The Grey Barn and Farm of Chilmark began as an idea in Dubai, the ostensible city of the future in the United Arab Emirates. And now owners Eric and Molly Glasgow are edging toward the day when they will have created a viable dairy farm on the former Rainbow Farm property in Chilmark that they purchased from David Douglas earlier this summer.
This week the fields are fallow, the grass is tall. The barn is quiet and empty of animals. The corral that was once held prizewinning Charolais cattle is overgrown. But the Glasgows plan to repopulate the farm with dairy cattle.
The new, rather worldly owners are going through a career change. A year ago, the Glasgows were in London. Mr. Glasgow, 37, worked in oil trading for an international company, Vitol. The couple and their two children had traveled extensively. They had lived in New York, Houston and then London, spending summers on the Vineyard.
When his firm asked him last fall to move yet again, the couple had another idea: Mr. Glasgow would retire from oil trading. “They asked us to move again. We didn’t want to move,” he said.
The Vineyard rose to the top of their list of places to live. “We’d saved for 15 years,” said Mrs. Glasgow. It was time to make an entirely different kind of move, an investment in their future.
While on holiday in Dubai in February, they talked about their dream and looked at listings of properties on the Internet, discovering that Rainbow Farm was up for sale. Mr. Glasgow grew up in Swampscott; his wife grew up in Houston. He attended the University of Chicago, where he majored in economics. After college he worked for Morgan Stanley for five years.
They have been married for 10 years.
The Vineyard was their annual vacation spot when their children arrived. Now Noah, age six, has entered the Chilmark School as a first grader. Their son Jakie is four.
The Glasgows said the Vineyard was attractive to them as a year-round place to live for a variety of reasons. The Island is a farming community but it isn’t rural in the traditional sense of the word; there is a lot of culture, a lot going on.
“It is not just beaches,” Mrs. Glasgow said.
Mr. Glasgow said last March when they traveled to the Island to look at the Rainbow Farm property as prospective buyers, they were struck by the beauty of the farm, covered in a blanket of freshly fallen snow. But they were also struck by the people they met, including owners David and Laura Douglas. Everyone, including the real estate agent, sought to help them feel at home.
The Glasgows bought 68 of the roughly 103 acres that make up the farm. Mr. Douglas still retains 35 acres of the farm; all the land save the farmhouse and barn is covered by an agricultural preservation restriction held by the Trustees of Reservations. The Glasgows recently renewed the lease with the Trustees for 31 more years.
A longtime gardener with an interest in food, Mrs. Glasgow said the idea of owning a farm was natural.
The Glasgows are still exploring their options, meeting the community and learning the ropes of their newly chosen profession.
For the moment, Mrs. Glasgow can only visualize a vegetable garden for their own needs, but they both see milk, cheese and other dairy products in the future.
Mrs. Glasgow said they would like to start out with 50 head of cattle and 20 to 25 milking cows. She said they want the animals to be 100 per cent grass-fed, with a tentative plan to have a working farm up and running by the spring of 2011. For now, they are doing homework, and looking to learn from their farming neighbors and Chilmark town boards.
“We are extraordinarily sensitive about not being a gorilla going into a china shop [in establishing relationships with this community],” Mr. Glasgow said. He said he recognizes that there are many other successful working farms on the Island, and he wants to be a good neighbor as well as a good farmer.
As their first winter on the farm approaches, the Glasgows are busy with new fencing and prepping the fields. By spring they hope to begin work on renovating the century-old barn.
Mrs. Glasgow is sharing the journey on her new blog: blog.thegreybarnandfarm.com and their yet-to-be-launched Web site, thegreybarnandfarm.com.