With Tuesday’s move-out date looming, the Edgartown conservation commission has extended the Trustees of Reservations lease at Katama Farm until Oct. 15, giving the land trust another month until it formally vacates the property.

The conservation commission had originally ordered that the Trustees move off the 180-acre town-owned farm by Tuesday, Sept. 15 amid longstanding grievances, including winnowing of livestock on the property, sick goats and a late rent payment. The Trustees disputed many of the claims after the eviction notice.

On Monday, Edgartown conservation agent Jane Varkonda told the Gazette that the one-month extension will give the Trustees time to remove animals and make arrangements for the lease transfer.

“It’s just to give them more time to make all the arrangements they need to make,” Ms. Varkonda said. “I don’t know much except that we gave them more time and they are proposing to do some work in the fields regardless of whether they stay or not.”

Mr. Hart said on Monday in a phone conversation with the Gazette that the Trustees were pleased that the vacancy date had been extended. The pandemic has impacted boat reservations for livestock, Mr. Hart added, and said the first livestock transfer was scheduled for the 17th.

"We’re just doing our best to be considerate and treating the livestock in the best possible manner," Mr. Hart said. 

The decision to postpone the eviction date was made at a conservation commission meeting last Wednesday, according to Ms. Varkonda. The commission met in executive session to discuss lease negotiations for the farm. Brief discussion in public session that followed largely centered around a letter sent to the conservation commission from the Katama Homeowners Association, requesting a meeting with the commission to ensure the farm retained its educational and working farm components.

The historic farm is owned by the town but has been leased to the Trustees at a rate of $12,500 per year since 2016, when they took over management of the farm and The Farm Institute, a nonprofit teaching farm that held the lease.

The conservation commission acts as landlord for the property. The original 2016 lease was set to last 30 years, and requires that the tenant maintain a working farm on the property, with adherence to a strict farm management plan.

Since the lease termination, the town has received numerous letters from former campers and others supporting the Trustees, who prominently posted a statement on their website following the eviction notice. Ms. Varkonda said the town has also received letters of interest from farmers across the Island, including Morning Glory Farm and The Grey Barn and Farm.

She said the town intends to put out a new request for proposals seeking a tenant for the property. In the interim, she said the Trustees plan to do some work on the fields, including cover crops where pumpkins and sunflowers were grown this summer.

“They are going to do an application of lime, spread manure...and they have to plant a cover crop,” the conservation agent said. “It takes time to make arrangements. If they are going to give up the lease and remove the animals, it takes time to get the animals off the Island. It took them time to get them on the Island, so it is going to take time to get them off.”