Blog Category: Farms (Page 1)

Women Helping Women: Women-Owned Businesses We Lifted Up In 2021

As a woman-owned business, we’ve always made it a point to collaborate with and support other women-owned businesses. In 2021 we had the pleasure of working with several community-minded females to not only help market their business visually but to promote the mission behind their work. 

At Randi Baird Photography (RBP), we’re not just behind the scenes snapping photos for websites and advertisements, we’re having strategic conversations with our clients about the most effective way to tell their story from behind the lens, in a way that is most authentic and impactful to their business. They say content is king, and photography is just that, but collaborating and effective marketing of that content is queen. 

The queen bee is the mover and shaker; she gets things done, and we’ve been lucky to accomplish some great things alongside these fabulous female-owned businesses this year. 

BUG & RABBIT:  This lifestyle clothing brand was launched by friends and founders Emily Redmond and Kristin Loranger, who have been tethered to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket for generations. Like many of us, they fell in love with the islands for their breathtaking beaches, unparalleled beauty, rich New England history, and the memories made there with family and friends. They believe in sharing what brings you joy and spreading good where you can. Emily and Kristin have created designs that not only show love for these iconic destinations but share good by giving back. 

BUG&RABBIT pledges to donate a percentage of their annual profits to organizations that help to preserve and protect these beloved islands, as well as look for ways to support their local businesses and communities. B&R also pledges to source sustainable and responsibly made materials in an effort to be kinder to the environment. 

What we did: RBP helped develop a visual style to illustrate their Vineyard Line of clothing by complementing the apparel against the natural blue colors of our surrounding Edgartown waters. We organized a photo shoot with three models on a breezy sunny afternoon and hopped aboard Catboat Charters to capture R&B’s designs in an authentic Vineyard setting. Back on land, we selected two more backdrops that effectively evoke the nautical setting that originally inspired their clothing. Once back in the studio we developed a stylized “look” for R & B that will serve as a consistent visual theme throughout their marketing, to help further develop their brand. 

SylvieBags: I’ve known Sylvie Farrington, owner of Sylvie Bags, for the last 25 years, as a friend and a neighbor. We both started Island CoHousing, a collaborative living community on Martha’s Vineyard, with our families over 20 years ago. 

Sylvie designs gorgeous handbags, pillows, and other textiles from up-cycled rare barkcloth and fabrics from the 1930s to the 1960s, using a traditional sewing technique. The durable barkcloth is made from densely woven cotton fibers and makes for unique, sustainable products. Items are one-of-a-kind from authentic mid-century textiles and beautifully made with a high focus on detail. 

The best parts? Consumers can feel good about their purchase knowing SylvieBags are leather-free, animal-friendly, and vegan, and since they use existing vintage fabric they minimize the impact on Mother Earth. Another fabulous perk (that really speaks to the feminist in me) is that by buying a SylvieBags accessory you are helping preserve the ancient art of sewing passed down through generations and championing independent women sewing from home to balance work and family and earning fair compensation.

What we did: RBP scouted several photo locations for Sylvie, ultimately selecting those locations that would allow her bold and vibrant designs to make the most impact. We used the down-Island towns of Martha’s Vineyard including Oak Bluffs, Vineyard Haven, and Edgartown, and utilized their downtowns, restaurants, farm stands, shorelines, and gardens. By selecting a wide range of settings we helped tell the story of the versatility and wearability of Sylvie’s products, creating lifestyle photographs to both their timeless vintage elegance and modern contemporary design. 

Shored Up Digital: Led by Angela Prout and Marnely Murray Shored Up Digital provides small businesses on Martha’s Vineyard with digital marketing services including social media management, website design, and email marketing–to make sure brands’ digital presences are all ‘shored up.’ With an exceptional level of enthusiasm, dedication, and a collaborative approach, Shored Up Digital is an effective solution for Island clients that want to better connect with their audience online. Beyond digital marketing, Angela and Marnely strive to promote community among local businesses and actively work to promote Island businesses beyond our Vineyard waters. 

What we did: In the spring of 2020 RBP provided Shored Up Digital with photography for their publication the Martha’s Vineyard Dining Sourcebook the first-ever all-inclusive digital printed guide of all of the restaurants and dining destinations on Martha’s Vineyard. When COVID hit Angela and Marnely recognized the challenges it presented to our local businesses, especially restaurants, and in partnership with Sourcebook Productions they developed the book using innovative Flowcode technology.

I couldn’t be more pleased with the finished product and I’m honored to have my photography showcased within the pages of this book. This guide was a gift to our restaurant community, with no restaurant paying to be included, and as a local foodie and champion of food equity, I knew it was the right fit for my photography. Throughout the book, my photographs tell the story of the farms and fields that support our restaurants and contribute to the equitable food system on Martha’s Vineyard.

In addition to the Dining Sourcebook RBP recently partnered with Shored Up Digital to provide photography for six New England-based travel and lifestyle content creators including Shorelines Illustrated, Yankee Magazine, Kristy New EnglandAnnah Todd, Belle of the Ball, and One CrafDIY Girl. These fun and fabulous ladies visited the island to soak up all of the festivities during Christmas in Edgartown this month. 

Beyond shopping Main Street, decorating holiday wreaths, and sipping hot chocolate, Shored Up Digital wanted to ensure that the group had exposure to the rich agricultural roots of Martha’s Vineyard. They organized a private tour with Simon Athearn of Morning Glory Farm. As Simon shared the history of his family farm and the innovative and sustainable practices they pride themselves on, I captured the bloggers and influencers across different locations on the farm, providing valuable content for their audience to better understand the wide range of appeal Martha’s Vineyard has to offer. 

Martha’s Vineyard Oyster Fest: This year marked the inaugural Martha’s Vineyard Oyster Fest (MVOF) a mission-based festival that aims to drive long-term local, regional, and national awareness of Martha’s Vineyard and Massachusetts-farmed oyster and native fish profiles. A portion of the MVOF proceeds went to the Martha’s Vineyard Shell Recovery Partnership which reduces and recycles shell waste on the Island, provides a local source of the shell for shellfish restoration, and improves shellfish production, which in turn improves local water quality.

MVOF was originally scheduled for 2020 and like most things, was forced to cancel, so the anticipation was twice as exciting, and for good reason. The festival director Nevette Previd and I go way back, and she’s an absolute pro at producing Island events. I first started working with Nevette when we both worked to help organize the annual Living Local Festival, an event that allowed attendees to get up close and personal with community organizations committed to food equity and sustainability on Martha’s Vineyard. Additionally, we worked together on Nevette’s Farm. Field. Sea. popup culinary adventures, unique and intimate dinners that showed off the bounty of chef talent and local food. I’ve always loved Nevette’s approach to education and her dedication to promoting local food. 

What we did: For Oyster Fest RBP worked closely with Nevette to thoroughly understand her audience and marketing strategy, taking the time to grasp exactly how she intended to use our images to tell the story of the first festival and shape the narrative to promote future events. 

Over the course of the two-day festival, we documented talks, tastings, demos, and attendee interactions, on-site at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum and from above with the use of our drone. From way up high we photographed the fun aboard the historic Shenandoah tall ship (courtesy of the educational nonprofit FUEL) for a dockside event with East Boston Oysters. There we effectively photographed the energy of the event and the purveyors, with the intention of showcasing their products properly. Our final images recall the beauty of the picture-perfect Vineyard days, the reverence of the presenters and producers, and the salty and delicious moments that were savored along the way.

Giving thanks and giving back to the community that allows us to do what we love

One of the most incredible things about living on Martha’s Vineyard is the sense of community we share with our neighbors, friends, summer residents, and even first-time visitors. The Island is full of passionate individuals and dedicated organizations committed to making Martha’s Vineyard a compassionate and charitable place. Over the last thirty years, we have been able to deepen our connections to the people that surround us, enabling us to use our work to help further the missions of local non-profits and drive meaningful change.

Especially in light of the pandemic we’ve become even more appreciative of our Island home and the resilient men and women that have been serving our community in crisis. As photographers we can provide real value for local organizations by highlighting what they do, effectively creating more awareness for their mission while capturing their tireless efforts along the way. Whether it’s providing images that make it into their newsletter, website, or annual report, our photography offers these groups high-quality assets that represent the importance of their work. It’s the least we can do for those that do so much. 

Here’s a look at some of the great work being done by our local non-profits and the ways Randi Baird Photography has given back in support of their selfless acts.

 

Misty Meadows Equine Learning Center

Who they are: Misty Meadows offers inclusive equine-assisted enrichment programs for people of all ages and abilities. They provide a nurturing environment where horses and humans work together to build relationships and overcome adversity. Their programs are a unique blend of teaching based on building mental, emotional, and physical connections with horses using non-verbal communication. Through observation, unmounted groundwork, and riding horses, their teachings go beyond handling horses to encourage critical thinking, empathy, and boundaries. 

What we’ve done for them: We’ve long been inspired by the work that they do with animals, the confidence they build with their students, and the healing properties of the relationships they cultivate. Randi first came to learn about Misty Meadow while photographing their programs, staff, and herd for their website images in 2016. She continued her professional relationship with the organization over the last several years, then began volunteering and joined the Board of Directors in 2020.

Island Grown Initiative

 

Who they are: Island Grown Initiative’s (IGI) mission is to build a regenerative and equitable food system on Martha’s Vineyard that engages, informs, and integrates the community. As a founding member of IGI and former Board President, Randi has been active with the organization since its inception in 2006.  

Amid the pandemic IGI worked harder than ever to increase local food production, reduce and redirect food waste, and expand access to healthy food for all islanders, ensuring all who needed it had access to food during COVID. They continued to operate their mobile market, and they provided thousands of packed lunches every week for school-age children through their free Community Lunch Program.

When school returned, so did IGI, and this year they taught approximately 2,500 children in small groups as part of their education initiatives, as well as ramping up their adult food production and farming workshops. Earlier this year IGI merged with the Island Food Pantry, effectively combining efforts to create a comprehensive community food equity hub to better serve families facing food insecurity, and distributing more than 350,000 pounds of food so far this year. Additionally, Island Grown has already gleaned another 43,000 pounds of produce and provided 32,000 prepared meals for public health outlets, social workers, the Food Pantry, and others to reach homebound elders and those without transportation.

What we’ve done for them: Over the years we’ve provided photography services for the organization’s wide variety of events and programs, including their gleaning program, Food Hub production, Mobile Poultry Processor, and others. Our photography has helped them best illustrate the extent of their work and it has been used across their website, blog, social media, and press. 

*Additionally, to further combat food insecurity RBP donated 10% of our proceeds from 2020 to the Island Food Pantry.

Island Housing Trust

Who they are: The Island Housing Trust (IHT) is a non-profit organization that supports a diverse and vital community on Martha’s Vineyard by creating and sustaining permanently affordable housing solutions, both rental and ownership. Over the past decade, they have sold and rented 132 homes and apartments, providing hope and opportunity to hundreds of low, moderate, and middle-income Island families seeking a dignified solution to their affordable housing needs.


This year IHT showed no signs of slowing down and relentlessly continued their urgent work to end housing insecurity, even amid a pandemic. They completed three large-scale building projects which provided housing for dozens of year-round Island residents while maintaining their mission to design and build simple, durable, healthy, energy-efficient homes that are affordable to purchase, own, and preserve for generations. Additionally, IHT adapted its operations by hosting its first virtual fundraising event (while exceeding its fundraising goals!) and conducted its first remote homeownership lottery via a video conference.

What we’ve done for them: Since its inception, we have regularly provided staff and Board headshots as well as architectural photography to tell the story of IHT’s mission, and the homeowners and tenants that benefit from their work. Our photography has captured final builds, in-process shots, and groundbreakings to help further promote their services to potential donors and recipients while bringing more awareness to the general public.

Vineyard Havens

Who they are: Vineyard Havens is an organization that hosts families of adult and pediatric cancer patients in houses on Martha’s Vineyard for vacations of up to a week. Inspired by her own son’s fight against Wilms tumor, a rare form of kidney cancer, Jeanne DeSanto launched Vineyard Havens in 2019. 

Vacations can heal and no one deserves to rest and relax more than a family in hard times. That’s why Vineyard Havens gives the gift of an all-expenses-paid vacation so families facing the stress and struggles of cancer are able to unwind and reconnect while appreciating the peace, beauty, and tranquility of Martha’s Vineyard. The organization is partnered with the Jimmy Fund Clinic at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, which recommends families for the program based on their child’s treatment schedule. 

What we’ve done for them: RBP has offered family portrait sessions to the visiting families, giving them an unforgettable experience and leaving them with timeless mementos they can cherish forever. 

Martha’s Vineyard Community Services (MVCS)

Who they are: MV Community Services responds to the needs of the Martha’s Vineyard community, impacting children, teens, seniors, parents, and all who call the Island home. MVCS is made up of clinicians and social workers, psychiatrists, counselors, caseworkers, teachers, and volunteers. For over 50 years, MVCS has offered affordable childcare, accessible mental health care, disability support services, domestic and sexual violence support and so much more. 

What we’ve done for them: RBP donated two days of in-studio family portrait sessions to dozens of recipients of MV Community Services programs, giving them a fun family activity and everlasting memento.

As another way to continue to show our appreciation to our Island community, RBP initiated a Client’s Choice donation program where we donate 10% of our 2021 proceeds to those Martha’s Vineyard non-profits our clients have selected. 

We at RBP wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season! If your means allow, please consider donating to one of our Martha’s Vineyard based non-profits. We hope you are able to share joyous moments with those closest to you and reflect on all there is to be grateful for his season!

Martha’s Vineyard Dining Sourcebook

The latest publication to feature our photography is the Martha’s Vineyard Dining Sourcebook. This project marks the first-ever all-inclusive digital printed guide of all of the restaurants and dining destinations on Martha’s Vineyard. I couldn’t be more pleased with the finished product and I’m honored to have my photography showcased within the pages of this book. This guide was a gift to our restaurant community, with no restaurant paying to be included, and as a local foodie and champion of food equity, I knew it was the right fit for my photography.

Earlier this year I was presented with this woman-led project, which was a partnership with local digital marketing agency Shored Up Digital and Sourcebook Productions, a group that connects offline brands to the online world using next-generation QR code technology. Through innovative Flowcode technology, the Sourcebook gives users real-time information on all things dining in a virtually contactless way by offering up-to-date information straight from the digital destinations of our local restaurants.

As someone who has worked in editorial photography for decades, I knew that by providing my photography I was trusting the design team with their treatment within the book and this premium product did not disappoint. From the quality of the printing to the expertly curated palette pulled from the colors of my images, and the natural backdrops of Martha’s Vineyard, the Dining Sourcebook is a true work of art.

Woven throughout the pages of our beloved eateries the photos tell the story of the Island’s culinary scene and its abundant natural resources. There are pictures of the ample produce and striking farmland that many of our restaurant’s source from, and captivating scenes from the surrounding sea that yield so much fresh seafood straight to our plates.

I have always been passionate about environmental and food-related issues and the photos I selected for the book represent just that. I am a dedicated backyard grower and a strict believer that our health is linked to the sustainability of our land and the food that is grown within it. How lucky are we to now have a publication that encompasses all of our dining options while giving homage to the natural spaces that make it happen? 

Not only is the book beautiful, but it also provides tremendous utility to our Island diners, support to our restaurants and culinary outposts, and gives recognition to Island Grown Initiative and the Island Food Pantry, two organizations near and dear to my heart. 

The Martha’s Vineyard Dining Sourcebook was a true labor of love and a testament to the resounding spirit of Martha’s Vineyard and our resilient restaurateurs, shopkeepers, and food purveyors. Complimentary copies of the book are available at the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce and a digital version of the guide can be accessed at MVY.com/diningsourcebook.

We hope you think it’s as delicious as we do.

Winter Transitions into Spring and What I’m Doing In-Between

I love the transition from winter… In New England, you never really know when “spring” will arrive. Mother Nature likes to keep us on our toes, flirting with the warm weather. Temperatures might dip back down, but those stellar sun-filled days will become more regular, and the longer days get me excited for the warmer months ahead. 

As we settle into spring I eat differently and change up how I’m cooking. I get to introduce more fresh foods and I’m preparing for a whole lot more. Now’s the time I’m tending to my garden, and really trying to optimize it for a bountiful season ahead.

I’m cleaning up my yard, starting seedlings, adding organic matter to enrich the soil, removing leaves, and lining the planting beds and lawns. Each year I try to get rid of more grass and introduce more edible planting beds. This year I’m attempting to plant beans. I love the challenge of trying new things, seeing what works, and adjusting my practices.

As much as the weather allows I spend my weekends outside, determined to shake off the doldrums of winter. Now, newly vaccinated, I’m hopeful. I’m doing all I can to set myself up for success both inside my garden and out and looking forward to an awesome ground season.

Right now I’m enjoying radishes, spring herbs, nettles, scallions, chives, and mustard greens – the greens were overwintered in my unheated greenhouse. I’ve been foraging for watercress and enjoying oh, so many eggs. We recently got new hens and they are laying like crazy. My husband and I are enjoying every beautiful gift they give us. There are a lot of frittatas and egg sandwiches happening around here. My husband Philippe’s favorite breakfast is a bed of greens topped with a 2 minute boiled egg and smashed avocado. He eats it every day, a testament to his Swiss roots.

As the weather continues to go from raw to warm to balmy, there will be more grilling, and I can’t wait to barbeque. I’ll throw just about anything on the grill, drizzled with a little olive oil and topped with salt and pepper–even fruit. As the seasons change my palette does too. I do all I can to savor the freshest ingredients, highlighting their natural flavors and being thankful for another delicious spring.

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!