When customers walk into the Morning Glory Farm stand off Meshacket Road in the outskirts of Edgartown, there is something homey about the scene, a feast for the senses. Workers carry in bushels of beans, the knees of their dungarees baggy and stained from a morning’s work in the fields. Bakers emerge from the farm kitchen balancing trays of fragrant, still-warm blueberry muffins. And owner Jim Athearn hoists huge burlap bags of sweet corn over his shoulder, emptying them onto a round table.

Call it a Morning Glory moment. Sons Daniel and Simon Athearn hope to see many more of these moments for many more years to come.

“I get a lot of satisfaction out of . . . watching all the people come in and get excited,” said Simon, seated next to his brother on the farm stand porch, in an interview this week.

“People obviously want the farm stand feeling,” added Daniel. “You have a hard time believing it is all real. When people can find that it fits what they want to feel about farming, rural living or good food it just adds to their experience . . . I like to think that people like shopping here because we are an Island family. It works for me. I’m proud about it being a family-run business.”

Daniel, 31, and Simon, 33, grew up working on the family farm, and every year their parents, Jim and Debbie, gave them more responsibilities. What started as working a few half days a week as teenagers has turned into roles of senior managers today. Simon manages all the field work and kitchen responsibilities, while Daniel is in charge of maintenance, machines and transplanted crops. But the brothers insist it is still very much a family effort.

“It’s still all of us for sure,” Simon said. “It’s all Mom, Dad, Simon and Dan can do.”

“My father takes care of the corn almost entirely,” Daniel said, in addition to the pumpkin patch. “We’re starting to take on projects from start to finish in almost everything else. The corn is his thing.”

Jim and Debbie Athearn started Morning Glory Farm in 1975, and what began as a small vegetable plot is today a diverse farm operation that includes 50 acres of fruits and vegetables, two acres of cut flowers, plus beef, pork, chicken and eggs.

But if they were born to farming, Simon and Daniel weren’t always wedded to it. Simon spent his summers picking vegetables in the mornings and went to the beach in the afternoons or worked at a deli in downtown Edgartown. Daniel worked for many years at the Edgartown Yacht Club, and after high school wanted to study marine science.

“I kind of ignored the farm; it wasn’t a part of me. I wanted to be on the water,” he said. When he described trying to pick beans for the first time, he grimaced. “I just wanted to go to the beach.”

But while off at college, Daniel found himself feeling the tug of the farm, and when spring came he couldn’t wait to return to plowing and planting. “Daydreaming about farming made me realize maybe I didn’t need to be studying marine science,” he said.

“Our parents were amazing in not pressuring us to be involved with the farm,” said Simon, who after high school went off-Island to attend culinary school in New Hampshire followed by business school in Montana. “Even as teenagers there was no pressure . . . When we were ready, they were ready for us,” he said.

Of course they recall that they all — Daniel, Simon and sister Prudence — had regular farm chores every day; animals needed tending and Sundays were spent haying.

“Our parents were always looking out for us as kids to enjoy the farm life,” Simon said. “Dad would do things like, if we needed an irrigation pond, he would make sure there was a tree with a rope hanging from it and dig it to make sure that we had a swimming hole and gave us opportunities to do fun jobs [like] climb mountains of hay or drive tractors as teenagers.”

The two brothers have worked together since they had a lemonade stand on the front lawn and sold twisted carrots and wilted lettuce.

Did they ever fight? They can’t remember.

“Really, it’s so easy to work with him, we work together very easily,” Simon said. “We’ve worked together for so long it’s more of a flow.”

Daniel agreed. “It’s the kind of thing where I reach for a wrench and Simon’s already passing it to me. He very much sees things the same when there’s a problem. Also, we’re different, so we can solve things we wouldn’t be able to solve on our own,” he said.

But even after all their years on the farm, they still consider themselves amateurs. Every day is a learning process, they say, whether that means experimenting with new crops or figuring out a layout for the new stand. And the success of the farm has been a motivator.

“The demand has just pushed us. We keep running out of vegetables and have to plant more and more,” Simon said. Building the new farm stand last year was a huge step, and both brothers admit they had a hard time committing to the project.

“Change is hard sometimes. We were not all that excited at the idea of taking away the old farm stand,” said Daniel. “But when we realized what we could build in its place, it made it seem exciting. It was well worth it to get this. Once we made the decision, it wasn’t hard . . . every step, you can’t wait for,” he added.

“It’s coming together and we’re still going to work on it. We’ve got 50 more years to play with it,” Simon said with a smile.

Now he looks forward to growing wheat and dried beans.

“We’d like to be doing exactly what we’re doing for a long time,” Simon said. “The business is nicely set up. We always talk about new and exciting crops we’d like to grow.”

More immediately, they are busy planning Saturday’s annual pumpkin festival at the farm, which will include games, pony rides, music by the Flying Elbows and of course plenty of farm-fresh food: hamburgers, roasted chickens, and fresh doughnuts, among other things. There will be pumpkin bowling, a hay bale maze, and the Farm Institute’s calves training as oxen will play second fiddle to the pumpkin-chucking trebuchet.

Daniel and Simon are openly excited at the prospect of possibly flinging two pumpkins simultaneously.

“I think it can go farther than at the Living Local Festival [two weeks ago],” Simon said.

“The idea is that it could go farther here than it did at the Ag Hall,” Daniel said, finishing his brother’s sentence.

Island Grown Schools will grind corn and make fresh tortillas, the Island Alpacas will make an appearance, and kids can have their faces painted while parents learn how to make soap.

“We love all the good ideas; we just wanted them all,” Simon said of the free event. “It’s fun to have everyone out. It’s a good time. Everyone likes coming to the farm, right?”


The Morning Glory Farm Pumpkin Festival is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow, rain or shine.