The following letter was sent to the land bank commission.

It is with many emotions that Ed and I hand over stewardship of Ashakomaksett Farm to the land bank today. We began our journey with the farm as a seemingly haphazard compilation of generations of additions on a simple farmhouse. After research on the property, building styles of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries and a desire to remain faithful to the farm’s connection to the indigenous and early settler populations, we chose a traditional New England farm vernacular. Big house (for the family), little house (the kitchen) backhouse (for the laborers; in our case, guests) and barn. Our love of gardens added to our vision for the farm and after major renovation and new construction additions, we set about carefully creating garden areas suitable for the structure and welcoming an abundance of children and both wild and domestic animals. Barns came next and we welcomed rescue horses, a donkey that survived a cruel government round-up, guinea fowl and chickens. After we built the pond, we welcomed the ducks, mostly Mallards but an occasional pin-tail or other more rare water fowl, each fall. We fed them faithfully until their departures to nesting grounds in March each year. We kept the bird feeders filled for our feathered over-wintering friends.

We delighted in the spontaneous arrival of barn swallows to the barn each spring that nest in the rafters, raising their young, watching them fledge while the parents swoop in the meadows and around the farm ridding our domestic animals and us of flies and mosquitoes until their departure in September.

We will greatly miss our wildlife friends and it is our hope that the Land Bank will continue to welcome them and provide a safe harbor for them as they live out their lives, raise their offspring and provide great joy with their unique and helpful habits.

Our warmest wishes for the land bank’s future on Ashakomaksett Farm. We believe the organization is a vital part of preserving the environment that makes the Vineyard such a special place. We are grateful that you will be welcoming the community to share in this peaceful, special place.

Ellen Harley