With the rolling fields of the Keith Farm next door and Lucy Vincent Beach in the distance, Chris Fischer tried to hand off a piglet over the fence at Beetlebung Farm to his cousin, Josh Scott. Pig squeals rang out. Mr. Fischer fell a few times, the muddy pigs slipping out of his grip, but in the end the handoff was successful. Mr. Scott got a handle on the pigs, while Albert (Ozzie) Fischer stood by the pen ready for transport in the bed of a pickup truck. Josh’s son, Tristan, kept the family dachshund at a safe distance.

It was a family affair, as it is most days on the Chilmark farm.

The history of agriculture on the Vineyard is as well rooted as the trees for whom Beetlebung Farm was named. And now young Islanders have begun to come back to the land in a farming renaissance of sorts, reestablishing agriculture as a backbone of the Vineyard way of life.

“I do it for Poppy because it keeps him going,” Chris, 31, said of his grandfather, who is 96. “He comes out and works every morning, he’s so proud of the land,” he added. “I just think it keeps his mind going with everything, like trying to help us load the pigs. Some days he’ll be out here working, my aunt Marie will be working, I’ll be working and Tristan will be working. It’s four generations of us working next to each other, which is amazing.”

Chris has taken over Beetlebung Farm from his aunt, Marie Scott, who ran the small farm and stand for more than 30 years. He previously sold her produce at the West Tisbury Farmers’ Market and when she asked him to take over this year, Chris didn’t hesitate.

Next generation takes Tractor wheel at Nip ’n’ Tuck. — Ivy Ashe

Over the past six months he has tripled the size of production, expanded fence lines, revived old orchards and spruced up the farm stand at Beetlebung Corner which operates on the honor system. In addition to vegetables the stand is also selling meat (raised by Josh), coffee (roasted by Todd Christy of the Chilmark Coffee Company) and scones (made by Amy Miller). Chris, who is also a private chef, landscaper and caretaker, is raising rabbits for meat.

He said the essential character of the farm hasn’t changed.

“We grow the best vegetables we can . . . and make everything Poppy did blossom,” he said. “It’s always a big family effort.”

Ozzie recalled his own long memories of self-sufficiency, Vineyard-style. “Until a year or two ago I could do almost everything. I can still run the tractor now,” he said. “It drives me crazy sitting in the house so I come out here and sit and talk to the plants. Age is catching up. I told them I would honor them until I was 100, so they’ve got four more years.”

As for his grandson taking over the family land, he could not be more proud.

Pigs enjoy their Beetlebung Farm life, too. — Ivy Ashe

“I think he’s learned a lot, he’s a hard worker and I try to teach him,” the elder Mr. Fischer said. “Sometimes you have to watch him once in awhile and explain things to him, which he accepts . . . I’d like to see Chris be able to continue it with the rest of the family.”

As Chris and his grandfather spoke, three farm workers weeded a row of lettuce, their laughter floating across the vegetable patch.

“It’s really nice to have people who want to come here and have a little community,” the younger Mr. Fischer said.

And while he loves all his jobs, the farm is where his true heart lies.

“I kill myself to make it work here. I work a thousand hours a day and don’t ever sleep and sacrifice everything personally just to make this blossom, that’s my goal,” he said. “But this is the most fulfilling thing I could do.”

A few miles down the road in West Tisbury, another farm stand revival is under way at Nip ’n’ Tuck Farm, where Prudence Fisher, age 20, and the granddaughter of the late Fred Fisher, is running the stand with an expanded selection of produce, meat and other products.

Ms. Fisher, who grew up on the former dairy farm run by her grandfather, said she is part excited, part nervous about the venture.

“I’ve never done anything this big, ever,” she said in the storefront that once held her grandfather’s milk pasteurization equipment. “That part of it is kind of scary but I know it’s going to turn out fine.”

Ozzie fischer, 96, calls grandson Chris, 31, “hard worker.” — Ivy Ashe

Ms. Fisher and her partner, Ty Rossi, have planted the rectangular roadside garden with onions, shallots, tomatoes, greens, garlic, beans, spinach and zucchini. Inside the storefront metal milk jugs and glass bottles line the walls, decorative reminders of the old dairy production. Coolers that once held glass jugs of fresh milk and thick cream are now stocked with juices, herbs, ice cream bars, Mermaid Farm dairy products and farm-raised beef, pork and bacon.

Ms. Fisher recalled sitting on the front porch with her brother, singing and eating peaches, the juice running down their chins, as they watched the world go by.

She’s hoping to capture the essence of the old stand.

“It’s nice to know that it’s back in the family and try and keep it what it was when I was little,” she said.

In the field behind the stand, her father, Fred Fisher Jr., had just finished mowing a first cut of hay. Ms. Fisher said she believes he is happy with her decision to revive the farm stand.

“He’s not the type of person to ever say it or show it, but you can tell he’s excited about it,” she said. “He’s just like his father [in that way].”

The stand is open from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Ms. Fisher’s day begins at 4:30 a.m.

“It’s a great opportunity for me, not many people my age can do this,” she said. “So many of my friends would love to be able to do what I’m doing and I really appreciate the fact I’m allowed to do it.”

Farm Notes

Jackie Foster, cheese maker for Mermaid Farm in Chilmark, will host a cheese talk and demonstration tonight from 6 to 8 p.m. at the new Agricultural Hall in West Tisbury.

The Edgartown School and Island Grown Schools will hold a greenhouse dedication and end-of-the year garden celebration at 3 p.m. on Friday at the school’s greenhouse. All are welcome.

Beetlebung’s Jason Nichols puts lettuce seeds in place. — Ivy Ashe


This column is meant to reflect all aspects of agricultural activity and farm life on the Vineyard. To reach Remy Tumin, please call 508-627-4311, extension 120, or e-mail rtumin@mvgazette.com.