TTOR announces plans to absorb The FARM Institute

The deal is expected to provide a lifeline for the financially strapped Katama farm-based organization.

File photo courtesy of Mary Bake

The Trustees of Reservations (TTOR), a statewide land trust with six properties located on Martha’s Vineyard, announced plans to take over The FARM Institute, which has its home at Katama Farm in Edgartown, a town-owned 186-acre property that was at one time a dairy farm.

The deal was announced in a press release issued Wednesday afternoon. “The Trustees will provide The FARM Institute with the long-term financial stability and resources to ensure the organization’s continued success, growth, and longevity now and into the future,” TTOR said. “Both organizations are currently working toward the steps needed to complete the first phase of integration by the end of the calendar year.”

Established in 2000, The FARM Institute leases the property from the Edgartown conservation commission. It recently renewed the lease for a second 10-year period. A TTOR takeover of the Farm Institute lease would be subject to conservation commission approval.

TTOR said both organizations have begun “an essential fundraising campaign with a goal of raising $2 million by year end. Funds raised will help create a long-sought-after teaching kitchen for farm-based cooking programs, as well as an endowment to support property stewardship, operations, and program growth for many years to come.”

TTOR currently manages the nearby Norton Point Beach for Dukes County. It also owns or manages miles of beach on Chappaquiddick, in addition to Long Point Reservation in West Tisbury and Menemsha Hills Reservation in Chilmark.

“We are excited about the possibility of welcoming The FARM Institute into our growing network of properties, as well as increasing agricultural preservation, education and programming on Martha’s Vineyard,” Barbara Erickson, Trustees’ president and CEO, said in prepared remarks. “Our agricultural and conservation missions are so perfectly aligned, with a shared belief that connecting people to place, land, and where our food comes from is integral to healthy, active living and creating a more sustainable food system.”

“We look forward to continuing our successful farming operation and educational programming for Island residents and visitors, while growing and expanding our vision for the property well into the future with The Trustees by our side,” said Jon Previant, FARM Institute executive director.

There is no sale, because there is basically nothing to sell. In a telephone conversation Wednesday, Mr. Previant said TTOR will acquire the limited assets of the FARM Institute, which will continue to exist as a nonprofit. “What we have is a summer camp and some livestock,” he said.

TTOR saw value in the camp and family programs, and wants to expand the model for its other properties, which include farms.