Island Grown Farm Gets Mixed Reviews

A vocal gathering of Vineyard farmers heard about plans for a campus-style educational agricultural center during a tour of the former Thimble Farm property this week.

Sponsored by the Island Grown Initiative, which bought the 40-acre farm in the center of the Island last year, the tour sparked a lively discussion among some 30 growers about how best to encourage growth and also ensure survival for the burgeoning network of small farms on the Island that operate with little or no subsidy. Opinion was far from unanimous.

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Island Grown Initiative Plots Next Chapter for Thimble Farm
Island Grown Initiative announced preliminary plans this week for a campus-style farm center at the former Thimble Farm Property, including a refurbished greenhouse, parcels of land for tenant farmers and a slaughterhouse facility. At the farm network’s annual farmers’ dinner on Monday night, executive director Sarah McKay laid out the organization’s initial plans for the historic agricultural property.
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Island Grown Initiative Unveils Plan to Build Slaughterhouse

The Island Grown Initiative, the nonprofit farm and sustainability network, announced an $800,000 capital campaign this week to build the Vineyard’s first U.S. Department of Agriculture permitted slaughterhouse.

In an interview with the Gazette this week, IGI president Sarah McKay and Island Grown Meat coordinator Richard Andre said the organization is considering two locations for a 3,500 square foot facility – Thimble Farm or behind the new barn at the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society in West Tisbury.

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Islanders Spring Out for Chicken Tips

From backyard growers to full-fledged farmers, Island residents seem to have caught chicken fever.

The Island Grown Initiative hosted an all-day Vineyard workshop on the bird Saturday, which covered the ground from egg to plate.

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Island Grown Initiative Connects Farms to Schools

Island Grown Schools, the Island Grown Initiative’s farm-to-school program, is set to bring more local produce into school meals and snacks in 2009, developing a connection between cafeterias and farms that helps create a year-round market for locally-grown foods and a source of off-season income for Island farmers.

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Island Grown Initiative Lands Grant to Study Slaughterhouse

Following on the success of the Island Grown Initiative’s mobile poultry processing unit, the organization has won a $40,000 federal grant to look at doing something similar with four-legged livestock.

The grant was announced on Friday, as officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture came to the Vineyard to school locals on how they might share in hundreds of millions of dollars available from the government.

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Island Grown Initiative Grows Good Eaters

Flowers come in all different shapes and sizes, but rarely do they come in the form of small children.

“Today you’re an apple flower,” Melinda Rabbit DeFeo, of Island Grown Schools, said as her student petals stood around her in Chilmark earlier this week. The Edgartown fourth grade had traveled to the home of Peter Norris to pick apples and learn how they grow.

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Farmers Agree on Slaughterhouse Plan

The Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society and Island Grown Initiative have joined forces in a venture to build a slaughterhouse behind the fairgrounds in West Tisbury.

The project is still in the very early stages of discussion and no permits have been obtained, but preliminary talks between the agricultural society and the nonprofit IGI are under way to allow a slaughterhouse facility to be built behind the new barn on society land.

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