Island Grown Initiative will receive 2019 Creative Living Award

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The Permanent Endowment for Martha’s Vineyard announces that Island Grown Initiative (IGI) will be the 2019 recipient of the Creative Living Award. The award is inspired by Ruth Bogan, whose initial gift in 1983 helped launch the endowment. According to a press release, the award encapsulates Bogan’s goal to recognize individuals or organizations that “enhance and preserve the quality of life on the Vineyard forever,” and bring “creativity and ingenuity” to their work. IGI is only the fifth organization to receive the Creative Living Award since it began 37 years ago.

IGI was founded in 2006 by a group of Islanders who wanted to ensure that local food sources were preserved and healthy eating habits were promoted. Today, the release states, IGI is a multifaceted organization which operates several innovative programs, including Island Grown Schools, which teaches children how to grow, prepare, and eat healthy food. Every school and preschool on the Island has a garden where children can get their hands dirty, and where working with food is integrated across the curriculum.

IGI also supports a community lunch program, which runs while school is not in session, to address food insecurity among the 40 percent of students who receive subsidized lunch vouchers. This year IGI will serve more than 6,000 meals to Island youth, and their families or caregivers.

The Farm Hub, located at Thimble Farm, experiments with new techniques, including a pilot program on regenerative farming, to encourage innovation and education among farmers and family gardeners. 

IGI’s gleaning program rescues produce in the field that would go to waste, and redistributes the food to those in need. The organization also rescues food from local grocery stores for distribution and processing into soups and stews for housebound Islanders. 

A broadening composting project addresses food waste collected from restaurants, schools, and grocers, and is turning that waste into compost. This year, according to the release, IGI will collect and process over 320 tons of food waste.

A Mobile Farmers Market operates in summer, distributing healthy produce, eggs, and honey at reduced prices in lower-income neighborhoods. 

“IGI has, in a word, been remarkable,” Anne Williamson, the chair of the endowment’s board, said in the release. “IGI’s broad stable of work touches many Island families, and the team’s enthusiasm and commitment to problem-solving and innovation are contagious.”

The award presentation and a celebration of IGI will be held on Thursday, Oct. 10, at the Farm Hub at Thimble Farm, inside its 32,000-square-foot hydroponic and aquaponic greenhouse. All are welcome.

The Permanent Endowment for Martha’s Vineyard is the Island’s community foundation. Established in 1982, its purpose is to put charitable contributions to work for the people of Martha’s Vineyard by making grants to local public and nonprofit organizations, funding scholarships for Island students, and building an endowment that will provide resources to address the community’s needs in perpetuity. More information on the Permanent Endowment is available at endowmv.org or at 508-338-4665.