Sustainable Vineyard documentary shorts at Chilmark Community Center

In "The Hidden Life of Conch," Islander Shelley Edmundson shares groundbreaking research about the conch. — Photo courtesy MV Film Center

The Sustainable Vineyard documentary shorts series returns to the Chilmark Community Center this

Thursday, July 30. Three films that played at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center on Earth Day last April will screen: “The Secret Life of the Conch,” “Goatscaping,” and “The Story of Seeds.” Created by filmmakers Liz Witham and Ken Wentworth, the films focus on environmentally visionary Islanders and the issues impacting the Vineyard that they are exploring.

“It’s important to us to involve the seasonal community here,” says Ms. Witham. Each film will be followed by Q & A sessions with local experts, and Ms. Witham and Mr. Wentworth will also discuss their latest film, now in production, about the threatened Northern Long-Eared Bat.

The subject of “The Secret Life of the Conch,” also known as the channeled whelk, comprises the Island’s largest fishery. University of New Hampshire doctoral candidate Shelley Edmundson will share her research on this sparsely documented species. A $6 million Island industry, most local conch are sold in Hong Kong. Ms. Witham has proposed that local chefs should develop menu items featuring conch.

“Goatscaping” points out that invasive shrubs and plants which proliferate on the Island — like bittersweet and poison ivy — can be controlled by goats. These voraciously hungry animals provide a

viable alternative to toxic pesticides, and Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation has used them at Cedar Tree Neck to clear the conservation area of bittersweet. Kristen Fauteux, director of stewardship at Sheriff’s Meadow, will lead the post-screening discussion with Rebecca Gilbert of Native Earth Teaching Farm.

“The Story of Seeds” premiered last March at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival. This film examines three different areas important to local seed production. Representing Polly Hill Arboretum are Executive Director Tim Boland, Curator Tim Clark, and Horticulturist Ian Jochems. They will discuss the importance of native seeds and their Martha’s Vineyard Wild Type program. Noli Taylor, director of Island Grown Schools, will describe the new seed library underway on-Island. Melinda Rabbit DeFeo will illustrate the crop based on a heritage corn seed that she grew with students as part of the Edgartown School Garden Program. Wildlife biologist Luanne Johnson, director of Biodiversity Works, and Assistant Director Elizabeth Baldwin will also participate in the program.

Ms. Witham and Mr. Wentworth will show still images and an overview of their newest episode in the Sustainable Vineyard series on Northern Long-Eared Bats. This species, which lives on-Island, is in danger of extinction. The filmmakers will explain how to identify them, why they should not be killed, and whom to contact when the bats are sighted. Another subject for the series will be ticks like the Lone Star, which are carried by mice as well as deer. Ms. Witham and Mr. Wentworth will premiere three new series episodes in October at the Living Local Harvest Festival. The Sustainable Vineyard event is a fundraiser for the film series.

Tickets and more information are available at