At first I didn’t make the connection, seeing the Facebook invite to Radio Farm’s open house, and when I arrived to check out what I’ve been watching transform from the road for months, I was greeted by Brad Tucker. Brad is a 10th-generation Vineyarder who grew up on a West Tisbury farm. Radio Farm is directly across State Road from the Ag Hall property. In fact, a number of years ago, I used to buy eggs and vegetables from Susie Middleton’s farmstand there.
I followed the signs to the back field parking area, bordered by a planted field abutted by a white geodesic dome and a large hoop house. I parked in the shade and headed back, first crossing a Land Bank trail that runs through a section of the property from Old Courthouse Road, past an area set up for gathering around an outdoor fire, a large fenced flower garden, a Monarch Waystation, and a small workshop belonging to Brad Tucker and Liz Ragone, who make up Rafter Revivers to “repurpose natural elements and transform them into functional works of art for the home.” In 2019 my favorite piece at the Ag Fair had been made by these two artisans, a table with what appeared to be a water element running through it, with river stones. Rafter Revivers, with their shop in Tisbury, will remain their woodworking business. The shop is located next to Bryan Begley of Valley Timber Frames, who passes on all his end cuts to Brad.
Their shared home remains private, but pretty much every other area is welcoming, transforming, and a joy to hang out at, from the Monarch Waystation to the Tulsi Tea nook beyond the flowers for sale. Their roommate, Kelly Donlan, who works at Indigo Farms, is a “tremendous help” all around. Also Kyle Gaboury helps in any way he can. Brad and Liz (originally from Cataumet) moved to this 87-acre property a couple of years ago. You might say transformation is a way of life for these two. As soon as they got to their present home, Brad says, “There was lots of heavy equipment, and we had a lot of time on our hands via COVID.” He added, “The place was a mess, covered with debris, brush, and trash, and we just started doing it.” In fact, there was a delineation of duty: Brad did the clearing, and Liz created the gardens and was in charge of “beautifying.”
We go back to how they met: Liz worked at Offshore Ale, and he was playing music in a band there regularly. They enjoyed each other, but Brad recounts one particular afternoon when he was talking to Liz “and we were sitting outside in the sunlight, and she was staring into the sun and her eyes turned bright green. She was telling me something, and I didn’t hear a word of it. I had to stop her in her tracks and said, ‘I don’t know what you’re saying, but your eyes are completely mesmerizing.’ And then I ran away. And then we just kept bumping into each other over and over. It was meant to be.”
They began dreaming and implementing their dreams on what is now Radio Farm between bouts of intense work to raise funds to continue manifesting their growing vision of what Radio Farm can and will be, for them and the greater Island community. They’ve applied for a 501(c)(3) to create their nonprofit. They plan a network of hiking trails that will run all the way to County Road, but there are so many details they’re already working on. Brad, who “loves a good challenge,” will make anything anyone comes up with. Ralph, their blue Neapolitan mastiff–Cane Corso mix, came galumphing toward us before running off with his dog posse visitors.
Liz has a small shed with bouquets of dried flowers hanging from the ceiling. From there we made our way past a swing with an inlay she did of the Island. Brad plans a large swing to hold two to three people, and wants to get “as many swings hanging as there is room for.” Then there’s the chess area, with standing-height chess tables. One is in place now, with organic-shaped ceramic chess pieces made by Jennifer Langhammer. Once the other tables are installed, there’s a chess club planning to use this shaded outdoor space.
When we walked over to the shed/gallery, Victoria Wolf was there to greet us. Liz introduced us, saying, “She has the most amazing work inside.” Nearly everything for sale uses material sourced from the property. The flower bar borders the front of the building, where a customer can pull assorted fresh flowers and bring them over to the Bouquet Bar to create their arrangements and choose from various shaped and colored glass bottles, or even buy a ceramic vase, one that would be difficult to distinguish from the tin cans of tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, or tomatoes they emulate, all made by Jennifer Langhammer. Liz looks forward to offering future “Sip and Snip” events (nonalcoholic). Although you can get fresh flowers, Liz’s focus is on dried flower arrangements, elegant and minimal, in her homemade wall pockets and stands.
As we talk flowers, Liz says, “We want this to be an event space.” And honestly, it’s shaping up to be an incredible event space. There’s an outdoor stage area for bands bordered by a couple of tree trunks cut into benches, with backs and hay bales extending the seating, topped off with hanging lights delineating the event area. In fact musicians and bands, all friends of Brad, would be dropping by through the evening after playing the Reggae Festival. Brad says Radio Farm is “homegrown tunes and blooms and everyone can stop by.” Both Brad and Liz want Radio Farm “to be a blessing for everyone in West Tisbury and beyond, somewhere the community can always feel welcome and be proud of.”
Learn more about Brad and Liz’s beginnings at mvtimes.com/2019/02/06/if-they-build-it. Radio Farm Gallery is on Instagram, but there is no website yet (Brad needs a couple of rainy days to get it done). You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or therafterrevivers.com.