Season of hope

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“Blessings to the families and animals of Flat Point Farm. My mare and I ride the trails out often … we love seeing the sheep, the cows in the meadow, the pretty views out across the water. Thank you for sharing your beautiful farm with our Island community. Sending prayers of comfort and healing to all of you during this time.”  -R. Sanders

The fire that destroyed a barn at Flat Point Farm in the early-morning hours of Tuesday, March 19, was felt throughout the community. News of the devastation — 22 lambs, 12 sheep, two beef cattle, 50 chickens, all dead — spread as quickly as the fire itself. Firefighters from West Tisbury and surrounding towns responded quickly, and were able to spare a second building, but the barn was so fully involved before the fire was discovered that it was a total loss.

“Thanks to all the Fischers and their ongoing contribution to the Island’s heritage of local farming … I am so sorry for the loss of your property and animals, and glad for show of support from our community. May your rebuilding be healing.”  -Niki Patton

That morning, Islanders started showing up at the farm. Other farmers with bales of hay for the remaining animals, because 500 bales were destroyed in the fire. Workers with front-end loaders to help the Fischers bury the dead animals.

“The Island community is 100 percent behind you.”  –Rob Donovan

That’s almost an understatement. Within hours, a family member set up this GoFundMe page, bit.ly/flatpointfarm. Watching the fund grow and the comments pour in — like they did on our Facebook page, as well — was both staggering and heartwarming to watch. People told their stories of visiting the farm, of getting married there, of just how important the farming community is to Martha’s Vineyard. Within 24 hours the fund had surpassed its $50,000 goal to help the families recover. In less than a week, the fund had more than doubled that goal.

“Part of my heart is always on the Vineyard. I volunteer on a small animal farm in [Connecticut], and the losses you’ve sustained are almost unbearable to think about. I pray that you can rebuild successfully, and that you are encouraged by and wrapped in the comfort of the solidarity of the Island community.”  –India Penney

The fundraising wasn’t the only rallying point. Early that day, our reporter Rich Saltzberg spoke with Brian Athearn, president of the Agricultural Society. The tight-knit farming community was already trying to figure out ways it could help Flat Point Farm rebuild. To that end, Athearn is looking for carpenters, farmers, and many others in the community to help with a barn raising. The Ag Society is also sponsoring what we imagine will be one of the most attended events on the Island — a potluck dinner on Saturday, April 6, to raise more funds for Flat Point’s recovery.

“The love and support from the community and beyond is amazing. The generosity to the Fischer family gives them strength and encouragement to rebuild their farm, and hopefully this farm will continue for many more generations to come.”  –Albert Fischer