“Pinkletinks!” Islanders know that the chirping of these little tree frogs, peeper frogs as they’re referred to on the mainland, means that spring has opened its door. They’ve been here all winter, just waiting for the right moment to emerge from the tree bark. Their signature sound is like an aural cue that tells the crocus to push their purple petals through the cold ground, to let the robins know it’s time to start digging for worms and for us, to remind us too that it’s time to come out!
It’s a unique experience to live on an island during the off season. The seasonality of our way of life here dictates that we stay indoors and hunker down for months. Come January 1st, many businesses and restaurants are closed, ferries are cancelled due to weather, you’d be hard pressed to find a decent cup of coffee in Edgartown in the winter months- or any cup of coffee for that matter - but there’s plenty of parking! Making plans with friends to meet for a drink usually starts with the question: “What’s even open?”
There’s a certain kind of darkness here during the winter and it can settle into the soul of even the heartiest Islander. So the harbingers of spring have special meaning to us. It almost feels like a movie set: cue the pinkletinks, now bring in the daffodils, cue the painters for the white picket fences, where’s the sun, cue the sun. It's like what Caitlin from Mermaid Farm and Dairy said, “you live here long enough and you start to know the order of things.” It’s too soon for the catbirds, the cherry trees haven’t blossomed yet. The osprey are returning, so that means the fish will too.
Spring also brings the baby animals: calves and lambs and kids and chicks. The Island celebrates their arrival, often with educational workshops and farms opening their barns to celebrate. As their guests, we get to cuddle, feed, count the growing numbers of little ones and try to resist bringing them home.
While farmers and friends start preparing for the season to come, we check in with them to see how things are going, what they their plans are. We meet with with our collaborators to see what they fun new things they have been learning over the winter. These stories are the inspiration for the new Farm.Field.Sea season.... how we can help our guests look at a tomato, a strawberry, shiitake mushrooms, flowers, oysters differently? How can we help foster a greater, deeper meaning and downright appreciation for the island and local food than they had before?
There’s a rhythm to Island life that is truly dictated by the seasons. Nature stops for no one - so we, as Islanders have had to learn, iIt’s best not to push back, the seasons will change no matter what - and Spring is always around the corner.
Farm.Field.Sea. adventures start June 22nd til' October 2017. Custom, private events offered year round.
Photos by Lisa Vanderhoop and The FARM Institute.
Food—its capture, cultivation, preparation, and consumption—represents a cultural act. In June, we explored the multi-cultural tables of Martha’s Vineyard, and took a group on an intimate tour of The Gay Head Cliffs and venture behind the scenes with members of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah). There, we explored their roots through stories, tradition and and their relationship with the land.
Our guide was tribal member Juli Vanderhoop, who builds community via her outdoor wood-fired bread oven at Orange Peel Bakery in Aquinnah. Summertime pizza nights bring Vineyarders and visitors from across the island together to share a slice every week. A storyteller in her own right, Juli travelled the world as a commercial pilot and teacher before she returned home to the rolling moors of Aquinnah to open the bakery. Now, she works to pass on the traditions of the past to the next generation.
Our adventure with Juli began weeks before the tour group arrived. When we sat down with to hear the story of the Wampanoag's from the tribe, we heard a very authentic story - the good, and the bad. As Juli collected the information from her own life, and the people around her to share, she came across a box of documents in her house including an old newspaper clipping of the Gay Head Cliffs which looks very different from today's view, along with letters hand written by her family during very important times of their history. It was powerful to watch the unraveling of a story that hopefully can continue to build into the story of hope and rebuilding the infrastructure a culture may exist on.
Photo provided by Juli Vanderhoop
We gathered a lot of information to help lead the tour and collected an amazing amount of facts from the following group: Juli Vanderhoop, Linda Coomes, Director of the Aquinnah Cultural Center, Buddy Vanderhoop, purveyor of Tomahawk Charters, Amira, a young member of the Martha's Vineyard Wampanoag Tribe, and Christina Hook, tribal elder of the Martha's Vineyard Wampanoag Tribe.
Here are a few of the most fascinating:
1. The Wampanoags have a series of Thanksgiving traditions and holidays that center around harvest times throughout the year:
Penned by the staff of Farm. Field. Sea. and inspired by the experiences of working with Martha's Vineyard's chefs, farmers, fisherman, oyster cultivators, artisan producers and food educators.
Farm.Field.Sea. An Island Culinary Adventure