Living Local Harvest Festival is the place to be Saturday

Cian Davis, surrounded by pumpkins at last year's Harvest Fesitval. — File photo by Ralph Stewart

As Vineyarders and visitors luxuriate in the leisure time and luscious weather that September brings, there is no better place to enjoy the season than this weekend’s annual Living Local Harvest Festival. The much anticipated event at the M.V. Agricultural Society in West Tisbury offers a Saturday, September 27, filled with family fun, great food, and plenty of education and information.

“I feel like it’s exploded! People are looking forward and want to be part of it,” said organizer Nevette Previd last week, marveling at the energy and enthusiasm surrounding preparations for this year’s Living Local. “So many organizations and individuals have stepped up, we’re really fortunate.” She said more supporters, presenters, vendors, and volunteers have joined in the make the festival richer, busier, more varied and more fun than ever.

“The festival is about educating Islanders about what we have, what we need to work on, and what we need to do to make sure it’s there for generations to come,” Ms. Previd said.

Presentations, demonstrations, talks, and exhibits will focus on significant aspects of Island life including farming, fishing, prudent energy use, land conservation, and more. The packed schedule includes Warren Doty solving the mystery of “How to Filet a Fish, a discussion of” “Backyard Chickens” moderated by Jefferson Monroe of Good Farm, and “Prize Winning Compost” with Chris Riger. Farmer Richard Andre and others will explore efforts to get a USDA slaughterhouse and meatpacking facility for the Island, and a mouth-watering demonstration by cookbook author Cathy Walthers shows how to make the most of your tomato harvest.

Sidney Morris and the Farm Institute oxen will show their stuff, and Rusty Gordon of Ghost Island Farm will describe his membership-based food cooperative planned for next spring. In his talk, “CO-OPS and B-CORPS: The Art of Business for the 21st Century,” John Abrams of South Mountain Company will outline innovative business models based on collaboration, cooperation, and community accountability. Get some new cooking ideas at the “Wild Food Culinary Adventure,” and hear about shell recovery and recycling projects with Jessica Kanozak. The Vineyard Conservation Society booth will show projects and progress, and the Cape Light Compact will be on hand with energy ideas and info.

No overview of the most important things in Island life would be complete without a look back as well as ahead. Ms. Previd announced that the Martha’s Vineyard Museum will present an extensive photographic exhibit “to show where we’ve come from and where we are now.”

Adding to this reflection on the past, the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society’s lush new book, “Bountiful,” by Susan Klein and photographer Alan Brigish will be on sale, and Ms. Klein will be on hand to sign copies. Packed with decades worth of historic and current photos, the carefully researched volume traces the history and evolution of the Ag Society and the Fair from 1865 to 2011.

“If we want to preserve and pass on to the next generation what we have, we need to learn from our past, and realize we need to protect the future,” Ms. Previd said.

Tasty tastings organized by Slow Food Martha’s Vineyard are sure to draw many visitors to sample and learn about what’s possible in local food production. Try and compare honey from the Island Bee and Martha’s Vineyard Honey companies, crunch on Island-grown popcorn from Native Earth Teaching Farm, sample Mermaid Farm’s lassi and yogurt, Lattanzi’s sorbet, and Orange Peel Bakery’s delicacies. Among the more unusual tastings are Kimchi from the Kitchen Porch and seaweed, a new contribution from the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group.

Children will have plenty of fun opportunities to learn and play. Sassafras Earth Education will offer crafts, nature games, and a fire circle and Melinda deFeo of Island Grown Initiative and others will conduct fun and educational hands-on activities. Kids can plant their own seedling at the Community Solar Greenhouse of Martha’s Vineyard booth while they learn some gardening basics, or adventure into the world of wild edibles with Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary.

Brave young festival goers can wend their way through the traditional hay bale maze and there will be pumpkins for carving and decorating. Less fortunate pumpkins will be flying through the air, tossed by the dramatic catapult from Morning Glory Farm. For zany fun, visitors of all ages can place their bets on cow chip bingo, paint colorful designs on docile farm animals, or grab a brush and add to a community mural.

Food vendors will be plentiful and their offerings delicious Ms. Previd promised. Hearty lunches and snacks, many using local ingredients, will be served by such favorites as Morning Glory Farm, Local Smoke, 7a Foods, Beetlebung Farm, and the Farm Institute. Island musicians will play throughout the day, adding to the festive atmosphere. For those who want to join in, Rick Bausman will hold a drum workshop at 10:30 am.

At the rear of the Fairgrounds, engines will chug, sputter, and whirr, as the popular annual Antique Power Show demonstrates motors from tiny to huge, and vintage car buffs show off their shiny, meticulously restored vehicles.

The down-home celebration continues into the evening with a potluck dinner highlighting local produce and products (bring your own place setting!), followed by contra dancing with music by the Flying Elbows.

Living Local Harvest Festival, Saturday, September 29, 10 am to 3 pm, and Harvest Potluck, 6 to 10 pm, Agricultural Hall, West Tisbury. Rain date Sunday, September 30. See or