Agriculture. Agri- from the Latin ager, meaning land; -culture, from the latin cultura, from the verb colo, to cultivate, to care for, to honor.

To farm is to care for the land, to cultivate it, to honor it. The word dates back at least to 160 BC, when Roman statesman Cato the Elder penned his legendary farming manual, De Agri Cultura (the components of the word had yet to adhere).

Aquaculture. A neologism modeled on the above, to cultivate, care for and honor the sea, only came about in the mid-20th century. Many would not consider aquaculturists farmers.

“People have been farming the land for 14,000 years,” said Dan Martino, co-founder of Cottage City Oysters and representative for the Dukes County chapter of the Massachusetts Farm Bureau, who talked to me over the phone after an oyster delivery. “It really is in the last 50 years that we started to farm the ocean.”

Most of the history of seafood, Mr. Martino said, happened in the choppy, combative world of fishing, where fishermen competed to catch from the same pool (if you can call mighty Oceanus a pool). Farming — terrestrial or aquatic — is more of a communitarian effort, he said. That thesis has been borne out by the effort between Island farmers on land and sea to form a new farm bureau chapter. Mr. Martino, representing sea, first encountered the Massachusetts Farm Bureau in his capacity as a Massachusetts Aquaculture Association trustee: “It was kind of weird to me that we didn’t have our own chapter, that we were lumped in with the Cape.” Brian Athearn, president of the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society and avatar of the land, heartily agreed.

“I started going to the Mass. bureau meetings and I got friendly with the Cape and Islands head,” he told me, seated in an empty Agricultural Hall, the calm before the storm as the Fair begins on Thursday. “In that process I realized that the Vineyard doesn’t really have the same needs as the rest.”

The farm bureau is a farmer advocacy group with its roots in progressive-era politics. The national organization is composed of state bureaus, each made of local chapters, a distributive arrangement that can get local priorities lobbied for by the national organization. But this ideal wasn’t of much use when Martha’s Vineyard was under the aegis of the Cape, a rather less active agro-polity focused on cranberry bogging.

While a new local farm bureau chapter hasn’t been created in more than 40 years, Island farmers had the support of the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society (whose only fundraiser, coincidentally, is this week’s Agricultural Fair, which I am certain all column readers will attend).

“It was a herculean battle to take on, but we did it,” Mr. Athearn said.

According to him, major improvements have already been achieved for cattle ranchers, citing their ability to push back against state hay freight restrictions. Cattle raising, he said, is already difficult enough on the Island. Land prices and development restrictions make new pasture or hayfields difficult to clear, and the absence of an on-Island slaughterhouse further increases freight costs.

“That’s why the price of beef is, like, $35 a pound; each cow needs two ferry tickets,” Mr. Athearn said.

On the sea front, Mr. Martino also reports early successes, especially in efforts to get aquaculture exempted from the double insurance requirements of the Jones Act, which would significantly lower operations costs. This law was created to protect mariners, he said, but applies to aquaculturists, despite the fact that they spend very little time at sea. A bill to this effect is now being considered in Congress.

The chapter welcomes commercial and backyard farmers alike. Mr. Athearn described himself as “a gentleman farmer without the gentleman,” though he retracted to say that his roosters do their best to fill the role.

More than anything, the bureau is a community, a place for farmers to come together, to talk, to support each other, to care for, cultivate and honor land and sea.