Group gauges wants, needs at Katama Farm

Darcie Lee Hanaway will use survey data as part of a bid application.

A group looking to apply for the Katama Farm RFP is gauging community interest with a survey.

A group of young farmers, artists, and entrepreneurs is reaching out to the community through a survey as it puts together an application for the Katama Farm’s request for proposals (RFP). 

The Edgartown conservation commission and the Katama Farm stewardship committee are looking for a new steward or stewards to take the reins of Katama Farm through the RFP process, after the town severed ties with the Trustees of Reservations and the Farm Institute following disputes over the farm’s use

Led by garden designer and mixed media artist Darcie Lee Hanaway, the grassroots effort created the non-binding survey to gauge interest from the Island community. Hanaway is gathering data to eventually submit an application for the RFP. 

Hanaway has lived on the Island for close to 15 years. She owns and operates a garden design and maintenance company and is a mixed-media artist. She’s also assembled a team of like-minded individuals who include Jason Danielson, Ian Murphy, Greg Rubick, and Melanie Englert.

“As a young person I think I’ve come into contact with what young people need on this Island so my team is a team of 30-somethings who are all looking for an opportunity and way to survive on the Island,” Hanaway said. 

Hanaway has collected 87 responses and counting. She said she will continue to circulate the survey until applications for the RFP are due and use the data to show the stewardship committee the need for more opportunities for young farmers, artists, and entrepreneurs.

“I’ll use this data to show that I’ve actually reached out to our community and I’m not an independent farmer looking for more land. That I am looking to serve the community and our needs,” Hanaway said. 

The conservation commission will advertise the RFP soon, according to town conservation agent Jane Varkonda. Once the RFP is advertised, applicants will have three weeks to submit proposals.

“Our vision is to grow the Katama Farm into a legacy for the town of Edgartown, and see it through to becoming a thriving epicenter of agriculture, arts, ecology, education and opportunity. We are dedicated to co-creatorship on all levels to encourage and exemplify the connection between our environment, agriculture, community, arts and economics. We will use holistic land management practices, organic methods, Olmsted inspired design, and a genuine love for our community to achieve our vision,” the mission statement reads.