IGI’s Food Rescue Program turns table scraps into compost and beyond

How often are you at a restaurant and notice plates being cleared from tables that are still loaded with perfectly good food? Or you see overstocked products at the market set to expire with no buyer in sight? All of this unwanted or forgotten food amounts to tons and tons of waste. While it can be called waste it is certainly not garbage, and should be handled accordingly.

Food scraps that are thrown into the trash are hauled to landfills, and on Martha’s Vineyard that means they first have to be processed through a local refuse district and taken off-Island. The carbon footprint to move our trash is a big one, and it’s not the right path for food scraps. According to Island Grown Initiative (IGI) garbage is the Island’s number one export. Annually 6,500 tons of food that has been grown, processed, and transported to or around the Island is only shipped off again as waste. It costs $622,180 per year to transport and dispose of organic waste in landfills off-Island and food waste represents 261 trucks on the Steamship Authority boats each way every year!

In the same place where food scraps are being thrown in the trash, farmers and gardeners are buying compost and animal feed produced from other communities. We think there’s something wrong with that, and thanks to IGI’s food rescue efforts less and less of that is happening here. IGI’s Island Food Rescue (IFR) is a pilot project that aims to provide solutions to utilize wasted food in ways that enrich the Island community and support the local food system.

Now local food waste is being processed and reused in the form of compost to help support future agricultural efforts that will enrich our soils, increase our bounty and feed our people. It’s a win for the local businesses that can effectively see their food repurposed, their trash bill decrease and their carbon footprint reduced, a win for the farmers, gardeners and backyard growers that can benefit from richer soil, and a win for the community that can feast upon the fruits of the land that is being nourished by the compost in the future.

We recently had the opportunity to catch some of the IFR project in action. We visited local restaurants including Linda Jeans and Waterside Market to see how they’ve assimilated the system into their restaurant operations, and the best part of it all is how simple and convenient it is. Basically a restaurant signs up with IGI and receives a large compost bin called a “toter” that they keep beside their dumpsters. They educate their staff on what is compostable and what isn’t, and IGI’s collection truck (complete with a hydraulic lift and power washer) comes as needed to pick up the waste and clean the toter. The food waste is then trucked to the Island Grown Initiative Farm ( formerly Thimble Farm) mixed with carbon and loaded into their in-vessel composter and hooray, food waste is saved from the trash and turned into a valuable resource for gardeners and farmers! Businesses then receive a monthly report that outlines how many pounds of food scraps they diverted from the waste system.

Recycling food waste at the IGI Farm

Once picked up by IGI, the food waste takes about a month of active composting, and then another six to eight months of curing. With IGI’s huge tumbler, food waste is fed into the machine and comes out as semi-finished compost in three to five days.

It’s all part of IGI’s commitment to build a regenerative food system on Martha’s Vineyard. You’ve likely heard that word a lot recently, and it’s an important one to understand. By adopting regenerative farming practices we can give back to the land in the same way it gives to us, by respecting it, recycling as much waste as possible, and adding composted material from other sources that can help contribute to its biodiversity and sustainability. Additionally, regenerative agriculture can remove carbon from the atmosphere (as plants and soil naturally pull carbon from the air) and ultimately work towards reversing climate change. It’s been estimated that by farming just a tenth of an acre through regenerative practices one can offset the carbon emissions of one American adult per year! By simply and strategically working the land around us not only can we give back to it, but we can can make some significant contributions towards a healthier environment.
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With the compost from local businesses going back into nearby land the health and vitality of the Island’s ecosystem is strengthened. It’s a simple concept but innovative in it’s approach– why wouldn’t we want to repurpose our local waste to help provide for a more plentiful future?

Already this year over 200 tons of food has been collected from Island businesses and local schools, including 6 tons alone just from the Ag Fair. All that waste yielded 145 yards of compost, of which 126 yards have been used for IGI programs like Island Grown Schools’ Community Garden, Orchard, and the regenerative fields at Island Grown Initiative in Oak Bluffs. Think about it. That’s over 200 tons of food that was not processed as garbage and was not lost to a landfill but put back into the land we love for the betterment of our soil, our produce, our animals and ourselves. It’s not rocket science but it is a smart way of doing business.

Food rescue efforts in action at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.

So what can you do to be part of the solution?

Firstly be mindful of the food you purchase and try to use as much of it as possible. Our eyes are often bigger than our stomachs, so be realistic about what you can eat when you’re buying and preparing food.

Secondly compost! Build a compost bin in your yard or buy an enclosed composter. Use your compost for your garden, share with friends and family or donate it through the Martha’s Vineyard Refuse District. For $2 a bin, anyone can bring their 5 gallon counter compost to a local participating transfer station, and IGI will handle the rest. Click here for a list of those foods that are compostable and those that are not.

Thirdly, if you’re a business owner that is interested in implementing IGI’s composting collection service sign up here! Enrolled businesses include 7a, Artcliff Diner, Atria, Beach Road, Cronig’s, Kitchen Porch, Little House Cafe, Stop n Shop, Harbor View Hotel and dozens more. Happy composting!

Whole in One, the book we photographed for Ellie Krieger, available NOW!

I’m beyond excited to announce the release of the latest cookbook we’ve provided photography for–WHOLE IN ONE: Complete, Healthy Meals in a Single Pot, Sheet Pan, or Skillet. The book by acclaimed nutritionist Ellie Krieger, is one of my most exciting projects to date and working with Ellie was a dream come true! 

If you’re a health-conscious foodie you’ve likely heard of Ellie Krieger. Ellie is a world renowned nutritionist and New York Times bestselling cookbook author, plus she’s host and executive producer of the Public Television cooking series Ellie’s Real Good Food, and Food Network’s hit show Healthy Appetite. On top of that she’s also a James Beard Foundation media award winner, and a regular contributor to the Washington Post–needless to say she’s a dominant presence in the food world! I have followed Ellie for years and have watched her develop an honest, approachable brand, while remaining devoted to educating her fans on great food and good health–two things I hold in high regard. 

I have been a huge fan of Ellie’s astute approach to nutrition since viewing her show Healthy Appetite, and I’ve always hoped we’d have the opportunity to work together. When she selected me to collaborate on Whole in One I was beyond thrilled. The book marks Ellie’s seventh cookbook and my third, and for me the process has been unparalleled. Working with Ellie has truly been an honor. If you follow her work you know she is a consummate professional, who brings a deep passion and palpable energy to every project (and plate!) she takes on. 

We shot the the book in her New York City test kitchen last fall and I couldn’t be more excited with what we produced. Along with a very strong, professional team we worked tirelessly, sometimes capturing up to 15 shots a day. We visited a local prop house where we scoured through a seemingly endless supply of textiles, ceramics, surfaces and backdrops until we found the perfect design aesthetic for the book. 

With the help of our skillful food stylist Suzanne Lenzer and talented prop stylist Maeve Sheridan, and we poured over each dish, careful to capture the most mouthwatering shots, while maintaining a careful balance between our own creativity and the attainable nature of Ellie’s dishes that she’s come to be known for.  

With Whole in One, Ellie focuses on delicious, healthy meals that can be made in a single pot, sheet pan or skillet, ensuring a good meal with limited clean up, that can be easily integrated into your dinner routine. Our creative challenge was to showcase both the convenience of these singular meals along with the simple, yet dynamic and thoughtful ingredients at play. Whole in One is Ellie’s modern take on healthy cooking that’s intended to be approachable and inviting, and we worked hard to represent that visually in every shot. As chef, dietitian and trusted voice in the world of healthy cooking, people turn to Ellie for her expertise and I’m deeply fortunate she turned to me for mine. 

You can find the book on Amazon here and at your local booksellers. Enter for a chance to win a copy by following us on Instagram at @randibairdphoto.

WHOLE IN ONE

Complete, Healthy Meals in a Single Pot, Sheet Pan, or Skillet

By Ellie Krieger, with photography by Randi Baird

Hachette Books | Da Capo Lifelong Books

October 15, 2019 | $28 | 256 pages | 9780738285047

It’s a bird… it’s a plane… it’s our drone!

If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the last thirty years as photographers, it’s that we should never stop learning. After three decades in our line of work we’re still evolving, getting inspired, and always looking to expand our knowledge base. Last year we began embracing drone photography at home on the Island and overseas throughout our travels. We’ve been having a lot of fun with it–and our clients have too!

At RBP drone photography is another lens for us to look through, it’s another tool in our toolkit. We’ve always tried to capture things from different perspectives and drone photography automatically gives us a new outlook. From high above, aerial photography can capture more of the surrounding area in every shot.

On the Island that means more of our expansive beaches and lush landscapes, resulting in a whole new composition for our photos. Our high flying camera enables us to capture unique viewpoints of our subjects in a whole new way, and can tell the story of our subject more broadly, with more context.

With a bird’s eye view we see things in a way we could never see them before, creating images like we’ve never produced them before. In many ways it’s a more simplified view, in others it’s more complex. 

From high above we see patterns in the land appear, while the lines and shapes that make up our streets and neighborhoods seem almost abstracted from afar. The spatial relations of our subjects are changed, and in essence the plot of the photo thickens. Then of course there is the light, the all-important light. It’s different from up there, and you know at RBP it’s all about the light. 

We’ve been taking RBP to new heights all year long, and we’ve captured drone photography of weddings, engagements, local business offices, architecture, coastal communities, and beyond through our worldly travels. Our drone is one of our most cherished tools, but it’s also like playing with a new favorite toy. Not only are the photos that we capture so special, but the experience of taking them is so much fun. To control our camera from afar, as it rises high atop the land, is both rewarding and entertaining–making the work we create that much more gratifying!

Ready to take it to new heights with RBP? Contact us to find out what drone photography services we can provide for you.

Living the life with Instagram influencers for Orchard Mile

One of the best things about being a photographer is never knowing what new opportunity is going to come your way. We meet hundreds of new people every week. From young couples, to brides and grooms, to families and professional clients, we are always shifting gears, changing locations and interacting with new subjects. It keeps our work dynamic and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Earlier this summer we received a request from Julia Wetherell, co-founder and CEO of Orchard Mile, an online fashion destination that allows you to shop your favorite designers’ full collections, all in one place. It’s like shopping a well curated digital mall, with hundreds of contemporary and designer brands on one website, with the ease of one shopping cart.

Julia splits her time between New York and the Vineyard and has been operating a gorgeous Orchard Mile pop up in Edgartown for the last two summers. Located on Winter Street, the Orchard Mile retail space is adorned with carefully selected fashion and beauty resort essentials ranging from swimsuits to handbags and all things in between. Whether you’re looking for the perfect day-to-night outfit or a unique gift for yourself or your most stylish girlfriend, Orchard Mile is the place to go.

Julia enlisted us to shoot the space and capture product photography, and upon our first visit we were taken aback by the charm of the store and the level of detail that had been considered. As we browsed through the thoughtful collection of merchandise, with striking statement pieces and quintessential summer staples, we immediately got a sense of what Orchard Mile was all about. The store truly evoked the epitome of Martha’s Vineyard chic.

In a brilliant effort to show off all the fabulous finds the store stocks, Julia planned to host a group of Instagram fashion and lifestyle influencers on Martha’s Vineyard. She hired Randi Baird Photography to follow the group along on their Island tour and capture them in various iconic places and spaces–and we were thrilled!

There’s no better place to photograph beautiful women donning first-rate fashions and discovering inspiration than right here on Martha’s Vineyard. With influencer marketing becoming more popular by the day, and brands partnering with individuals that can authentically represent their brand, we were excited to play a part in the Orchard Mile story.

Over the course of two days we led Julia and the team to some of our favorite local spots, knowing just the right places that would best complement the Orchard Mile brand, while showcasing the most diverse and idyllic Island landscapes. It was like capturing a group of well dressed girlfriends enjoying a new playground together, and it couldn’t have been more picturesque.

We started with a poolside clambake in Edgartown where the women sipped, and snapped selfies together, forming fast friendships and gushing about their love for Orchard Mile.

Julia’s daughter Chloe stole the show, the youngest fashionista of all, who busily ran around playing bean bag toss and affectionately capturing the group’s attention. We used the nearby gardens of the home, abundant and colorful, as a background to capture the women–many of whom had never visited Martha’s Vineyard before.

The next day proved to be a full Island tour aboard a vintage trolley from Martha’s Vineyard Sightseeing. We began with a stop at the Edgartown lighthouse, a picture perfect nautical setting for the influencers to pose, strut and soak in the beauty of Edgartown harbor. Next came a stop at the charming seaside village of Menemsha where no visit is complete without a harborside lunch from Larsen’s Fish Market, organized by Plan It Martha’s Vineyard.

The juxtaposition of the old fishing boats behind the new, refined looks of influencers made for striking photos that we knew would be “Instaworthy.” From Menemsha we drove through the bucolic and pastoral landscapes of Chilmark, stopping at a local farm to graze alongside the livestock, and capture the historic stonewalls with their various textures and patterns.


We stopped off at the places that spoke to us, where the light was just right. We selected locations where we knew the women would appreciate the scenery and where we could capture the most engaging content. With everyone using their phones to take photos to post on social media these days, it was refreshing to provide a professional service for this purpose, and connect with an audience of influencers that genuinely wanted to capture the best shot as much as we did. Like we do with all of our shoots it was about finding the art and bringing forth the design, not just for Instagram but for our clients and ourselves.

You can follow along with Orchard Mile and the influencers below:
@OrchardMile
@LisaDNYC
@MarniDanielle
@OhSoGlamBlog
@Michelle.Madonna
@HonestlyKate
@alexandmichaeltoccin
@MrsDowJones
@GabriellaZacche
@RutaEnroute

Weather or not, the shoot must go on

We all know we can’t predict the weather, but over the last thirty years we’ve become really, really good at planning around it. As photographers on Martha’s Vineyard we need to be flexible, adaptable and ready for anything! When we first engage with clients when initially booking our shoots we’re all hoping for the perfect weather. Partly cloudy, partly sunny, dry, and a comfortable temperature. 

If you’ve booked a photo shoot or planned a special event, you’ve likely visualized the same thing. You’ve crossed your fingers a hundred times and obsessively checked the weather for the weeks and days leading up to it. But no matter what you do, ultimately Mother Nature will have her way, and no matter what you’ll still end up with fabulous photos with RBP. 

So how do we do it? Firstly we always build in a rain date as a backup in case the weather turns especially bad. We’ve become really good judges of the weather, and have learned how to interpret it hour by hour. As the date approaches we utilize all of our favorite weather apps and make an assessment based on the forecast to determine whether or not we should postpone the shoot. 

We work with our clients to determine their level of comfort with the weather that is being predicted–it’s often an exercise in seeing how adventurous people are! Here on Martha’s Vineyard we frequently experience microclimates, so the specific location of the shoot is important to assess as well. It could be beautiful on one side of the island while a storm is brewing a few miles away. 

If it’s only a chance of showers we keep calm and carry on. First and foremost we want to have fun with our clients. If the weather is going to be a stressor and the clients are not going to have a great time, we postpone it. Some of our favorite photos have been those that we’ve captured in unpredictable weather, where our clients have rolled with the punches and embraced the skies!

Plus “bad weather” can often make for some really fun times. Umbrellas are a fantastic prop in the rain, we especially love the clear umbrellas that you can see through! We always have a couple on hand and love when our clients come prepared as well. If rain is predicted during a wedding shoot we always suggest our brides and grooms provide umbrellas for their guests–it makes an impromptu wedding favor they’ll be sure to reuse and never forget!

Remember, sometimes the most ominous looking weather gives way to the most stunning photos. Here on-Island the colors that make their way through our sky are simply breathtaking, especially before or after a storm. Often it’s the weather you’ve feared the most that makes way for the most epic photos, not the perfect sunset you meticulously planned for. 

The long and short of it? Don’t stress about the weather. Keep an open mind, embrace the skies, and know that no matter what the weatherman says you’re in good hands with RBP.