Island couple anchor Scottish Bakehouse garden

Jillian MacLeod (left) and Benjamin Gramkowski display one of the cold frames filled with leafy greens in front of their West Tisbury home garden. — Photo by Tony Omer

Daniele Dominick, owner of the Scottish Bakehouse points to the winged pitchfork — the Bakehouse logo — tattooed on her arm. “This represents the link to our garden,” she said during a recent conversation in her busy establishment located on State Road in the outskirts of Vineyard Haven.

The garden occupies the lot behind the Bakehouse and is an integral part of what makes the bakery and takeout cafe a popular year-round destination for Islanders and visitors. Much of what is raised is used in the dinners and sandwiches that fly out the door.

Ms. Dominick has owned and operated the Scottish Bakehouse since 2002. She said that she buys much of her vegetables from local, preferably organic, sources when it is available and supplements that with what is grown in the garden. “I like the idea of growing what we serve,” she said. “I think our customers like the idea of seeing where their food is coming from.”

She is too busy running the Bakehouse to work the garden herself. She prefers to focus on cooking. Responsibility for the garden in January went to a young couple, Benjamin Gramkowski and Jillian MacLeod.

The Gramkowski-MacLeod team is not new to the challenges of gardening on Martha’s Vineyard. Over the last two years, they have carved their own garden out of the woods in West Tisbury where they live. They see the two projects as complementary. They have kale and lettuce growing in cold frames at home and have begun trays of sprouting leafy greens in one of the two greenhouses at the Bakehouse. Their home garden will be for home use and the Bakehouse garden will help stock the Bakehouse kitchen.

The Bakehouse garden has a half dozen 4- by 20-foot raised beds and two Quonset hut style greenhouses. One of them, about 45 feet long, is covered by plastic; the other, a 70-footer without a cover, is awaiting repair from the ravages of this past winter.

The garden is surrounded by a high steel fence intended to keep out the highest jumping deer. There is also a composting area large enough to park a good size pickup, with a small mountain of coffee grounds and vegetable matter.

Ms. MacLeod, 25, and Mr. Gramkowski, 26, graduated from the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School a year apart. They knew each other then but not well. They teamed up after college and have been together for four years.

Ms. MacLeod developed her interest in gardening while working toward a degree in environmental studies at Mt. Holyoke College in South Hadley. She took some courses in agriculture and spent time out on local farms. “Seeing the farms and the farming lifestyle sparked my interest,” she said.

She worked summers at the restaurant-coffee shop Mocha Mott’s where she now works full-time.

Mr. Gramkowski said he developed his green thumb helping out in the family garden growing up in Edgartown where he said he specialized in eating cherry tomatoes. He studied international politics and German at Suffolk University in Boston. Mr. Gramkowski gets to cook what he grows. His full-time job is cooking at the Bakehouse.

The Bakehouse garden is not alien territory to the young couple. They previously worked for Emily Palmer when she ran the garden and like Ms. Palmer they hope to produce a surplus, particularly starter plants, that they will sell at a stand in the Bakehouse parking lot.

They were able to set up their cold frames, clear more land and completely re-work the stone wall around their home garden this winter although much of their winter gardening activity was spent “stressing out about weather conditions,” according to Mr. Gramkowski.

“We expected this winter to be mild like last winter, which it wasn’t, but the seed catalogues began coming in in February and we started making plans for the gardens and picking out seeds,” Ms. MacLeod said.

At the end of February they began germinating some of the seed inside in their small cottage and in one of the Bakehouse greenhouses. Much of the seed starting will be staggered through March, they said. Their plans are to put the peas in the ground this week. Kale, zucchini, beans, potatoes, beets, carrots, tomatoes and herbs will follow.

Their intention is to plant similar gardens both at home and at the Bakehouse. “The Bakehouse garden will be on a grander scale,” said Mr. Gramkowski. He expects that all of the produce from the Bakehouse garden will end up in the Bakehouse kitchen.

They said they think they work together well. Their primary goal is to be as food self-sufficient as possible, but their primary interests in how they get there vary.

“I like seeding and seeing all the baby plants come up,” Ms. MacLeod said. “That’s my favorite part. I never get tired of seeing them come up out of the soil.”

Mr. Gramkowski said, “I like the planting phase, planning where everything goes and what it’s all going to look like and building the structures and walls.”

“We make good partners,” she said.