The Edgartown conservation commission has reached an agreement on a lease with The Trustees of Reservations regarding Katama Farm, the 186-acre property formerly leased to the Farm Institute by the town of Edgartown.

Selectmen took the proposed lease under advisement, and intend to vote on the agreement at their regular meeting next week. If approved, the new lease will begin a new 40-year term for the agreement.

Trustees will continue Farm Institute's programs at Katama farm. — Mark Lovewell

A year ago the Trustees and the Farm Institute agreed to integrate their organizations with the intent of continuing educational programs and food production, while bringing financial stability to the farm along with expanded programming.

“The conservation commission has been negotiating with the Trustees and the Farm Institute,” said Edward (Peter) Vincent, chairman of the town’s conservation commission, which oversees the property. “They have agreed to accept the lease on the property with a few amendments. They are committed to continue to focus of the Farm Institute on the farm,”

Among the amendments is an increase in the rent. The Trustees have agreed to pay $12,500 per year, which is approximately the amount the town would collect in taxes if the parcel was privately owned.

Another clause in the lease mandates at least 50 per cent of the products sold from the farm are produced on the premises, or elsewhere on Martha’s Vineyard. As much as 40 per cent of the products can come from other Island farms, but only 10 per cent can be imported from off-Island.

“Our main intent was that they can’t bring a whole bunch of stuff from off-Island and sell it in competition with other farms,” Mr. Vincent said.

There is also a provision that requires the authorization of selectmen if the farm starts a community supported agriculture (CSA) program to sell meat and produce.

Executives of both the Farm Institute and the Trustees said the farm programs, including summer camps, Island school discounts, free programs and scholarships will continue.

“There are some provisions in the lease that outline the Trustees’ commitment to our program,” said Farm Institute executive director Jon Previant. “The intention is the Farm Institute will still be the operating agent.”

“It sounds like a healthy, positive relationship,” said selectman Art Smadbeck.