Vineyard QPRT LLC sold 5 Redwing Lane to Keith L. and Deborah A. Tully for $595,000.


Oct. 20, Off Center Theatre Inc. sold 101 Fourth St. North to Justin C. Lavigne for $175,001.

Oct. 22, Thomas F. Prendergast and Ann Heron sold 13 Martha’s Rd. to Melanie Rankow Prescott for $660,000.

Oct. 24, Peter K. Behnke sold 8 Pierce Lane to Jeffrey S. and Jennifer Blecher for $1,700,000.

Oct. 24, Douglas J. Wilds sold 48 West Tisbury Rd. to Ralston Francis and Mavis Hutchinson Sinclair for $355,000.

Oak Bluffs

Oct. 21, Earl W. and Rosemary S. Finley sold Lot 8, Tia Anna Lane to Piotr Kornalski for $265,000.


Oct. 22, Sheila A. Decosta and Diane M. Estrella sold 48 Hvoslef Way to Kim M. Baptiste for $333,333.33.

West Tisbury

Oct. 23, Mason T. Peltz, trustee of Lambert’s Cove Realty Trust, sold 285A, 279, 281 and 283 Lambert’s Cove Rd. to Sandhurst MV LLC for $3,100,000.

Oct. 24, Craig Elkind and Christine Lai sold 18 South Pond Rd. to John P. and Una M. Doddy for $1,600,000.

Chestnuts, once abundant, may once again feature prominently in American forests. —Photo by Susan Safford

Full-blown autumn overtakes the Island. Watch for deer while driving, especially at dusk and dawn.

This year the trees are coloring beautifully! As they leach chlorophyll at varying rates it is interesting to observe differing species emerging individually from the general green backdrop. In late summer it is easy to pick out the beetlebung trees, as they begin to redden long before any other healthy trees do, and most people can identify a maple or clump of sumac, both of which glow dramatically. Now, the hickories are golden, the sassafras “mittens” show clearly when they are apricot and pink, and many white oaks possess a sultry maroon coloration.

If you want to become more aware of trees, the autumn season is a good opportunity to pick up on characteristics and differences. The ID’d specimens at Polly Hill Arboretum are also a good place to start, for those who are developing an interest in trees.

Green beans

With apologies to container gardeners, for whom bush beans might be a better choice, if you can grow only one green bean, grow pole bean ‘Fortex.’ It is a filet-type bean of great length and quality. My row of ‘Fortex’ has been bearing heavily since mid-July and as of late-October is still yielding long, tasty beans, sweet and brittle.

In small gardens where space is at a premium, up is the way to go. Having a larger garden, I have room for an entire row of poles supporting three different varieties of pole beans. One teepee should suffice in gardens where that is not possible.

The marketed life

We live in an age of marketing, which manipulates our perceptions of how to do things in many arenas, gardening not excepted. The images that are propelled directly into our brains through multi-media, and advertising of “products for better living,” reinforce all sorts of green industry fallacies and a culture of Lookism — empty form over function.

To name just a few easy targets: dyed mulch (let’s not even mention synthetic mulches); tree mutilation through incorrect notions of pruning; well-intentioned but unthinking spraying schedules to kill life-forms of all kinds; and the “chem-lawn” approach to lawn perfection.

It is not only in the garden: misleading perceptions of what constitutes good order in the home also contribute to our delusions. Many households contain arsenals of “good housekeeping” products — under the sink, in the laundry, in the basement — which are harmful to the humans and pets within, maybe more so than to the products’ ostensible targets.

Chestnut season redux

There is an American tree that is unlikely to be identified on Martha’s Vineyard this autumn. Islanders — nor, for that matter, most mainlanders — are not familiar with the American chestnut, the once common, majestic tree was virtually wiped out by a devastating blight over a century ago.

Historically, the tree and the nut have been a rich food and lumber resource, going back to prehistoric times, and, along with other nut harvests, autumn is chestnut season.

Almost everything one reads about the towering American species contains the phrase “the redwood of the Eastern forest.” What is known as the Chestnut Ecosystem (chestnut trees, perhaps as many as 10 million, being the foundation species), supported bear, elk, squirrel, deer, raccoon, mice, wild turkey, and enormous flocks of passenger pigeons, as well as the human populations of their range.

Although it will be a while before a blight-resistant American chestnut (Castanea dentata) returns to our landscape and diet, it is likely to happen in our lifetime, and maybe much sooner. Work to breed, cross, and re-breed a resistant tree is on-going and The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF), reports optimistic developments. An article in the summer 2014 issue of the MOFGA Journal quotes TACF’s chief scientist, Fred Hebard: “We are on the verge of really restoring the species.” To combat blight, TACF hybridized American with Chinese chestnuts, the species that originally spread the blight and which has resistance to it.

The resulting progeny were then successively back-crossed until they became 15/16ths American. But every backcross, although necessary to recover desirable American traits, also reintroduces the genes for blight susceptibility from the American parent. In order to remove those genes, the next steps at TACF were intercrosses. In the first intercross, the most blight-resistant 15/16ths American trees were crossed with other blight-resistant 15/16ths American trees. Again, only resistant seedlings are saved.

It is painstaking work, but what is at stake is the restoration of an entire ecosystem, something that has never been previously attempted! The volunteer-run TACF, a non-profit, has racked up an inspiring record in its 30 years of existence. One result of the effort is the Restoration Chestnut 1.0 trees, currently being grown in TACF orchards across the original chestnut range. Another ambitious program is using blight-resistant chestnuts to restore the ravaged areas of mountaintop removal and strip mining throughout Appalachia.

Due to their unfamiliarity in our foodscape, what to do with chestnuts is a question. To shell, cut an X in the flat side of the nut with a paring knife or pointed scissors. Place in water to cover and bring to boil for about eight minutes. Drain a few at a time and while still warm, peel off the outer husk and inner membrane. Cut away wormy or discolored parts. At this point the nuts may be frozen; added to seasonal dishes, such as Brussels sprouts with bacon or sausage and chestnuts; or turned into puree for baking or desserts. Chestnut flour also offers an alternative for gluten sensitivities.

To puree, cover shelled chestnuts with milk or fresh water, and simmer until they are tender. Drain and mash with a potato masher or ricer, and then use as directed in recipes such as Mont Blanc or chestnut cookies.


Oct. 15, Peter O’Donnell, Jr. and Edith Jones O’Donnell, trustee of the Peter O’Donnell, Jr. and Edith Jones O’Donnell 2013 Management Trust, sold 4 Bayberry Lane and a lot on Bayberry Lane to F. Lane Heard, 3rd a/k/a Frank Lane Heard, 3rd, and Margaret Ann Bauer for $1,225,000.


Oct. 14, Margaret Louise Wheeler, a/k/a Margaret L. Wheeler, Douglas H. Evans, executors under the Will of Barbra J. Green, sold 33 Highmark to Margaret L. Wheeler for $1,128,000.

Oct. 17, Andrew Marvel, Jr. and Christine M. Hotarek sold 35 Cranberry Hill Rd. to Mark M. Christopher, trustee of Lighthouse Home Trust, for $2,100,000.


Oct. 14, Heir Castle II LLC sold 23 Thayer St. to Neuhoff Realty LLC for $2,900,000.

Oct. 15, Thomas Chamberlain, trustee of Chamberlain Realty Trust, sold 122 South Water St. to 122 South Water Street LLC for $1,500,000.

Oct. 16, Edgartown Light LLC sold 157 Boulevard to Curtis C. Johnson, Jr. and Donna A. Johnson for $1,950,000.

Oct. 16, John Bresnehan, Jr. sold 80 Pine St. to Elisa Valente and Gabriele De Simone for $766,000.

Oak Bluffs

Oct. 14, SDS Financial Group LLC, holder of a mortgage from William Joseph Bernard to James Cooper grants by foreclosure deed 25 Franklin Avenue to 25 Franklin Avenue LLC for $20,000.

Oct. 16, Robert P. Goldman and Michelle M. Porter, trustees of the Betty L. Singer 1994 Trust, Judith S. Swartz, Georgia Singer and David A. Singer as beneficiaries of said trust, and Janet Z. Rome and Judith S. Swartz as Personal Representatives of the will and estate of Barbara L. Singer, sold 438 County Rd. to Cheryl Hall for $400,000.

Oct. 17, Kerry Quinlan-Potter and William H. Potter sold 30 Prospect Ave. to Andrew and Ruth Levy for $500,000.


Oct. 15, Raymond C. and Mary L. Snell, trustees of Point Pasture Real Estate Trust sold Unit 7, 60 Beach Road to Ralph F. Robinson, Jr. for $149,000.

West Tisbury

Oct. 15, Richard Gale, personal representative of the estate of Jane C. Baker, individually, Lynne G. Silva, individually, Raymond Alan Gale, individually, and Leigh Gale a/k/a Leigh Reynolds, individually, sold 25 Longview Rd. to Lynnlee Gale and John H. Bunker, Jr. for $387,500.

The IHT plans to replace this dilapidated house with a six bedroom affordable apartment building. —File photo by Michael Cummo

The Tisbury zoning board of appeals (ZBA) unanimously approved a six-unit affordable rental apartment building on Water Street at a hearing on Friday. The written decision on a comprehensive permit for the Island Housing Trust’s (IHT) project, with conditions, is expected to be finalized this week.

The initial design proposal included no onsite parking, other than a temporary parking spot for deliveries, pickups, and drop-offs. After an almost two-hour discussion, the ZBA agreed to require two additional parking spaces, and require that IHT ensure parking be available for every apartment unit off-site, whether at the Park and Ride lot or downtown.

Tisbury offers permits for residents on William Street and Main Street in Vineyard Haven to park on side streets overnight. IHT executive director Philippe Jordi said he would ask the selectmen to extend that privilege to the Water Street apartment tenants.

If that is not an option, the cost of an annual Park and Ride lot permit, which is $50 for year-round Tisbury residents, would be included in the rent. Tenants that do not own cars would be given a credit on their lease for the cost of the permit.

In addition, the ZBA agreed to require IHT to incorporate noise and vibration mitigation measures such as triple-paned windows; design a minimum of one unit according to universal design principles to enhance accessibility; prohibit delivery of modular construction materials between Memorial Day and Labor Day; and submit a landscaping plan to the board for approval.

No rubber-stamp process

IHT began planning the Water Street project after it received a donation of an uninhabitable house and property in 2012 from Cronig’s Market owner Steve Bernier, with a deed restricting all or part of its use to affordable housing.

IHT applied for a comprehensive permit from the ZBA through Chapter 40B, a state statute that enables local Zoning Boards of Appeals to approve affordable housing developments under flexible rules if at least 20 to 25 percent of the units have long-term affordability restrictions.

The Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) reviewed IHT’s proposed Water Street affordable housing as a development of regional impact and approved it last July. Tisbury’s ZBA opened its public hearing on the project on August 14 and closed it on September 11.

The board reopened the hearing on September 23 in order to obtain new information from IHT executive director Philippe Jordi, particularly in regard to a proposed condition, that IHT downsize the project from six units to four units and how that would impact costs.

On Friday, Mr. Jordi explained that four units would make the project ineligible for state funding because a minimum of five is required for rental housing. The lack of onsite parking, however, proved to be the ZBA’s main point of contention.

ZBA chairman Jeff Kristal started the discussion by taking critics of the ZBA’s process to task. He said two people who attended the previous hearing session who were not present Friday had accosted two ZBA members afterwards about taking so long to make a decision.

“For anybody to say we don’t want affordable housing and we don’t want this project, we’re not a rubber stamp of the MVC, and if we were, we wouldn’t be here,” Mr. Kristal said. “We’ll look at it, we’ll make it better, just like the MVC does when they look over their projects, and we’ll all walk away hopefully happy, especially with a 40B.”

Vineyard Conservation Society President Richard Toole, a former MVC member, told Mr. Kristal that the way the commission handled the Water Street project’s review was a compliment to the ZBA, an acknowledgement that a local board could deal with the issues because it knows “the nitty-gritty” better than the commission.

“I think it was a unanimous vote by the commission; it went right through there,” Mr. Toole said. “The MVC said great, give it to you guys, and you’ll know what to do with it.”

The board’s ensuing discussion focused mainly on parking solutions.

“I’m okay with six [units], but I’m not okay with no parking,” Mr. Kristal said.

“I feel the same way,” board member Sue Fairbanks added.

Mr. Kristal argued that tenants would need a place to park temporarily after running errands, for example, to drop off groceries. He suggested that a planting area in front of the building could be reduced to gain space for parking.

Mr. Kristal, Ms. Fairbanks, and board members Mike Ciancio, Tony Holand, and Neal Stiller voted unanimously to close the public hearing and approve the decision with amendments as discussed, with the caveat that they would review the final language in another public session this week if required for clarification.

Public comments

Before the board’s deliberations, Mr. Kristal opened the floor to public comment. The hearing attracted some strong supporters who spoke in favor of the project, including Planning Board chairman Dan Seidman and board member Cheryl Doble, and Carl McLaurin, an Oak Bluffs resident who works for the state’s department of housing and community development.

“Even if there are any things you might not like about the lot, the greater good is we’re providing an excellent location that’s going to be easy for people to live in and meet their needs in all different ways,” Mr. Seidman said.

“Although I know some people think we’re against housing, we’re just against housing in the wrong place,” Mr. Toole said. “We think this project is in the right place. It’s smart growth. Keep new growth in town, and let rural areas stay as rural as possible.”

David Vigneault, executive director of the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority, the agency that will manage the apartment building for IHT, spoke of the current need for affordable housing, especially for households with income below 60 percent of the area median income (AMI). Mr. Vigneault said the housing authority’s wait list has a total of 63 one-person households and 60 two-person households Island-wide that could make use of the apartments. Of those, 25 one-person households and 11 two-person households are in Tisbury.

Although he did not know how many on the waiting list own cars, Mr. Vigneault said, “People live where they can and they’re pretty happy to get the rents that IHT is offering here.”

Tisbury resident Mary McManama said she was fortunate enough to find a small studio apartment she can afford with the housing authority’s help, and would love to live in one of the Water Street apartments. “I have a car but could make arrangements to keep it somewhere other than where I live, if I needed to,” she said.

“Any more cars added to Five Corners, even three, is more traffic, and traffic and the number of cars there is already a problem,” IHT chairman Richard Leonard reminded everyone. “Plenty of people indicated they’d live there without parking, and there are solutions available for them.”

The IHT plans to replace this dilapidated house with a six bedroom affordable apartment building. —File photo by Michael Cummo

Following a two-year planning, financing, and permitting process and with the end in sight, what the Island Housing Trust (IHT) thought was the light at the end of the tunnel for their affordable rental apartment project on Water Street in Vineyard Haven may be a train. IHT executive director Philippe Jordi told The Times this week that the Tisbury Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) is contemplating conditions for the project that would render the project no longer financially viable.

“To do these types of projects we need to have equal sums of money invested locally as well as on the state level,” Mr. Jordi told The Times in a phone conversation on Tuesday. “To make this feasible from the state’s perspective, we need to have at least five or more units. That’s the threshold.”

The ZBA is scheduled to meet and render a decision on a comprehensive permit at a meeting at 10 am on Friday at the town hall annex off High Point Lane. ZBA officials said the meeting time, in the morning during working hours, best accommodates the board member’s schedules.

IHT proposes to build a six-unit, two-story, 3,600-square-foot building on the site of a decrepit house adjacent to the Stop & Shop. There would be no onsite parking, other than a temporary parking spot for deliveries, pickups, and drop-offs.

IHT received site eligibility approval for the project from the state Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) last May. The Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) unanimously approved the project on July 17.

IHT is seeking a comprehensive permit from the ZBA through Chapter 40B, a state statute that enables local Zoning Boards of Appeals to approve affordable housing developments under flexible rules if at least 20 to 25 percent of the units have long-term affordability restrictions.

Tisbury’s ZBA, the last stop on the permitting trail, opened its public hearing on August 14 and closed it on September 11. At its next meeting on September 23, on the advice of lawyer Ilana Quirk, the board voted to reopen the hearing in order to obtain new information from Mr. Jordi that included additional project financial analyses to show how the conditions would impact project costs.

Ms. Quirk cautioned that if a condition or set of conditions would render the project more uneconomic, the board would need to justify whatever it was imposing with evidence of local concerns that would outweigh the regional need for affordable housing.

The ZBA agreed on a set of possible conditions that included a reduction in the number of units from six to four; adding four on-site parking spaces; mitigating vibrations from street traffic; and working with the town and neighboring property owners to install a new sidewalk to the corner of Beach Street. The board asked Mr. Jordi to provide project pro formas to show how the conditions would impact costs, and scheduled the Friday hearing to review the new information and make a decision.

Costs rise

On September 29, Mr. Jordi submitted three financial statements to the ZBA. One described the project as submitted for the original six-unit rental project to the state Department of Housing and Community Development last May. Mr. Jordi noted that the application guidelines for state funding require a five-unit minimum for rental housing projects. Building six units would also work better for modular construction, which is less expensive.

The second financial analysis was based on the proposed ZBA conditions. “The revised pro forma shows a project shortfall of $291,590 that is mainly due to the loss of state DHCD grant funding resulting from the project’s ineligibility under the attached HSF [Housing Stabilization Funding] guidelines,” Mr. Jordi said in his submission. “This budget shortfall makes the project impossible to proceed and is ‘uneconomic.'”

The third statement includes the original six-unit project, with the addition of the cost of year-round parking for the tenants at Tisbury’s park and ride lot off High Point Lane.

“The $350 annual parking permit cost per car is included in the pro forma, resulting in a $30,000 budget shortfall,” Mr. Jordi said. In regard to noise and vibration mitigation, he added that IHT plans for the building to have 9 inches of insulated walls, floors and ceilings, and triple glazed windows.

Mr. Jordi followed up the submissions with an email dated October 3 to the ZBA. “After meeting with the Island Housing Trust’s Project Development Committee this week,” he wrote, “it was determined that fewer than six apartments renders the project uneconomic; parking for more than one car within the proposed site plan is not feasible; and adding more on-site parking to an already failed traffic area is not in our tenants or the public’s best interest.”

In a phone conversation Wednesday, Mr. Jordi said he will be accompanied at Friday’s hearing by an attorney from the Lawyers Clearinghouse, an organization that matches pro bono lawyers with nonprofits and the homeless. Mr. Jordi described IHT’s options.

“In the very unfortunate situation that this is either denied or conditioned in such a way that makes the project unworkable, we have the ability to appeal through what’s called the Housing Appeals Committee, something set up specifically for the 40B process, through the State Department of Housing and Community Development,” Mr. Jordi said. “We’ve never had to do this, and we hope we never will, but it is an option if we’re forced to.”

Collaborative effort

IHT began planning the Water Street project after it received a donation of an uninhabitable house and property in 2012 from Cronig’s Market owner Steve Bernier, with a deed restricting all or part of its use to affordable housing.

IHT invited several local architects to come up with conceptual designs and held public meetings for neighboring property owners and the public. IHT also worked closely with Tisbury’s Affordable Housing Committee, Planning Board, Historic Commission, and building department to come up with the preferred design.

To gauge the amount of interest in the Water Street apartments, IHT conducted a survey of nearly 100 one- and two-person households on the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority’s rental wait list.

“The overwhelming majority (66 percent) of those who responded were very interested in renting in downtown Vineyard Haven at the proposed Water Street apartments with no on-site parking, 5 percent were somewhat interested, and 29 percent were not interested,” Mr. Jordi said in an email dated October 3 responding to questions from the ZBA.

The Barnes-Klaunig family at Grey Barn.

Michael Barnes (the farm manager at Grey Barn) and his partner Lindsay Klaunig (the cheesemaker) wanted their son Elias to grow up "surrounded by animals and nature." So far, so good. —Photo by Lisa Vanderhoop

As I walked out of the farmstand at Grey Barn after picking up some milk, I couldn’t stop staring at a rugged man holding his joyous naked son in his hands. He carefully placed him down in the grass to crawl around with a small gaggle of geese. I went over and introduced myself to Michael, Lindsay, and Elias. It has been six months since Michael Barnes moved to Martha’s Vineyard in April to take over as the new farm manager at The Grey Barn in Chilmark. He moved here with Lindsay Klaunig, his partner in life, and their newborn son, Elias. I ask if he grew up on a farm and Michael says, “I grew up all over the place.” He tells me, “I was born in Oklahoma, moved to New Mexico and lived there about ten years (through high school in Santa Fe), and moved to Oregon for community college in Bend and stayed there a couple years after that.” Despite not living on a farm growing up, Michael and his family grew vegetables and raised chickens (for meat) in the backyard, and always composted.

Elias at home with the ducks at Grey Barn. – photo by Valerie Sonnenthal
Elias at home with the ducks at Grey Barn. – photo by Valerie Sonnenthal

At age 35, after completing an undergraduate education at Colorado State University, and stints on various farms around the West, Michael rode his bicycle across the country and found a farm in Indiana that he would return to, eventually meeting Lindsay, who came on board as the farm’s cheesemaker. The couple moved to Idaho, then, after Elias’s birth, found themselves working 80 hours a week, with no days off, and realized they needed to make a change. They tell me they “started thinking about the best scenarios for Elias to grow up in, and began looking for a safe, clean outdoor environment surrounded by animals and nature.” Michael saw the job at Grey Barn on Martha’s Vineyard on an agricultural jobs website; deciding to take the job was an easy decision.

Michael oversees 70 acres of grazing and hay, of which 20 acres will be certified organic next year. Grey Barn has 31 adult milk cows grazing, 4 beef cows, and raises 50 – 60 hogs on whey, a cheese by-product, all sold locally. Michael tells me, “One of the reasons I chose this job is I like diverse farms — poly-cultural layered agriculture that maximizes all waste streams on the farm.”

Michael takes a break to have lunch with Lindsay and Elias. –Photo by Lisa Vanderhoop
Michael takes a break to have lunch with Lindsay and Elias. –Photo by Lisa Vanderhoop

A typical day on the farm for Michael starts with a 5:30 am alarm. He’ll have a quick breakfast, then head out to stock the farm store with milk, then move and feed the chickens. Then he sets up the milking parlor to milk the cows, heads out to move the cows from the field up to the parlor and by 7:15, he’s milking them in the parlor.  By 9:30 am Michael, he’s finished milking and cleaning the milk house. Next he feeds the pigs, checks on all of the animals, their water and fencing. Then it’s time to look at the previous day’s grazing to make sure the cows are getting the right amount of food from the fields. He’ll take down fencing from the previous day’s paddocks and set up new paddocks for the milking and dry cow herd. The rest of of the morning, until lunchtime, is focused on a small task to-do list that usually includes fixing something broken — a constant farm reality. After lunch with Lindsay and Elias, he will finish up as much as he can on his list, order materials, and do inventory. Around 2:00 pm it’s time to wash bottles for milk, feed and water the pigs again, collect eggs, set up the milking parlor, get the cows and milk around 4:15 pm. After cleaning the parlor and milk house, moving the cows and feeding the chickens, Michael can call it a day.

With the driest September on record in 57 years, Michael has had to organize a rotation and “extend the season a little bit. The animals are back on pasture, but that’ll all change in a week.” He admits that he is more at home now, even though he has not had much time to explore or get off the farm yet. Michael takes another call from the driver of 70-foot-long semi on its way to deliver hay, and I let him get on with his pressing duties.

Lindsay is one of the most relaxed new mothers I have ever met. She grew up in suburban Indianapolis and tells me she tried Indiana University for a year and then “went out to Washington state to pick blueberries on a whim through WWOOF [World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms].” When the season was over she “got a job flipping cheese” and loved it. The next year through WWOOF she took an apprenticeship in New Jersey, making cheese at a primitive cheese plant where no PH meters or thermometers were used, and acidity was tested by tasting the whey. She continues, “It was a good first experience; should a PH meter break, the power go out and you do not have a thermometer, I could still make cheese.” She spent a year there before moving on to manage a creamery making eight different kinds of bleu cheese in Washington, an experience “that committed [her] to cheese.” She spent a couple of years traveling to Romania, Transylvania, and South America to learn local cheese-making, before returning and concentrating solely on cheesemaking at Consider Bardwell Farm in Vermont, where she was “mentored by Peter Dixon, the Johnny Appleseed of cheese.”

She returned to a farm in Indiana and “ got to develop cheeses myself and do a line of cheeses,” and met Michael, the farm’s manager.

Neither Michael nor Lindsay had history on Martha’s Vineyard. Much of Lindsay’s family lives in New Jersey. Her twin sister has visited twice from Maui, and she looks forward to family and friends joining her and Michael and Elias on-Island for Thanksgiving. Lindsay consults on cheese to an upstate New York and a Montana creamery and works with sales at Grey Barn when she is not looking after Elias. Her newest project is growing mushrooms in their basement.

Now that the season is over, Lindsay enjoys being able to park and not having to defend herself against crowds, visiting beaches with Elias and enjoying “the glorious fall weather.” One happy find is an apple tree. She has prepared all their vegetables for the winter and admitted they already have their turkey in the freezer. The Island is a welcome change from the winters of Idaho, and the family looks forward to getting to know their new home, neighbors and sharing their skills with local farmers and new friends.

Kosher Turkeys This Thanksgiving

The Grey Barn and Farm is bringing a rabbi to the Island to perform a Kosher slaughter. If you are interested in reserving a Kosher turkey email or call 508-645-4854.

Stuff a Slipaway Farm pepper with some Slipaway Farm sausage (say that three times fast...) and dinner is served. —Photo by Lily K. Morris

Lily K. Morris lives on Chappaquiddick and devised this recipe for a dinner at the Noepe center during one of their writing workshops. She used peppers from Slip Away Farm’s CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), but any good peppers will do.


4-6 small sweet peppers or 2-4 large peppers

2 cups brown basmati rice cooked with water, whey or stock and a bit of salt

1 T coconut oil, ghee, or olive oil (or your preferred cooking fat)

1 onion, chopped

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1 ear of corn, kernels cut off the cob

1 t. coriander seeds

2 t. ground cumin

1/2 lb. Slip Away sausage, cut into rounds and browned, then chopped into 1/4” pieces, or just browned if not in links.

3-5 plum tomatoes, chopped.  About 1.5 cups

1 T fresh oregano, finely chopped

1-2 C. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

sea salt to taste (~ 1/2 t.)


Cook rice if not already cooked (1 cup rice to 1.5 cups water for 40 minutes). Halve peppers and remove seeds and stems. Toss with a bit of olive oil and salt and set aside. For larger portions, and if peppers are squat, try slicing off the top and using one pepper per serving, trimming the bottom if needed so peppers will stand up-right.

Sauté onion in 1-2 t. coconut oil until beginning to brown. Clear a space in the middle of the pan, add a bit more oil and  brown coriander and cumin for a minute. Add garlic and stir. And corn and stir.

In a separate skillet, brown sausage, remove from pan and chop. Add chopped tomatoes to sausage pan, stir and cook for a minute to deglaze pan. Add tomatoes to onion mixture with sausage, rice and oregano. Stir well to get brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Season to taste with salt and cumin.

Pack filling generously into each pepper and place in baking pan or skillet. Cover with foil or  a tightly fitting lid and cook for approximately 45 minutes, or until peppers pierce easily with a fork and filling is hot. Uncover and top generously with cheese and return to oven for about 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and just beginning to brown.

For a vegetarian version, use walnuts and 1 T. nutritional yeast instead of sausage.

—Photo by Alison Shaw

As soon as the family scallop season opens in Chilmark on October 1, my husband digs in the garage for his wooden culling board and the scallop drags I gave him one year for Christmas. He hoses off a pair of wire baskets, loads everything into his truck, and we head for Menemsha harbor where he keeps his boat. We’re going scalloping.

Not much is grander than steaming up Menemsha Pond on a shiny autumn morning cradling a hot cup of coffee from the gas dock. The sun dances off the water, and the weather is often still warm enough for just a tee-shirt.

Except for the fishermen competing in the annual Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby, most of the summer boats and crowds are gone, and there’s a welcome sense of space. We move slowly up the pond until Whit chooses where he wants to set the scallop drags.

Idling the boat, he throws first one and then the other drag into the shallow water. Every year he forgets how heavy even the empty ones are.

We motor slowly, letting the drags run gently along the bottom. Soon they are full. Together we manage to pull up each drag and dump the contents onto the culling board. There are a few crabs, empty oyster shells, and some seaweed, but the bulk of the take is delectable bay scallops.

My favorite way to eat a scallop is raw on the boat. Before we begin the job of culling we stop and indulge in a few tender bites. Holding a scallop by its side firmly but gently, I jimmy open the crenulated shell with a scallop knife and slide the guts off to expose the sweet muscle. I scrape against the shell with a quick turn of the knife, and a perfect bite is ready to be sucked out of the shell, sweet, cold, and utterly delicious.

My second favorite way to eat bay scallops is the way my father cooked them. He added an ample chunk of butter to a cast-iron skillet and put the pan on the stove over a high flame. Watching closely to make sure the butter was hot and bubbly, but not browning, he added the scallops. When I do it, I try to make sure no scallops are touching. I like them browned on the edges, but Dad didn’t care about that.

The procedure is simple, but there’s skill involved. Too hot a skillet and the butter burns; not hot enough, and the scallops release their juices. Once the scallops are in the pan, Dad stirred them for a few minutes keeping the heat pretty high. When he thought they were almost ready, he poured in a generous dollop of good sherry, enough so the scallops were swimming in a butter/sherry bath. He let this simmer a minute or so to burn off some of the alcohol.

The scallops were done. All that remained was to add a little salt and pepper to taste. Sometimes Dad poured the scallops onto a bed of rice, but usually he ladled them into shallow soup bowls and we ate them with a spoon, sopping up the extra juices with a crispy slice of warm French bread.

It’s hard to imagine a better setting for eating a scallop than an open boat on Menemsha pond, but Dad’s den ran a close second. There was always a roaring fire. We’d settle in on overstuffed chairs, dogs at our feet, set our bowls on rickety TV tables, and dig in. The meal was so rich the only thing we could do to settle our stomachs was to follow it with a small bowl of ice cream.

Before scallop season is over this year, I hope to have the opportunity to show my two children how to cook scallops the way Dad did. Recently I learned that Dad’s beloved uncle taught him this recipe. It’s funny to think that when Dad and I ate scallops together we were connected in that moment, but what grounded our memories was separated by at least a generation. Will knowing this way of cooking scallops has been passed down by family members for at least a century add to my children’s pleasure — or make it all too rich with meaning?

If so, we can go back to basics. Nothing beats the purity of that first raw bite — a taste the human family has enjoyed with unbridled pleasure generation after generation.

Dolly Campbell's husband, Bruce, built shelves that allow natural light to pass through her bottle collection. —Photo by Michael Cummo

Kay Dixon, a childhood Vineyard summer friend, is visiting Dolly Campbell when I arrive. She now comes annually, has just arrived, and always looks forward to revisiting Dolly’s collections and discovering what has been added. Getting to revisit all these objects makes her feel the same at-home comfort year after year. It would be impossible to miss Dolly’s collections — they fill shelving specially-built by her husband, Bruce, so her bottle collection can have natural light from the windows pass through them; old handmade herb choppers ring the uppermost walls around the kitchen; assorted animals can be found on the floor throughout her home, one-inch high handmade wooden birds extend over three windows sitting above the upper casing in the dining room, walls are hung with family portraits and collected favorites. There is so much to see, the eye must focus on one group, whether slab tiles made by Heather Goff or antique books lining shelves: it is just not possible to take it all in at once, so Dolly and I start in her kitchen.

Multi-colored bottles — pale amethyst, reds, assorted blues, dark green — come from as far away as New Zealand. —Photo by Michael Cummo
Multi-colored bottles — pale amethyst, reds, assorted blues, dark green — come from as far away as New Zealand. —Photo by Michael Cummo

Dolly grew up in Southport, Conn., in a neighborhood referred to as Fertile Acres, “because everyone was having babies [and] loved retail,” she says. “I’d go around the house and pick things up, then set up a little table outside the house and sell them. One time I sold my father’s wallet to the next-door neighbor for a quarter. He had to go and buy it back for a dollar because it still had money in it.” Dolly remembers seeing a photo story when she was married of Jackie Onassis’s New York City apartment —  all the tables were filled with family objects and mementos — and loving how it looked. She adopted the style as her own and rearranged objects in her grandmother’s house in West Chop, where she was living while her own home was being built.

Dolly started going to yard sales and limited her collecting to the Island, though the idea of stopping at thrift shops and antique stores off-Island appeals to her now. The only problem, she says, is where to put things. Dolly retired from 15 years of co-managing the Chicken Alley Thrift Shop in 2011. There, she purchased many treasured objects and kept her collecting spirit always ignited. She loves the varied shapes and forms of the no-two-alike herb choppers lining two sides of her kitchen walls just below the ceiling. She has an antique glass jar filled with sea glass, which she realizes is the first thing she ever collected and pieces go back to her childhood. Dolly admits there is more sea glass squirreled away in her basement. Her Vineyard Haven home is filled with many inherited collections, including family portraits in oil, sterling silver tea service from the early 1900s, furniture, old books — including Trollope and Dickens — that her husband Bruce collects.

Her bottle collection has mostly been purchased through thrift shop finds and includes unusual colors — a pale amethyst, reds, assorted blues, dark green, besides an array of clear bottles. She takes down one of her favorites that she brought home from a New Zealand stay with her son’s family. Although it looks old, it is a contemporary bottle that reminds me of Japanese Ramune soda bottles that have a glass marble inside sitting above the pinched neck. She told me that people break the glass to get the marbles out. I notice the jar of dice and she exclaims, “I love dice.”

Dolly loves many things. We continue from the dining room to the living room where I learn all the boat paintings and prints she found as presents for her husband over the years. One particularly large port scene painting came from the Foster estate which is now the Lambert’s Cove Inn, and hangs over the sofa in the middle of the living room. Dolly says, “Mr. Foster was a bachelor who traveled all over the world. He died and the bank took over and had a big open house. I think this was in the late 60’s. You see this is a Claude Lorrain look-a-like.” In fact it is a copy of his Port Scene with the Villa Medici from 1637 that hangs in the Uffizi gallery in Florence, Italy.

Dolly co-managed the Chicken Alley Thrift store for 15 years and found lots of treasures there. —Photo by Michael Cummo
Dolly co-managed the Chicken Alley Thrift store for 15 years and found lots of treasures there. —Photo by Michael Cummo

On the mantel there are two lovely metal sculptures of dancers, both thrift shop purchases. I notice two Chinese cloisonné vases on the floor in front of one of the bookcases filled with mostly antique books. Dolly admits, “I used to collect vases, but ran out room for them because they take up too much space. I’ve given a lot of them away.” We go into the front hall and I fall in love with the animal door stops along a wall. There are antique boat prints and my favorite, I learn, was purchased on their honeymoon in New Hampshire — a large print of White Star’s Oceanic, the first ocean liner ever built.

Upstairs, the master bedroom’s walls are filled like the Louvre from the ceiling to floor with assorted paintings. One painter whose work Dolly has been buying for years is Claudio Gasparini, originally from Italy and since 1984 a seasonal Martha’s Vineyard resident, who has an annual show at The Granary Gallery. In one corner of the bedroom is a mirrored dressing table that once belonged to Island philanthropist and dear friend Molly McAlpin. Dolly has adorned it with necklaces, finds and family photos. I’ve been escorted through every room in the house including the bathrooms and then Dolly says, “Well, there’s lots to look at outside as well.” Her garden meanders up and down around the house and out to a very large koi pond. I could call it Dolly’s Folly: it reminds me of English gardens that were created to look as though built around ancient ruins. I love the sculptures and especially the dog house, House of Coco which, yes Dolly bought at a yard sale and hopes to restore some day.

—Photo by Susan Safford

Mulch or Cover-crop for Fall

Nighttime chill, holding the threat of frost, triggers changes in our gardens (and in us), prompting the close of the growing year. Experienced gardeners know that preparation for the next gardening year starts well in advance of its arrival. In dry spells, such as the one we have recently experienced, the more moisture-retentive organic matter in the soil, the better the survival and growth for the coming year.

In vegetable gardens, as crops are harvested and cleared, various “green manures” or cover crops may be sown. This is a term describing plants specifically grown to be tilled into the soil, instead of yielding harvestable crops. After protecting the soil surface they are incorporated into the soil; the breakdown of their root systems and green top growth supply the soil organisms with valuable nutrition.

Depending on the season, this might be a warm weather cover crop such as buckwheat, grasses, or legumes. Oats are used later on; they will winterkill but still hold the soil. Winter rye is one of the most commonly used cold weather cover crops; on the Vineyard it usually holds over the winter and resumes growth in spring. Blends are also available, either locally or through seed catalogues, containing mixtures of both legumes and other types of plants.

The aim is that, apart from cool weather crops still in place, the garden is completely covered, either with green, or animal, manure or mulched with organic matter from compost or leaf piles. An over-wintering crop, such as garlic or fall-planted potatoes, also benefits from being mulched.

Cover cropping is usually restricted to vegetable patches and agricultural soils, while mulching is what happens in the ornamental garden or shrub border. The goals are the same, however: to cover the soil surface and protect it from wind and water erosion; and to layer on organic matter that feeds and enhances soil organisms, whose action adds humus.

There is a style of mulching that resembles the application of a “mulch blanket,” which stays there, all season long, for the purpose of suppressing weeds and minimizing maintenance. This differs from the application of mulch that is worked and cultivated, so that it is continuously incorporated and digested by soil organisms.

Gardeners may hear about intricate rotational systems for vegetable gardens, and the green manures specific to the rotation. This is good husbandry but is confusing. Until one has gardened in a specific spot for a number of years and gotten to know it, much of this is guesswork, soil testing notwithstanding. If you adhere to the guideline of getting as much organic matter into the soil as you can, you will be improving it.

Take soil samples for testing now. Go to the UMass soil testing website for information, Other soil testing labs that perform more intensive types of testing do exist; they may be found with an internet search. Be prepared to take the advice that is sent to you with the results, as part of your fall garden work.

Food Garden: Harvesting & Storing

Harvest seeds and herbs for drying, such as dill seed, peppermint, and sage, for use as teas, seasoning, and for seed to sow in the coming year. I cut sprigs and seed heads, tie them in bunches with garden twine, and place them in paper bags to dry. The bags catch whatever shatters, or breaks off. Harvest dry shell beans and finish drying on trays, to be shelled and stored when they rattle in the pod.

Plant garlic in prepared, fertile soil by separating the cloves and planting up to four inches deep and 6-8” apart in rows at least one foot apart. Sow hardy crops that will be grown under reemay or other forms of cover over the course of the winter. Dig and divide rhubarb roots: replant in soil that has been amended with good compost or well-rotted manure. Cut down asparagus tops when yellow and mulch the crowns with compost or well-rotted manure. (Rockweed — not eelgrass — and algae are dynamite if you can harvest some!)

Harvest squash and pumpkins; cure before storing. After frost has blackened tops, dig and cure dahlia roots; label well before storing. Harvest fruit that stores, such as apples and pears; only perfect ones may be stored; process the rest. Fall-bearing raspberries are bountiful; I pick and freeze about a pint each morning before work, by traying them in a single layer in the freezer, and then pouring into zip lock bags. Pull cabbages and store, roots and all, in cellars or other cool, darkened place. Four good-size cabbage heads yield about seven quarts of naturally fermented sauerkraut, which may be stored indefinitely in the fridge.

Ornamental Garden

Cut-downs proceed as perennial plants finish their business. With the dry conditions, cutting down sooner than usual may be helpful to drought-stressed perennial plants. Re-work edges, weed, and cultivate, prior to top dressing with low number organic soil food and capping with mulch.

Here is a timesaving move: certain beds may be dealt with by using a power mower on them, blade set high. It speeds things up considerably. Rake up the resulting debris and compost it, top-dress with fertilizer, and then cover bed with mulch or compost. With cleaned up edges the entire bed looks tidy and well ordered for the coming season.

Peonies and iris, both bearded and Siberian, may be dug, divided, and reset, using compost or leaf mold to enhance the planting hole. (Refrain from fertilizing directly in planting holes.) Likewise, strong growers such as lysimachia, Shasta daisies, phlox, some hostas, and many asters may be cut down, dug, and separated into smaller pieces for replanting. The same goes for an ornamental grass that has become out-of scale for its location. Cut it down, dig the clump, and then divide it using the classic, “two spading forks back to back” to prize the root mass into smaller chunks.

Evergreens, especially the broad-leaved ones, such as rhododendron, pieris, skimmia, and sarcococca, continue to transpire all winter, and lose valuable moisture from their tissues during our up-and-down, freeze/thaw cycles. Newly planted trees and shrubs are at greater risk too. The unusual dryness of this fall is placing additional stress on these plants, since going into winter in a desiccated state is a real killer. Provide supplemental water and spray these plants with an anti-desiccant to help them hold onto critical moisture levels.