If you love flowers and you’ve visited the West Tisbury Farmers’ Market, you may already recognize Krishana Collins’ name. Or maybe you’ve been to an Island wedding where the very Vineyard-esque flower arrangements blew you away. That would be Krishana’s work. If not, maybe you remember reading, about six years ago, that the town of Chilmark awarded a 75-year lease on Tea Lane Farm on Middle Road to a young woman who planned to improve it and grow flowers on it. That, too, would be Krishana, who says she is the most fortunate person in the world. We talked with her to find out why.

Q. How did you decide to farm in the first place?

A. After growing up in Pensacola, Florida, I went off to Antioch College in Ohio, and part of the curriculum there involved working in different places. I worked on an organic farm in Vermont, something I had always wanted to do. I was only 19 and within the first week, I knew that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Q. Why?

A. Coming from Pensacola, I only knew iceberg and romaine [lettuce]. Then I went to this farm and there are 25 varieties of lettuce. Ten varieties of carrots. You went out and picked peas for hours and then ate the best pea you ever ate in your life. Then the carrots. I thought I was tasting my first carrot ever! I realized I was going to be scraping along [financially] if I worked in farming, but I really didn’t care.

The town of Chilmark awarded Krishana a 75-year lease on Tea Lane Farm. Albert O. Fischer

Q. How did you end up on Martha’s Vineyard?

A. I met some friends in Vermont and they told me about Martha’s Vineyard. They even made me a map of all their favorite places to go. I decided to come and try it out and I fell in love with it right away.

Q. When did you arrive and what jobs did you hold at first?

A. I arrived here in 1998. I first worked on Whippoorwill Farm for Andrew Woodruff and worked growing vegetables. And then I started my own business on rented land from the Land Bank. It was a salad greens business. Then I helped my mother start a farm in Florida, so I worked there winters and here summers for a number of years. Then my mother passed and all I wanted to do was create a whole field of flowers. I guess I was reaffirming the life force. So Andrew gave me some land to use and I grew half of my flowers for his CSA and half I sold.

Q. So after farming on others’ land for years, what did signing a 75-year lease on Tea Lane Farm in May of 2012 mean to you?

A. It meant stability. It meant I could really do this, sink my teeth in. The opportunity that was given to me— I can’t even believe it! And the way Chilmark handled it was phenomenal. They realized that in order to make this work, somebody needed to have a 75-year lease, so that all their time, energy and investment were for the long run and they could stay here for the rest of their life.

Krishana grows peonies, lilies, zinnias, dahlias and many, many more varieties for both the farmers' market and weddings. Albert O. Fischer

Q. So flowers are now your crop of choice, because of your mother? Or were there other reasons also?

A. I definitely had a great love for them. Even as a child, I would make little bouquets all day. Out of leaves, grass, whatever I could find. At first, I was trying to grow vegetables and flowers at the same time. And I realized I couldn’t do both well, based on time. The flowers kind of took over. I did one wedding, then another and another. It was like I understood it. It’s been a huge learning curve, don’t get me wrong. But it felt really natural to me; nothing ever felt forced about it. And with flowers there is also value-added, with the arranging. It's very creative.

Q. What has been your greatest satisfaction since you started farming?

A. Seeing so much beauty in one day. It’s kind of astronomical! Q. Frustration? A. Every day there is something frustrating. You’re of course dealing with nature, but also electricity, plumbing, mechanics. There is always frustration. But I really can say I don’t want to be anywhere else or doing anything else; farming is my passion. I just love what I do.


Paula Lyons is a former ABC and CBS television consumer journalist.