The future for living local is moving beyond eating Island-grown vegetables and fruits. Vineyarders are already eating Island-raised poultry on an increasingly large scale, and a growing group of farmers would like to see that expanded to include local beef, pork, lamb and venison.
In a special forum at the Living Local Harvest Festival on Saturday at the Agricultural Hall in West Tisbury, three farmers and a local chef spoke about their hope for a slaughterhouse on the Vineyard, despite a daunting array of government restrictions.
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.
As Farm Institute manager Julie Olson backed up her trailer full of pigs at Adams Farm in Athol, there was little indication she was outside of a slaughterhouse. The vista over the factory town is vast, animals patiently wait in their stalls in the large red barn and the smell of livestock is no different than on the plains of Katama.
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.