Thimble Farm, 37 acres of fertile farmland in the center of the Vineyard that recently went on the market for sale, will be saved as a working farm thanks to generous donations from both the owner of the property and two seasonal Vineyard residents, the Island Grown Initiative has confirmed.
IGI president Sarah McKay said the sale of the farm took place Monday. IGI will be the new owner of the farm. Most of the purchase price, which has not been disclosed yet because paperwork was still being signed, was donated by farm owner Eric Grubman and Allan and Shelley Holt of Washington, D.C. and Chilmark. Mr. Grubman, a seasonal resident of Katama, made a “huge contribution” Mrs. McKay said.
“We have been blessed with very generous donors,” she said. “It’s a sense of relief, responsibility, respect, humility. All of it. It’s incredible.”
A coalition called the Martha’s Vineyard Farm Project that included IGI formed last year to try to buy the farm, but the group disbanded three months ago after it was unable to raise much money.
A story in the Gazette last month about the failed venture to buy the farm caught the attention of the Holts, Mrs. McKay said.
Mrs. McKay said after reading the story Mrs. Holt called her friend Mary Kenworth, the co-owner of State Road restaurant and an IGI supporter.
“It’s my understanding . . . she picked up the phone and said to Mary we know you’re involved with IGI, what can we do to help?” said Mrs. McKay.
This marks the second time the farm has been rescued in an 11th-hour sale. Mr. Grubman, executive vice president of the National Football League, bought the property in 2007 for $2.45 million after reading accounts in the Gazette that the farm may be sold into the private residential market. Mr. Grubman bought the property and kept it in food production, but last year he said the time had come for the farm to have new owners.
After the farm project fell apart, Tea Lane Associates listed the property for sale in mid-May for $2.6 million.
Thimble Farm has been in active food production for more than 20 years, beginning with hydroponic tomatoes and berries under its first owners and most recently with the Whippoorwill Farm operation, a vegetable-growing community supported agriculture program. The Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank holds the agricultural preservation restriction on the land.