Editors, Vineyard Gazette;

In the spring of 2009 my wife, Molly, and I purchased what was then known as Rainbow Farm in Chilmark from David Douglas. The historic property had been a dairy up until 1961 and Molly and I had a dream of turning it back into a working dairy farm. David sold us the five-acre house lot that he owned and transferred to us the lease he had on the other 100 acres of property. The leased land is owned by the Trustees of Reservations (TTOR) and the lease we have runs until 2040.

Molly and I dove in head first from day one. We built our family home here and we made extensive investments in the leased property. We built a barn for the cows and a creamery and a milking parlor. We amended the soil, drilled wells and put up new fences and a thousand other things we needed to run a farm. We also started talking to TTOR almost immediately about extending our lease beyond its original term. We had extensive back and forth discussions in the early years but never reached an agreement.

In 2014, not long after we finished rebuilding from a devastating fire the year before, TTOR broke off all negotiations and told us they were no longer interested in discussing our lease extension. We tried appealing directly to board members and wealthy donors and had lawyers write letters in an effort to get them back to the table but were not able to get them to talk to us at all for nearly six years. Over the course of the last two and a half years we have had some renewed discussions with TTOR but this has not led to any further clarity.

Like other Island businesses, we struggle with housing for our employees. We negotiated at great length with the state and the town to come up with a plan to convert an existing barn into much-needed workforce housing. This plan has been fully permitted by all relevant authorities but has been in limbo for nearly a year as we try to negotiate with TTOR. Without employee housing and other capital investment in the farm it is unclear to Molly and I how the farm will be able to continue to be a part of the Island community.

We have explained this at length and in detail to TTOR, but this has not moved them. We have proposed different ideas and strategies on how to move forward but have received no serious response. The full TTOR board will meet in Edgartown next week and today I was informed they will not be putting forth or considering any proposals about a lease extension or our future stewardship. Under the circumstances this means we will not be able to move forward with our planned employee housing project which is a huge disappointment to us and our employees.

We have tried to pursue this matter quietly, through back channels. Two years ago we were heartened to see the Town of Edgartown put agricultural interests first and take the Farm Institute back after TTOR failed to live up to the commitments outlined in their farm management plan. Earlier this summer, we saw how a unified and concerted outcry from the local community convinced TTOR to change course and reconsider their Oversand Vehicle Draft Management Plan. We sincerely hope that the Board of the Trustees moves at their upcoming meeting to take into account the local jobs, community impact and legacy of working agriculture and decides to act decisively to extend our lease.

Eric Glasgow lives in Chilmark. He is the owner of the Grey Barn and Farm.