Tags Posts tagged with "Vineyard Haven"

Vineyard Haven

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The Island Grown Initiative invited curious Island residents and visitors alike to visit the Farm Hub at Thimble Farm and learn more about each of it's four programs. — Photo by Bella Bennett

From sweet and tart strawberries to rich purple and green basil plants, the 31,000-square-foot glass greenhouse at Island Grown Initiative’s (IGI) Farm Hub at Thimble Farm in Vineyard Haven is filled from floor to ceiling with vibrant produce. Rows of vertical and horizontal pipes akin to home plumbing systems snake throughout the multiple rooms of the greenhouse. Each pipe features a multitude of holes on the top side, into which basil, chives, lettuce, arugula, and many other plants have been placed. These plants are being cultivated through hydroponic methods. Their roots dangle through the holes in the pipe, below which a steady stream of nutrient-rich water flows. This may seem like a more resource-intensive method than traditional farming, but the nutrients are organically sourced. Just across the room, five or six large tanks support about 1,100 rainbow trout. Instead of cleaning their tanks and watering the plants separately, the farm filters the water and diverts it out into all of the complex pipe systems throughout the greenhouse. The plants mature at a much faster pace than traditionally farmed plants, and there is far more space available when you can grow plants vertically, horizontally, diagonally, and suspended, as the tomatoes and peppers within the greenhouse are trained to grow.

The greenhouse at IGI's Farm Hub at Thimble Farm houses an array of successful hydroponic configurations. — Photo by Bella Bennett
The greenhouse at IGI’s Farm Hub at Thimble Farm houses an array of successful hydroponic configurations. — Photo by Bella Bennett

On Monday, Island Grown Initiative hosted an open farm of sorts, to share the initiative’s four main programs with curious Islanders and visitors. Attendees were escorted throughout the greenhouse by a knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff, and then led outside to learn about the Island Grown Schools program in the gardens. The tour culminated with a lesson on the inner workings of the Island Grown Poultry program by leader Matthew Dix.

The poultry program has contributed to the rise in local poultry available on the Island, thanks to the introduction of the Mobile Poultry Processing Unit. This saves local farmers time and money that would otherwise be spent off-Island on travel, and ensures the use of safe and humane methods.

The Island Grown Initiative was founded in 2007, and has since proven its commitment to creating accessible local food systems through four main programs including: Island Grown Schools, Island Grown Poultry, Island Grown Gleaning, and Island Grown Farm Hub. As the organization states, “Each program works collaboratively to provide food and agricultural education, develop infrastructure that supports food production, and increases the supply and demand of locally grown food.” These programs target specific areas within the Vineyard community that would otherwise lack access to fresh food or food education, and provides these services in order to improve the local food system overall.

Island Grown Schools is a farm-to-school program that works with students from ages 2 through 18 at nine local preschools, all seven elementary schools, and the regional high school. This program is divided into four sections; cafeterias, classrooms, gardens, and farm connections. Combined, these touchpoints provide students with hands-on gardening experience at each involved school; enable local food to be served in school cafeterias, including farm-fresh vegetables, meat and fish; and facilitate food-based classroom discussions that culminate in field trips throughout the year. Beyond introducing children to the essentials and importance of local food systems, the program invites children to partake in the creation of their own food, from seed collecting to watering to harvesting. This program has also helped children to give back to the community through the Island Grown Gleaning program. Gleaning refers to the process of harvesting produce that would otherwise be left in the field after the main growing and selling season ends. As IGI framed it, “We work with farmers to reduce crop waste and give their ‘seconds’ a second chance!​” Last season alone, 26,000 pounds of excess or unwanted produce was gleaned from Island farms, including but not limited to Morning Glory Farm, Slip Away Farm, Whippoorwill Farm, and North Tabor Farm, then distributed to school cafeterias, seniors, and Islanders in need.

The Island Grown Initiative has made quite an impact on the community since its creation eight years ago, and it plans to continue to grow and work toward an even better Island food system. As Emily Armstrong, the preschool coordinator for Island Grown Schools, put it, “our hope is really to develop this space for the community. Through all of our programs, we’re trying to work together to accomplish this mission.”


For more information about these programs, check out IGI online at islandgrown.org. For a map of Island farms and their offerings, visit the MVTimes’ online farm map at MV Farm Map.



VH4 | The GOOD Farm
Owned by Jefferson Munroe

A five month old pig at The GOOD Farm, in Vineyard Haven.


1056 State Road, Vineyard Haven 02568

Link to MV Farm Map


Phone: 714-785-0112
Email: thegoodfarmmv@gmail.com
Facebook: facebook.com/pages/The-GOOD-Farm/118497254837072

Products include

Meat & poultry

Thanksgiving turkeys

Sales locations

On-farm sales by appointment year-round 

West Tisbury Farmers Market, Saturdays, summer and winter

Photo by Bella Bennett


The GOOD Farm grew out of one farmer’s desire to improve the land, work with the earth and produce delicious food. Grass based meats of exceptional quality are their specialty. Whole chicken and chicken parts, ducks, turkey and the occasional guinea fowl or pheasant are among their poultry offerings, in addition to pork meats, bacon and sausage. Although they do on-farm sales by appointment, they can most readily be found at the West Tisbury Farmers Market.


Jefferson Monroe knew he wanted to farm and found his way from the west coast to the Island in search for a place where water was abundant. The GOOD farm began in 2010 with a lease of the Tisbury Meadow Preserve from the Martha’s Vineyard Landbank, an island conservation organization, and expanded to the historic Craig Kingsbury Farm. The GOOD Farm works at managing animals, water and vegetation to increase the fertility and productivity of the land as Jefferson views the land as a bank rather than a mine, a place to accrue interest rather than extract value. Pastured poultry is their focus in addition to the raising of pigs, and they are expanding into fruit with berries and Asian pears. Jefferson considers himself incredibly lucky to live in a beautiful place doing what he loves, for a community so focused on local agriculture.

Further Information

Farm tours by appointment year round

VH1 | Spring Moon Farm
Owned by Elizabeth Packer and her children Oscar & Lucy Thompson

Liz carries Jeranimo towards a large green pasture, which will soon house Spring Moon Farm's bachelor rams. — Photo by Bella Bennett


206 Northern Pines Road, Vineyard Haven 02568

Link to MV Farm Map


Phone: 508-696-7271
Email: springmoonfarmmv@gmail.com
Facebook: facebook.com/SpringMoo

Products include

Meat & poultry, herbs, flowers

Sales locations

Products available at SBS, on State Road, Vineyard Haven

Photo by Bella Bennett


Spring Moon Farm began about the same time as kids came along in 1995, as the realization of a dream, a multi-generational, diverse family farm-homestead. Elizabeth Packer and her children Oscar and Lucy, see it as a joint effort, as a way of life, not a lifestyle, and one that can be done on one’s own terms. This 8-acre homestead farm raises mostly pastured livestock, sold as breeding stock, live animal or meat available at SBS, their family operated grain store.


Elizabeth Packer and her family have a down-to-earth, almost poetic view of why they farm. It is by their own definition a system, a process, a joy and lots of sorrow. Farming is a humane experience for the farmers and the livestock, one lending to the other. No one thing stands alone, no one thing can stand alone, as the farmers support the farm and the farm supports the farmer. They believe in non-GMO inputs and have put their farm under APR restriction as open land for agriculture, for perpetuity. They see the farm as dynamic and scalable by season and resources, raising pastured poultry, lamb & beef. They sell breeding stock, live animal, as well as meat & wool products, cut flowers and veggie, herb & perennial starts, mostly through on-farm sales by appointment or through SBS, their family operated grain store in Vineyard Haven.

Further Information

Spring Moon Farm hosts occasional educational events

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Ehud Neor, and his wife, Dvora, in Israel. Behind them is the route by which the children of Isreal entered the promised land. Ehud was formerly Billy Luce, from Vineyard Haven. — Courtesy Ehud Neor

This autumn Geraldine Averill of Vineyard Haven, a devout Episcopalian, will celebrate her 80th birthday in Israel. Her hosts will be Ehud Neor and his family, who are faithful to the practices and beliefs of Judaism. Mr. Neor graduated from Martha’s Vineyard High School in 1974. Back then, he was known as Billy Luce. Though his name and nation may have changed, his tie to Ms. Averill hasn’t. He is her son.

When Ehud Neor was still Billy Luce (back row, fourth from right), he played football for Martha’s Vineyard with a lot of guys with still-recognizable Island names. Among them were Chris and David Look, whose father, Huck, hung the photo on the wall of the Edgartown Police station, where he worked. Which explains why it’s famous: it has a cameo role in the movie Jaws, in a scene set in the Amity police station.
When Ehud Neor was still Billy Luce (back row, fifth from right), he played football for Martha’s Vineyard with a lot of guys with still-recognizable Island names. Among them were Chris and David Look, whose father, Huck, hung the photo on the wall of the Edgartown Police station, where he worked. Which explains why it’s famous: it has a cameo role in the movie Jaws, in a scene set in the Amity police station.

As a teen from Vineyard Haven, Ehud [Billy] used to hit the field for the Vineyarders, sometimes as guard and sometimes as linebacker. Though football isn’t part of his life anymore, he told The Times in a series of Skypes and emails, he remembers quite a few of his fellow teammates — 1973 Mayflower League co-champions — including where on the Island they hailed from and what positions they played: Timmy Anthony, Richard Clark, the Look brothers, Mark Landers, and Robert Trebby, among others. “The great Ron Brown got his start,” he said, “running through holes created by our offensive line.”

Billy Luce, long before he became Ehud Neor, as a teenager in Vineyard Haven. — Courtesy Geraldine Averill
Billy Luce, long before he became Ehud Neor, as a teenager in Vineyard Haven. — Courtesy Geraldine Averill

During Ehud’s teenage years on the Vineyard, his mother was a business partner in the Ice Cream and Candy Bazaar in Edgartown, while his stepfather, Preston Averill, owned and operated Averill Distributors with his son Preston Averill, Jr. Save for occasionally playing baseball beside the Hebrew Center on a field that is now the center’s parking lot, he had little exposure to Judaism on-Island, nor did he show signs of wanting to visit Israel, let alone move there for good.

“There was absolutely no indication that he would emigrate as he was growing up,” said Ms. Averill.

Ehud’s [Billy’s] interest in Israel came when he was a young adult studying on scholarship at Wabash College in Indiana. In 1978 he chose the Middle Eastern country for his junior year abroad, largely because it looked to be a free trip. He arrived at the University of Haifa with enough extra tuition reimbursement to visit Greece and explore neighboring Egypt and Jordan. It was when he was returning to Israel from Jordan over the Allenby Bridge that he felt an unexpected sense of homecoming. That in turn spurred him to seek rabbinical guidance about conversion. He then put his all into learning the Hebrew language, and eventually became extraordinarily fluent.

“I studied eight hours a day for a year — studied, straight through; four hours, a one-hour break, then four more hours. I learned Hebrew better than the Hebrews. Anyone who can keep up that pace can become an expert in a foreign language. No secret to it.”

Continuing to be captivated by the faith and culture of a country smaller in area than the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, he went on to marry a woman he met during his studies, to gain his citizenship, and to officially change his name and religion.

Ehud Neor, left, and wife Dvora at their wedding.
Ehud Neor, left, and wife Dvora at their wedding.

Ehud’s wedding was held in one of Israel’s large urban centers. With the lion’s share of his friends and family more than 5,000 miles away, members of the West Bank kibbutz he’d been living in beefed up attendance.

“It took place in Petach Tikva,” said Mr. Neor.  “At the time I was living in Kibbutz Kfar Etzion.  Real religious Zionist-pioneer types. Half the kibbutz came to the wedding and really livened the whole thing up — as if a Jewish wedding needed livening-up. On the other side was my wife’s family; upscale, mostly secular Baghdadi Jews. Quite the mixed bag. It was a real blast. My mother came with my brother [Mark Luce], who showed up in his Navy uniform, having been discharged a day before their flight to Israel.”

With his new wife Dvora, he subsequently moved to one of the Jewish settlements in Gaza and began a farming enterprise.

“Dvora is a true sabra — tough on the outside and sweet and tender on the inside,” said Ms. Averill. “I couldn’t ask for a better wife for my son or daughter-in-law for me.  She’s bright, intelligent, fun, and a wonderful mother.”

“We lived in Gan Or, in Gush Katif — between Khan Yunis and the [Mediterranean] sea — for 19 years,” said Ehud.  “Our children grew up there — our two boys were born there. We worked together with the Arabs from Khan Yunis on our farms.”

Ehud and his wife Dvora, with their daughter, Namaa.
Ehud and his wife Dvora, with their daughter, Namaa.

Unfortunately, the warfare and terrorism that has plagued modern Israel since its beginning in 1948 did not abate after Ehud matriculated into Israeli society. He and his wife actually lived in an area more prone to violence than many other parts of the country. As his mother discovered during an early visit, Neor family life functioned on a level of alertness unfathomable to most Americans.

“My daughter-in-law and I were going shopping when they lived in Gush Katif,” said Ms. Averill. “When I started to fasten my seatbelt, she told me not to. We had to be ready to jump out of the car if a Molotov cocktail was thrown at the car. Then I looked down and saw that she had her purse open, and there was a gun in it. That finally made it real to me where I was.”

During their time in Gaza, Ehud and his family survived numerous firebomb attacks, shootings, and bus bombings. They were resilient, however. Even after Ehud’s business partner in farming was stabbed to death, they stayed on. Only when Gaza was relinquished to the Palestinians and their own government forced them to did they move out of the area to the new settlement of Be’er Ganim.

Geraldine Averill, in front of the caves at Qumran, where the dead sea scrolls were found.
Geraldine Averill, in front of the caves at Qumran, where the dead sea scrolls were found.

Ehud and Dvora still live in Be’er Ganim, just north of the ancient port of Ashkelon. From there, Ehud, a self-taught programmer, runs a computer-consulting firm which has offices in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. His wife, though largely retired, teaches part-time at a girls’ school. Their son Yaniv, who’s still in the army, lives with them. Their oldest daughter Namaa lives with her family in Jerusalem, while their daughter Efrat and her family live close by in Ashkelon. Hanan, their other son, was just released from the army. He lives with his family in Jerusalem.

Though the Neors’ life in Be’er Ganim is largely free of the particular types of terror they experienced in Gaza, their home is within range of rockets fired from the very same place. And although Israel is defended by a system of antimissile batteries called the Iron Dome, not everything can be intercepted. At home, Ehud and his family have a type of heavy concrete safe room that is common in Israel. He was forced to hurry to the room at least once while emailing the Times earlier in the month. These shelters are considered such an important element of daily safety that even stores and restaurants have them.

“Once during the recent fighting, Dvora and I were in the checkout line at a supermarket,” said Ehud.  “When the alarm went off, we had about 30 seconds to run to the far wall to the safe room: everyone, customers and employees alike. If you are on the road, you need to pull over and lie down on the side of the road. I had to do that once.”

Ms. Averill witnessed a rocket scare her son experienced while they Skyped with each other.

“He just tore off his headphones and started running out of the door to his office,” she said.  “He turned and mouthed to me, Rocket. I was left staring at the door and prayerfully waiting for his return. Thank God he did in a few minutes.”

Despite the perils to be found in modern Israel, Ehud and his family lead happy and relatively peaceful lives (save for those family members serving in the military). That happiness will only swell when Ehud will be able to introduce his mother to her new great-grandchildren as well as take her to some of the world’s greatest cultural and religious treasures when she arrives for her birthday.

“I’m looking forward to meeting two new great-grandsons,” said Ms. Averill.  “They bring the total of great-grandchildren to five. Being with my family is such a joy.”

“My plan for my mother, besides a festive meal, is, believe it or not, to follow the Via Dolorosa.  She is a very devout Christian, and though the ‘route’ is normally a Catholic thing, I have some connections along the way that will let us see views of Jerusalem that are rare and inspiring. She is my mother, after all. And if I am any good at being an observant Jew, I would give her much of the credit, though she may not want it!”

To learn more about Ehud Neor’s life in Israel, visit his blog:neorupdate.blogspot.co.il/.

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Photos of long ago Martha's Vineyard

–Courtesy Chris Baer

In the early 20th century, meat wagons traveled the up-Island roads, selling meat and groceries house-to-house from down-Island stores. Driver Howard Downs poses here with his delivery wagon from the Vineyard Haven-based grocery Look, Smith & Co. He held this job for decades, first with a horse and wagon, and later with a truck. If he lacked an item for a customer, he took orders for his next trip up-Island.

Look, Smith & Co. had a long history as a meat market in Vineyard Haven, beginning during the Civil War as the market of butcher John Look of Lamberts Cove. Look went to Brighton each week to buy 10 or 12 big steers, drive them to New Bedford, bring them over on the steamer to Vineyard Haven, and finally drive them to his farm in Lambert’s Cove. It took several men to prevent them from straying up the wrong streets as they left town. The Look family business became Look, Washburn & Co., and then (with the partnership of identical twins Art and Bert Smith),  Look, Smith & Co. Finally the business merged with two other Vineyard Haven groceries, Bodfish & Call and the Swift Brothers’ grocery, to become S.B.S. — “Smith, Bodfish and Swift” — still located in Vineyard Haven today.

Chris Baer teaches photography and graphic design at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. He’s been collecting vintage photographs for many years.

Kay-Mayhew What a wonderful week. Our darling granddaughters Rory and Fiona are back at Camp Nana, which this week includes adventures with Kids Discovery Days at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum.

Ages 5 and up learn all about bugs today at 4 pm at the Vineyard Haven Library. Marvelous Marvin teaches bug habits and the importance of bugs to humans with circus arts, magic, and music. Next Thursday at 4 pm, Mister Rocketman will show us how to make amazing rockets.The kids launch their creations, and it’s anyone’s guess as to where they will land.

You are familiar with Moth and NPR. Saturday evening at the Tabernacle hear islanders sharing brief true stories told live. Time is 7:30; cost is $40.

Tom Dresser, Herb Foster, and Jay Schofield will be in the Community Room at Hillside Village at 2 pm Sunday, after the NAACP meeting. Their book, “Martha’s Vineyard in World War II,” is already in a second printing. They talked with Vineyarders who were here during the war, including my husband and his cousin Buddy Mayhew, and researched files of the Gazette and the Museum. Views of life on the home front of Martha’s Vineyard during the war range from plane spotters at town hall to workers at the Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard. The talk is free, the book is $20.

On Tuesday adults can hear Susan Klein speak on Folklore & Mythology From A Woman’s Perspective. That’s at 8 pm at Featherstone.

Students from fifth grade through high school were chosen by their music teachers as the most talented and hardworking young singers and instrumentalists on the Island. They will perform at 7:30 pm on Tuesday at the West Tisbury Grange Hall to benefit the new West Tisbury Library. Tickets are $15 and half price for age 12 and under, available in advance at Tisberry Fro Yo off Main Street.

I should remind you that shopping online harms our local businesses. But I am a realist; I know you sometimes order stuff from Amazon anyway. Next time you do that, use this address because 1% of the sale can go to charity: http://smile.amazon.com.

Next Wednesday, author Josh Ruxin will speak about his new book “A Thousand Hills to Heaven: Love, Hope, and a Restaurant in Rwanda” at 7 pm at the Vineyard Haven Library.

This is the story of a Columbia University professor picking up and moving to deepest Rwanda, where he helped revitalize a village and fell in love with a little restaurant called Heaven. Hear about living in Rwanda, building a village, then constructing a restaurant, and, during it all, beginning his own family.

How can anyone think bicycles don’t have the same rights as cars on our roads? The moped riders have these rights, too. Owning a vehicle does not give you the right to be the only one on the road. If you find these people slow you down, you should have left home earlier. Your being late is not their fault.

Peter Pan! Live! A week from tomorrow, August 15, the Island Theater Workshop presents a benefit performance of Peter Pan at 7:30 pm at the MVRHS Performing Arts Center. The performance is directed by Kevin Ryan to benefit the MV Center for Living and support services for Island seniors. $25 for adults and $12 for children. More at 508-939-9440.

You will want to know about two special events at the Federated Church in Edgartown next week. On Sunday morning from 8:30 to 10:30 is the annual blueberry breakfast. Then on Tuesday afternoon five lovely homes on School Street and South Water Street in Edgartown will be open for you as a benefit for the church. Historian Mary Jane Carpenter will speak at 1 pm before the afternoon tour begins. Tea and refreshments are offered at the Mayhew Parsonage. Tickets are $35 at the Meetinghouse on the afternoon of the tour. More: Anne Vose at 508-627-7077.

Big bunches of birthday balloon wishes go out to John Edmond Coogan today. Wish the best tomorrow to Bobbie Donavan. Happy birthday to Goodie Stiller Corriveau who parties next Wednesday. Belated greetings go out to Sharon Coogan.

Heard on Main Street: It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

Got Tisbury news? Contact Kay Mayhew here.

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A Navy Band concert will cap a parade and ceremony to commemorate the park's 50th year.

The Navy Band will march Saturday and perform a variety of music in a concert at the Tabernacle Saturday night. — Navy Band Northeast

A Flag Day celebration on Saturday hosted by American Legion Post 257 in Vineyard Haven will include a parade and rededication ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Veterans Memorial Park. As a special treat, the 45-member Navy Band Northeast from Newport, R.I., will participate.

At the beginning of the 20th century, nothing but swamp lay between the village of Vineyard Haven and where this photographer stood - approximately where Burt's boatyard is today. It wasn't until after the first World War that the marsh was filled in and the stone veterans' monument moved here from the front yard of the Vineyard Haven Library. The tall building visible on the left in this photo is the Association Hall, where the Tisbury Town Hall is today; the large building on the right is the Mansion House.
At the beginning of the 20th century, nothing but swamp lay between the village of Vineyard Haven and where this photographer stood – approximately where Burt’s boatyard is today. It wasn’t until after the first World War that the marsh was filled in and the stone veterans’ monument moved here from the front yard of the Vineyard Haven Library. The tall building visible on the left in this photo is the Association Hall, where the Tisbury Town Hall is today; the large building on the right is the Mansion House.

That evening the band will perform a free concert at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs. The morning parade will be canceled if it rains, but not the evening concert, according to Legionnaire organizer, and trumpeter for all occasions, Edson Rodgers.

The Navy Band Northeast will play the National Anthem and patriotic songs during the park ceremony. At 7 pm Saturday night, the band will perform a 70-minute show under the direction of Lt. Commander Carl J. Gerhard, U.S. Navy.

“I think people are in for a treat and are really going to enjoy it,” Lt. Cdr. Gerhard told The Times in a phone call Tuesday. “We’ll play music for all ages — patriotic songs, popular tunes, Big Band, swing, Dixieland — we’ve got it all.”

Veterans and Tisbury town officials, accompanied by the Navy Band, will step off for the parade at 11 am from St. Augustine’s Catholic Church on Franklin Street. The half-mile parade route takes them down Church Street, right on Main Street, right on State Road, and left on Causeway Road down to Veterans Memorial Park.

A rededication ceremony at the park will pay tribute to the hard work and generosity of American Legion members who envisioned its creation and carried the project through the 12 years it took to complete. Legionnaire Fred Thifault, the only remaining member of the park’s original building committee which he joined in 1962, has been invited to participate.

A living memorial

Over five decades, generations of Islanders of all ages have enjoyed Veterans Memorial Park’s sports fields, grounds, and playgrounds. The public park is the hub for soccer, baseball, softball, and volleyball games.

A plaque in the park notes that the land was purchased and the park constructed by “members and friends of Gen. Geo. W. Goethals Post 257, American Legion, Vineyard Haven.”

According to an early fundraising pamphlet, the Legionnaires decided that a War Veterans Memorial Park was more suitable than a memorial made of bronze and granite to honor those who died in war.

“We don’t want a statue’s face, stuck against a stone,” a poem entitled “Appreciation” said. “We would like a living place we could call our own.”

What few people probably realize today is that the park’s ball fields were once literally diamonds in the rough. As the pamphlet described, the park land the Legionnaires purchased was “an unused and seemingly useless hollow covered with tangled thickets and a jungle of reeds taller than a man.” One section they bought in 1951, where Bass Creek headed up, was a swamp with a deep bog-hole.

On December 7, 1951, the Veterans Memorial Park project received a charter as a nonprofit organization.

“There was a job to be done and Legion volunteers went to work,” the pamphlet said. “Perhaps they found assurance in the fact that their post was named for the man who dug the Panama Canal, and chose the Vineyard as his home. As General Goethals connected two oceans, so they would transform a swamp into a 10-acre park.”

It was no small feat, and the project required vision, sacrifice, and dedication. Legionnaires and their friends put in countless hours of voluntary manpower. Mr. Rogers recalled that many of them put in a full day at their regular jobs, then headed to work at the park in the evening.

They cleared the land, drained it, and brought in a total of 60,000 cubic yards of fill. Owners of equipment loaned them trucks that hauled 10,000 loads of earth.

The Legionnaires raised $20,000 over several years through ham-and-bean suppers, dances, auctions, and entertainment events to fund the project’s start-up. Once they began it, they realized that even with those funds, voluntary labor, and donated fill, it would not be enough. Over the next eight years, the Legionnaires conducted fundraisers that brought in more than $30,000 from year-round and summer residents.

About 12 years after they began, the Legionnaires realized their dream. In keeping with a vote at annual town meeting in 1964, Tisbury accepted the War Veterans Memorial Park as a gift from the nonprofit organization formed by American Legion Post 257. Along with the deed to the park, the Legionnaires also presented a check to the town for $6,000, raised through raffles, dances, and suppers, for betterments and improvements.

In 2008 and 2009, Veterans Memorial Park underwent major renovations, at a cost of about $590,000. Tisbury voters gave the town approval to borrow about $493,000 for the project and to appropriate about $100,000 in Community Preservation Act funds towards it. The park was closed to the public and topsoil removed, and new turf and drainage and irrigation systems installed. Two new scoreboards, bleachers, and fountains were also installed. Tisbury held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on September 12, 2009, to reopen the upgraded park.

Band notes

In a visit to The Times offices on Monday, Mr. Rodgers said the idea for the park’s 50th anniversary rededication ceremony stemmed from a suggestion from Michael Flynn of Vineyard Haven. While on a walk through the park one day, Mr. Flynn happened to notice the date on the plaque commemorating its gift to the town in 1964 from the American Legion. He called the park’s fiftieth anniversary to the attention of Dukes County Veterans Agent Jo Ann Murphy, who mentioned it at a subsequent Legion Post meeting.

“That’s when the lights went on for me,” said Mr. Rodgers, a musician who formerly served with the Navy Band Northeast before retiring in 1987. “It occurred to me that Flag Day is an opportunity to pay tribute to our country, and here is a group that waves our flag 365 days a year. I asked her permission to seek the band out, to see if we could do a rededication ceremony, and at the same time, a concert.”

With Ms. Murphy’s approval, Mr. Rodgers took the reins as the event’s organizer. He said he ran into a few snags, though, starting with the band’s overnight accommodations.

After calling several local hotels, Mr. Rodgers learned they all require a minimum two-night stay during the summer season. He alerted Lt. Cdr. Gerhard, who took up the search and was able to book 21 rooms at the Vineyard Harbor Motel, thanks to general manager Marcia Moore, who agreed to make a special exception.

“Her help was very much appreciated, because we wouldn’t have been able to pull off the parade, ceremony, and nighttime concert in one day and catch the last ferry,” the band director said.

Navy Band Northeast, established in 1974, is attached to the Naval War College at Naval Station Newport. As one of the U.S. Navy’s 13 official bands stationed worldwide, the group performs over 500 engagements annually in an 11-state area. The band travels in four 15-passenger vans and carries its equipment in a 26-foot truck.

The band performs at the request of the public, through an application process. Although many of its performances are day trips, the band receives operational funding from the U.S. Government for travel expenses, Lt. Cdr. Gerhard said.

“I thought this was a great return on investment, to come out to Martha’s Vineyard and not only play one event, but three,” he said.

Mr. Rodgers said Post 257 will pay a small fee to the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association for use of the Tabernacle, which includes paying an electrician to handle the lights.

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Proudly exhibiting the new Vineyard Haven Harbor Cultural District sign are, from left, Martha's Vineyard Commission planner Christine Flynn; Tisbury selectmen Tristan Israel, Jon Snyder, and Melinda Loberg; and Vineyard Playhouse artistic and executive director MJ Bruder Munafo. — Photo by Janet Hefler

The Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) recently approved the designation of the Vineyard Haven Harbor Cultural District. Tisbury town administrator Jay Grande announced the news at the selectmen’s meeting Tuesday night and presented the selectmen with a new sign provided by the MCC.

The designation is part of a state-wide program the MCC launched in April 2011. Arts Martha’s Vineyard (formerly the Martha’s Vineyard Arts and Culture Collaborative), spearheaded the local cultural district initiative.

Selectman chairman Jon Snyder thanked Martha’s Vineyard Commission planner Christine Flynn and Vineyard Playhouse artistic and executive director MJ Bruder Munafo, who were instrumental in the district’s designation, for all of their hard work.

Ms. Flynn said the process took about a year and a half. Over the last several months, the cultural district’s organizers put together the application, created a map, put together a business inventory, and held several public hearings.

The Vineyard Haven Harbor Cultural District links institutions like the Vineyard Playhouse, the Bunch of Grapes bookstore, the Vineyard Haven Library and the MV Film Center together with art galleries and local arts-related businesses into one unified area.

“We feel very fortunate to have the leadership of the board of selectmen, who provided their support,” Ms. Flynn said. “This has been a great cooperative effort between the public and private and nonprofit sectors, and a great partnership with the Massachusetts Cultural Council, which has done a lot to invest in Vineyard Haven as well as the Island.”

The Vineyard Haven Cultural District will have a searchable online presence among other designated districts on state-sponsored websites and be included in marketing materials.

“We look forward to working with the Massachusetts Cultural Council and continuing our partnership,” Ms. Flynn said.

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Fed up with weeds and trash, Carol Salguero now spends a few hours each week to improve the shabby look of Five Corners.

Weeds are no match for Ms. Salguero when she has a hoe in her hands. — Photo by Tony Omer

Each week, Carol Salguero of West Tisbury puts her gardening skills to work in an effort to beautify the Vineyard Haven post office parking lot. It would seem an impossible task to grow anything in the narrow strip of abused land that separates the sidewalk from the congested parking lot adjacent to the busy Five Corners intersection.

But the woman does not mail it in. Each week, she devotes two hours on Wednesday mornings to the task.

Carol Salguero donates her gardening time at the Vineyard Haven post office.
Carol Salguero donates her gardening time at the Vineyard Haven post office.

Five years ago, tired of the shabby look of the Vineyard’s major point of entry, Vineyard Haven, Ms. Salguero took it upon herself to do something about it. Her mother, the late Jane Gannon, was an early member of the Friends of Tisbury, formed in 1963 to do similar work throughout the town, which included the post office. The group lost steam after almost 50 years, mostly through attrition, according to longtime member Kathy Ivory, now of Edgartown.

“I had a cumulative impression of getting off the ferry and feeling that the whole first sight of Vineyard Haven and Five Corners was so forlorn,” Ms. Salguero said. “It has a weedy, shabby I-don’t-care look about it. It looks like a town that doesn’t care.”

Other than the post office, Ms. Salguero said her gardening is limited to a small vegetable garden at home and a substantial area in her yard she has planted since building her house back in the woods of West Tisbury.

Her post office project began one Sunday, five years ago. She had some extra plants from her home gardening. “I couldn’t bear to throw them away, so I just took them down to the post office,” she said. That was the first of many subsequent trips.

“I didn’t ask for permission and I felt a little odd at first,” she said. She first tackled the strip along Beach Road, a small area, before expanding to work on the rest of the parking area. “From the very first year many people have stopped to say ‘thank you.’ Several people stopped to say they remembered when my mother worked on town gardens with the Friends.”

Ms. Salguero and other volunteers have created a small flower border in the post office parking lot.
Ms. Salguero and other volunteers have created a small flower border in the post office parking lot.

Ms. Salguero has relied on her own ingenuity to come up with materials and help. Several landscapers have donated materials over the years, Heather Gardens and Working Earth among them.  “Working Earth donated the lilies that are in bloom right now,” she said.

Her brother, Vineyard Haven boat builder Ross Gannon, helps out. He has trucked supplies and trimmed the trees along Lagoon Pond Road in front of the post office.

Working primarily by herself, plugging away week after week, she has been unable to keep up with the amount of work required to keep the lot in shape. Recently, acting on a suggestion, she approached Major Sterling Bishop, assistant deputy superintendent of human services at the Dukes County Jail and House of Corrections, about the possibility of getting some help.

Mr. Sterling oversees the inmate volunteer program at the jail. The program gives inmates who have proven their trustworthiness and who are close to re-entering society an opportunity to work in community service programs.

“Last week, two inmates volunteered,” Mr. Bishop told The Times, “and there may be three in the coming weeks.” Ms. Salguero appreciates the help doing some of the more strenuous jobs.

“It is great having some young muscle to do some of the things that are hard for me,” she said. “The three of us got a lot accomplished. We weeded and cleaned the large triangular area at the south end of the parking lot. They were so enthusiastic and said they would return.”

After working 15 years in institutional development and raising three children, Ms. Salguero went back to school to get her masters in public administration at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard in 1989. The last of her children was off to college and she wanted to live abroad again as she had with her former husband, a Spaniard.

Ms. Salguero spent almost 13 years as a journalist in Bolivia and Peru, working as a stringer for US News and World Report, Bloomberg News, the Economist, and a London based mining journal called Metal Bulletin and returned to the Vineyard often for short stays before moving to the Vineyard full-time in the 2003. For ten years she covered the office for the boat building business her brother co-owns, Gannon and Benjamin.

Ms. Salguero has received little more than emotional support and encouragement from the postmasters whose cash-strapped budgets have little money for maintenance, but she thinks her work and the attention brought to the condition of the Five Corners area by the proposed Stop & Shop renovation, which she strongly endorsed, has pushed the post office into action.

“Carol is wonderful and a huge help,” Vineyard Haven postmaster Debbie Chickering told The Times.

Ms. Chickering said that she has received assurances from the post office district office in Boston that money has been allocated for cleaning both the front and back parking areas in the next couple of weeks. She said she expects fence repairs and tree trimming as well. A maintenance team comes down several times a year to take care of routine maintenance, she explained. She is expecting a new roof over the side entrance, with columns sometime this summer.

Ms. Salguero said she will continue her gardening beautification efforts Wednesdays, from 9 until 11 am, and would welcome volunteers and contributions of drought-tolerant plants, and other supplies.

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Photos of long ago Martha’s Vineyard.

The Crocker Harness Factory in Vineyard Haven. — Courtesy Chris Baer

Chris Baer teaches photography and graphic design at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. He’s been collecting vintage photographs for many years.

Crocker Second Harness Factory

The Vineyard Haven skyline was once dominated by this enormous harness factory where today stands the stone bank building. One of the largest factories of its kind in New England, the Crocker Harness Company was easily the largest employer on the Island for two decades, employing over one hundred workers and supplying harnesses throughout the east coast (as well as for two presidents.) For many years the factory whistle became a popular downtown timekeeping device, and the elevator was the first on the Island. This was Crocker’s second harness factory -– the basement of his first, built eleven years earlier, was the origin of the Great Fire of 1883 which completely destroyed the entire downtown area in an enormous and tragic conflagration. This building was burned in a much smaller fire at the turn of the century following the collapse of the company, and ultimately demolished.