The Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society Livestock Show and Fair is coming, and along with prize-winning pies, racing pigs and the skillet throw, one of the highlights is something there will be less of this year: food waste.

Last year, as part of an initiative led by the Island Grown Initiative, waste generated by the fair was reduced by more than thirty per cent, in part by sending more than three tons of discarded food to IGI’s Thimble Farm to be composted. The goal is to improve on that accomplishment this year by another ten per cent.

If it sometimes seems that making meaningful change on Martha’s Vineyard is an uphill battle, consider that since 2015, when a group of concerned Islanders, with support and funding from the Martha’s Vineyard Vision Fellowship, convened the Island-Wide Food Waste Committee, some 360 tons of commercial food waste has been recycled into compost that feeds gardens all over the Island.

Today, the Martha’s Vineyard Food Waste Initiative works with dozens of Island restaurants and markets, public schools and nonprofit organizations, and maintains a presence at all Island landfills, where residents can recycle their food scraps. Leftovers are composted in a huge rotating cylinder acquired for the purpose last year, and the nutrient-rich soil produced is used to fortify Island gardens.

Funded in large part by the family foundation of Betsy and Jesse Fink, the initiative is well on its way to its goal of cutting food waste in half by 2030.

A related effort, co-sponsored with IGI by Vineyard Conservation Society and Sail Martha’s Vineyard, is focused on reducing waste of all kinds from the many weddings, galas and fundraising events held each year on Martha’s Vineyard. Spurred by Sail MV’s pioneering zero-waste events, the three groups have published an MV Green Event Guide, an easy-to-follow set of guidelines for reducing or eliminating items that burden the waste stream.

The guidelines will be on full display next week at the Ag Fair. Instead of trash cans, look for waste stations manned by teams of “trash kids” that separate compostable from recyclable trash. Instead of water in plastic bottles, look for water filling stations where fairgoers can fill up their own recyclable jars. Instead of single-use plastic and Styrofoam, look for containers made of compostable materials, required of all vendors this year. Want to be at the forefront of sustainability? Pack your own reusable plate and utensils along with your sunglasses when you go to the fair.

Reducing food waste involves more than just composting inedible leftovers, and IGI has also been at the forefront of efforts to get surplus food to people who need it. Working with local farms and markets, volunteers glean unsold produce and deliver it to schools, the food pantry and the councils on aging. Starting this year, IGI will use the new kitchen at Camp Jabberwocky to process some of the gleaned food.

The food rescue movement on Martha’s Vineyard is proof that a small group of people working together for positive change can accomplish great things. It’s a message that can’t be repeated enough.