My family and I were in Vermont for a wedding this weekend and it seems that fall settled into Chappaquiddick while we were away. The cool temperatures from up north followed us home, a nighttime chill seeping through our car windows as we waited in Woods Hole for the ferry to arrive. Today is blustery and damp; I am certain many wool sweaters are being pulled from musty closets and perhaps the first fires are being lit. Temperatures will be back in the 70s again later in the week so don’t pack away those bathing suits quite yet. We may still have a few nice beach days ahead of us.

I spent the morning seeding cover crops into our farm fields at Wasque Farm, an act that is a definite harbinger of fall. Over the years, I have experimented with cover crops a bit more each season, hoping to incrementally boost our soil quality a little at a time. With our sandy soils, I think we will always feel as if we are farming on the beach. But my hope is that, over the years, we will leave the land a little more suitable for vegetable and flower production then when we first began.

There is an art to selecting the right cover crop and determining the correct ratios. Different seeds offer different benefits. Some provide heavy growth, thus boosting organic matter when the crop is tilled in, while others outcompete weeds or fix nitrogen into the soil. Different covers are used depending on the time of season too. Today I seeded a mix of winter rye, crimson red clover, winter peas and hairy vetch, filling the seeding bag to capacity and walking up and down empty tilled beds, broadcasting seed ahead of me.

This act always makes me think of a favorite Wendell Berry poem, titled February 2, 1968:

In the dark of the moon, in flying snow, in the dead of winter,

war spreading, families dying, the world in danger,

I walk the rocky hillside, sowing clover.

It is all too easy on Chappy to overlook the happenings in the world. Chappaquiddick can be an idyllic haven, a respite from the tension that continues to build in our country and elsewhere. With little cell phone and wireless service, we are compelled, by choice or by force, to disconnect. Perhaps this is one of the reasons so many of us gravitate to this little island. But the sorrows of the world are happening outside of our small rural community and sometimes this leaves me feeling powerless. In these moments, often the only act I can turn to is one of ancient tradition: the simple tending of the land.

On our fields, I follow in the footsteps of those who have lived on and worked the land well before me. We have found arrowheads, relics of past cultures carved from stone, slender in hand, edges chipped into fine points. Our Wasque field was once a hay field, supplying feed for many Chappy animals. Now we tend to our vegetables and flowers, providing food for many of our neighbors and friends. It is an honor to continue an agrarian history here on Chappaquiddick, a privilege to grow for our island community.

The first potluck of the season is coming up on Wednesday, Sept. 19 at the Chappy Community Center. These are nice gatherings and I encourage you to attend if you have not been in the past. In the middle of winter, it is always cheerful to see the Community Center porch light on, welcoming dinner guests inside. Appetizers are served at 6 p.m., brought by whoever is hosting that evening, and dinner starts at 6:30. Each guest brings a dish to serve six. You can always find a good conversation at the potlucks, so stop in to hear all the island gossip. If you would like to host in the future, please call the community center at 508-627-8222.

That is all the news for this week on Chappaquiddick. I’ll write again week after next. In the meantime please feel free to email me at Follow us on Instagram at slipawayfarm.