It’s been a long time coming for Morning Glory Farm to expand its farm stand. The farm has been overwhelmed in recent summers by the demand for the local produce they sell. This summer that problem may be averted. The new building has been open since Memorial Day weekend, and a formal grand opening was held on Saturday in the post and beam structure that looks like a miniature version of the Agricultural Hall in West Tisbury.
Is it proof that local agriculture is a viable business in this age? “I wouldn’t say this is the proof so much as the leap of faith to prove that it is,” said co-owner Jim Athearn.
The grand opening included hayrides, pony rides, face painting and food demonstrations.
Farm stand manager Patricia Valenti called the festivities a gift to the community and a way to say, “Hey, we’re open, come see us; come check us out.”
New construction is still evident; in front of the building, fresh grass has been planted where just two months ago table saws and lumber occupied the space.
Inside the stand, high ceilings and beautiful woodwork frame tables and boxes filled with colorful fresh produce. Overlooking the vegetable-selling floor is an upstairs that includes the farm’s first official office space. The vertical beams of the railing are carved with images of corn and roosters, done by artist Lori Miller.
Other new additions include an expanded parking area and a windmill.
“We expect it to generate two-thirds or three-quarters of the energy we use in a year,” said Mr. Athearn.
“It’s for a good cause,” said Chloe Nelson, a nine-year employee and assistant cook in the farm kitchen that turns out famously delicious pies and other baked goods. “For anybody who doesn’t believe in that sort of thing, we’re helping Mother Earth, which is very important,” she added.
Morning Glory Farm began 35 years ago when Jim and his wife Debbie opened their little farm stand on the same property.
“People will say to me, ‘Boy you’ve changed so much, you’ve grown so rapidly,’” said Mr. Athearn. “I’ll say, ‘We have?’ All we did was . . . It just seemed incremental. You know, you add a few employees, you rent another field, add another tractor. It seems like the same operation, except this [new building] was kind of a giant leap forward.”
Jim and Debbie began to clear their land in 1969, the same year that their daughter (and first of three children) was born, he said.
Today the farm employs 82 people and leases 120 acres of land for growing vegetables and raising animals. The farm employs many young people, like Leah Kragh, a recent college graduate. “Coming to Morning Glory was the perfect job to have after graduating from college because it’s a lot of positive attitudes — you get positive feedback from people on the Island,” said Ms. Kragh. “It’s definitely something that I enjoy and it gives me a lot more knowledge about the food and the community around me.”
The community that surrounds the Morning Glory farmers is not only a working one; the farm workers also have fun together, among other things participating in occasional talent show nights.
“It’s very cool. There is music, tap dancing; whatever anybody has in mind,” said Ms. Valenti.
And while paying off the mortgage will be the first test for the farm in the near future, Mr. Athearn said: “Our previous experience was proof. The support we were getting all along, the people coming in, the good press, and the favorable comments. Obviously they created us out of their desire. That’s why this whole thing worked out. We like to grow vegetables. They like to buy vegetables. So it’s just a happy synthesis of desires that makes us happy.”