The chrysanthemums are out, Morning Glory Farm is a sea of orange with pumpkins on display, and there’s a little extra crunch under your feet as the first fall leaves begin to drift downwards. Juicy apples, hot cider and roasted butternut squash fill Vineyard kitchens, and the students at Island schools are busy harvesting corn for popping and potatoes for soup. Fall is in the air.
At the intersection of eating well and knowing where your food comes from is the question of how to live sustainably, something the fourth annual Living Local Harvest Festival hopes to answer tomorrow.
The free festival is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society Hall in West Tisbury, followed by a community potluck at 6 p.m.
“It really is a celebration, but we’re really trying to emphasize it’s a balance,” festival organizer Randi Baird said earlier this week. “It’s a celebration but also a place for people to get information and a resource. We want to pique people’s interest; people really do have to change the way we behave and live.
“It’s small steps,” she added. “This event is trying to provide information for people.”
Festival attendees will have the opportunity to learn about viable wind farm projects from Vineyard Power, retrofitting buildings with energy efficient improvements from the South Mountain Company, and receive free lightbulbs from the Cape Light Compact. Have an old air conditioner that you don’t want anymore? Turn it in at the festival and receive a $35 rebate from Crane Appliance in Vineyard Haven.
“We’ve asked all the [exhibitors] to go out and go beyond the tabletop and have some more experiential stuff going on,” Ms. Baird said.
Martha’s Vineyard Fishermen’s Association president Warren Doty is promoting sustainable fishing practices, highlighting the success of fluke in Vineyard waters. Another successful sustainable practice on the Island is bee pollination programs, something Everett Zurlinden from Bee Haven Apiary will be explaining. Mr. Zurlinden supplied beehives to Islanders this spring to assist in pollinating their crops.
David Whitmon will bring his human-powered vehicle, the Velomobile, which is a three-wheeled vehicle built within an aerodynamic shell capable of going as fast as a car, at least as fast as the maximum Island speed. Mr. Whitmon’s carbon-neutral vehicle hit 44 miles per hour, and is something he describes as the future.
Even though Mr. Whitmon’s car needs no fuel, powering it does require extra nourishment. Food fuel that is, and there will be plenty of it. If you want something to munch on, apple and honey tastings are available as well as baked goods from Orange Peel Bakery, but if you’re looking for something more substantial, Morning Glory Farm will have hamburgers, soup, corn bread and pumpkin squares for sale, and Christina Cordozoa will be dishing out burritos and fresh lemonade.
There’s also the option to make your own apple cider at a pressing station or milk North Tabor Farm goats. Chris Fischer will be roasting a pig all day long on the fair grounds to serve at the evening’s potluck dinner.
Island Grown Initiative will have their mobile processing unit for people to learn about raising chickens in their backyard, and will discuss their on-going study of a four-legged processing facility for the Island. Earlier in the week, IGI helped Vineyard kids get a jump on the harvest festival when they participated in Massachusetts Harvest for Students Week. Island schools went on field trips to the Farm Institute, harvested from their own school gardens and made locally-grown school lunches.
“If people can take one thing they’ll change in their life to make living on the Island more sustainable,” Ms. Baird said, “maybe it’s changing their light bulbs, maybe it’s joining Vineyard Power or getting involved in some way to make a difference like raising chickens for their family.”
To work off the delicious food, attendees can dance a jig with Island bands serenading the festival throughout the day, including Phil daRosa, Jemima James, Bones & Co, Dan Waters, Jellybone Rivers and Goodnight Louise for the potluck. Brendan O’Neill is leading a guided walk around the ag hall including the adjacent Frances Newhall Woods Sanctuary; walkers will learn about sustainable living efforts from the Vineyard Conservation Society by protecting local farms and fisheries.
With any luck, the music will be heard above the drone of the antique power engines on show and the splats from pumpkins flying through the air. “One of the big highlights is Morning Glory bringing over their huge catapult,” co-organizer Sarah McKay said of the pumpkin chucking trebuchet. “It should be a big draw for people. It can send pumpkins at least a few hundred feet.”
Those who don’t want to catapult their pumpkins can carve them for an early Halloween decoration; other “little locals” activities include face painting, a hay bale maze, book swapping and painting a horse. Therapeutic riding center Rising Tide is bringing one of their horses to the festival to be painted with soy-based paint, and the Martha’s Vineyard Horse Council’s annual Fall Fuzzy Horse Show will bring out costumed horses vying for best Vineyard theme from across the Island.
After a full day of community activities, there’s time for a much needed afternoon nap before the slow food potluck begins at 6 p.m. Diners are asked to prepare a dish for six people, bring their own place setting and enjoy each other’s company. The Black Brook Singers of the Wampanoag Tribe will perform a blessing before the meal.
“There are two pieces to what people should take away from the festival,” Ms. McKay said. “One is the celebration of it, and the other piece is learning new things of what we can do together, whether it’s individually or a family or how we can get together as a community and create change.”