Farms & Nature
Many do not realize that farming and agriculture are not only a very important part of island history but also a big part of life on Martha’s Vineyard today. There are family-owned animal farms, vegetable markets and flower stands all over the island. Many restaurants utilize local produce, meats and dairy products on their menus and the “farm to table” concept is becoming more prevalent in island homes as well.
Many of these Martha’s Vineyard farms offer wonderful programs for children such as The Farm Institute, Island Alpaca and Native Earth Teaching Farm. Kids can spend a day fertilizing gardens, taking care of alpacas or learning the importance of healthy eating by planting and picking their own vegetables. Pony rides and horse back riding are also a fun activity on the island of Martha’s Vineyard.
Every August, the island hosts the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Fair at the Ag Hall in West Tisbury. This county fair is idyllic of the fairs of the past, complete with horse pulling contests, skillet throwing competitions, and blue ribbons for the best pies and jams on the Island. Kids and adults alike, love a day at the fair, for the rides, games and especially the food. 2011 marks the 150th Anniversary of the beloved Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Fair.
The Island also has wonderful nature trails, hiking and conservation programs available. There are state forests to explore as well as nature and wildlife preserves owned by the Trustees of Reservations, the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank and the Massachusetts Audubon Society.
Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the Audubon Society’s properties with over four miles of nature trails on Martha’s Vineyard to explore through woodlands, meadows, ponds, a salt marsh and barrier beach. At the Nature Center and Discovery Room of the Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary, you can see barn owls nesting in the barn dormer through a special “owl cam.” They also offer wonderful camps and programs for nature lovers of all ages.
Another great natural escape is Menemsha Hills Reservation owned by the Trustees of Reservations. Here there are three miles of trails to explore through forest and beach with breathtaking views of Gay Head Lighthouse.