With bouquets all around, the ownership of historic Tea Lane Farm in Chilmark was formally handed to flower farmer Krishana Collins this week.
Ms. Collins attended the selectmen’s meeting Tuesday to sign a long-term lease with the town for the farmhouse.
“Let’s make it happen,” said selectman Warren Doty. “Let’s give her the keys and let’s have her own the farm.”
Ms. Collins signed a 75-year lease that includes a historic preservation restriction on the 256-year-old farmhouse, and gave a check to the town for $20,000 — all terms that had been agreed on ahead of time.
The money will go into the town affordable housing trust.
Ms. Collins presented the three selectmen with bouquets of sunflowers.
“We tried to make them kind of manly,” she smiled. “Thank you for everything. This is incredible.”
“Everybody who drives down Middle Road will be anxious to see [the farm in active use],” Mr. Doty said.
“Everyone is very excited; it’s very nice to see it happen,” agreed selectman Jonathan Mayhew.
The town and the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank jointly bought the farmhouse and surrounding land at the intersection of Tea Lane and Middle Road in 2001. Bobbie Silva, who lived in the house, was given a life estate until his death, which occurred in 2010. After that, a town farm committee was formed to develop a plan for keeping the property as a working farm and allowing someone to live in the old farmhouse, which needs significant repairs. Ms. Collins was selected as a tenant farmer in May from a group of 13 applicants. She will hold a separate lease with the land bank for the 51 acres of farmland.
She must live on the farm 11 months of the year and must pay for all the improvements; a grant of $100,000 from the town community preservation fund will assist with farmhouse renovations. Ms. Collins will now relocate her flower-growing operation from off Old County Road in West Tisbury to Chilmark. She plans to plant a cover crop her first year on the property, and in the second year grow 10,000 lilies, 12,000 zinnias, 6,000 sunflowers and 3,000 dahlias, among other things. She also grows salad greens, broccoli and bok choy.
In other business Tuesday, the selectmen took up the perennial issue of summer traffic congestion in Menemsha.
“There is an extraordinary amount of traffic in Menemsha this summer; I don’t have a proposal for doing anything about it but several evenings I think there are as many as 250 cars down there,” Mr. Doty said.
He continued: “I don’t have a proposal but this summer seems more intense than ever. It’s no longer just some busy nights; it’s now extraordinary. It’s gone way beyond what we’re used to.”
Selectman Bill Rossi agreed and said he would like to discuss the issue more this fall.
“I think there’s a problem. It feels like Disney World when you’re driving through and everyone is walking in the road and not paying attention,” Mr. Rossi said. “We have to find an overflow solution.”