To the Editor:
Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society (MVAS) and Vineyard Conservation Society (VCS) are pleased to announce that MVAS will host the West Tisbury Farmers Market once again this season at its property on Panhandle Road.
In 2020, the Farmers Market relocated to the MVAS property to allow for social distancing. Now, with the COVID restrictions lifting (hopefully for good), marketgoers will notice some changes to the layout from the past two years. For example, parking will be moved off the main field, and farmer stalls will be grouped closer together, with the market itself being set up in the same area used by vendors at the annual Agricultural Fair. This will have the beneficial result of mitigating impacts to the site by reducing soil-compaction stress to the field, and concentrating higher impact uses to one limited area.
MVAS and VCS share the goals of promoting agriculture and allowing use and enjoyment of the MVAS property as an exceptional community resource, while scrupulously observing the intent and purpose of an agricultural preservation restriction (APR) placed on MVAS’s Panhandle Road property by Edwin and Jeanne Woods, themselves longtime supporters of both MVAS and VCS. For 30 years, our two organizations (along with the town of West Tisbury, which co-holds the APR and must oversee its own zoning bylaws) have cooperated to strike an appropriate balance in the use of the MVAS property. Every winter, all the parties collaborate and discuss the various activities planned for the upcoming season. This year, the Farmers Market requested that it be allowed to permanently relocate to the MVAS property. This presented the concern of consequent site impacts which may result from long-term Farmers Market use.
Both MVAS and VCS have been working hard for the past several months, and have developed a plan that we expect will limit site impacts and honor the Woods family’s generosity. We are happy with the outcome. The Farmers Market is one of the truest expressions of the intent of the APR, and of our two organizations: that the land be used to support local farmers, and promote the agricultural spirit of West Tisbury and the Island as a whole. We look forward to seeing everyone at the market this summer!
Brian Athearn, MVAS president
Jennifer Blum, VCS president