Blog Category: Lifestyle (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!

Reflecting on Summer, and Giving Thanks

It’s hard to believe it’s already October and we’re closing in on the end of the season. As we wind down here on Martha’s Vineyard, we reflect and give thanks.

The 2021 season proved to be different than we expected, but in the end, it was one of the most successful seasons in RBP history. Thanks to my clients, collaborators, and community for not only making it a lucrative one, but a most meaningful one.

To Our Resilient Brides and Grooms, You Deserve Everything.

With COVID forcing many of last year’s weddings to reschedule to 2021, our calendar was packed with even more nuptials. We admire our wedding clients who raised above the stress and hosted some of the most intimate and beautiful events we’ve witnessed.

Microweddings were all the rage, and what they lacked in size and scale they made up for in uniqueness and personalization. Smaller ceremonies meant a lot of extra time with us and the happy couple, while we explored the Island and they basked in that newlywed glow.

To those perseverant couples that were finally able to tie the knot in 2021, we admire your adaptability and commitment to the greatest gift of all, love. We felt even more connected to our couples this year and we wish them a lifetime of happiness! If you can pull off a COVID wedding you’re destined to overcome more of life’s challenges together!

We’re Already Saving The Dates for More Weddings in 2022 and 2023

With so many weddings rescheduled we’re booking further in advance than ever before. This season we met dozens of new couples through engagement photoshoots and secret proposal portraits and we can’t wait to see them in front of our lens again on the big day.

We’re booking up but we always appreciate referrals from our clients!

Family Portraits We’re Even More Fun

There was something about the family dynamics this season that made our family portrait sessions even more special. Perhaps it was the deeper bonds families have been able to form over the last year in a half together. Maybe it was a deeper appreciation of their time on Martha’s Vineyard, but whatever it was, it was in the air and we were soaking it up.

There was so much authenticity, movement, laughter, and love. It was pure joy to witness families being completely present and in tune with one another, it’s a simply magical perk of our job.

Collaborations Within Our Community Filled Our Souls this Season

On Martha’s Vineyard it always goes back to community, and some of our favorite projects of the season were those that allowed us to collaborate with our neighbors and friends and give back to the Island that has given us so much.

Below, Lucy Morrison, of the Coalition to Create the MV Housing Bank, posed for our story in Martha’s Vineyard Magazine. The Coalition’s goal is to create a housing bank supported by a reliable funding stream that allows for the construction of more affordable housing units for more Island residents. The lack of affordable housing continues to be one of the Island’s most pressing issues and we encourage you to learn more about this important initiative and what you can do to help.

Below is one of my shots that was featured in Bluedot Living, a new magazine published by the Martha’s Vineyard Times, and the first sustainable living magazine on Martha’s Vineyard. As the challenges of climate change continue to confront us at a rapid pace, and the vulnerability of our Island home increases. Bluedot Living presents impactful editorial and strategic solutions on the issues we face, and I am proud to contribute to this important project.

The first annual Martha’s Vineyard Oyster Fest set sail earlier this month and we were thrilled to capture this inaugural event. Originally slated for spring of 2020 but forced to reschedule due to COVID, this highly anticipated event featured thousands of oysters, a whole lot of wine, and education on the innovative work of our local oyster farmers and the incredible environmental contributions of those beloved bivalves.

Be sure to stay tuned for next year’s event!

Other delicious Martha’s Vineyard collaborations this season included photographing Yommi popsicles and Goldie’s Rotisserie, two companies committed to smart and thoughtful food.

Yommi makes superfood-infused frozen delights that taste as good as they look, and are made with ingredients our bodies love, like blueberry, honey, turmeric, cardamom, and ginger. They’re sold weekly at the West Tisbury Farmer’s Market and their freezers can be found in a variety of Island businesses including Morning Glory Farm and Cronig’s Healthy Additions.

Goldie’s Rotisserie is another forward-thinking food purveyor we had the pleasure of photographing this season. Goldie’s serves fresh hot chicken, crispy rotisserie veggies, griddled sandwiches, killer hot dogs, salads, and desserts from their iconic food truck that has become wildly popular since they launched earlier this year.

We’d Be Remiss If We Failed to Mention Our Favorite Shoot of the Season!

We genuinely love spending time with our clients, and one of our most memorable shoots was with a young woman who wanted to gift herself a portrait session. As a twin this year marked the first birthday she would spend without her sister by her side and she wanted to commemorate her independence with a fun, flirty lifestyle shoot around Martha’s Vineyard. Her energy was palpable, her smile was bright (as seen above) and we loved her zest for life and contagious exuberance!

It was a good reminder that every day is a special occasion and a photo session is always a good idea, no matter what milestone you are celebrating.

So send us a message if you’d like to get in front of our camera soon, and remember holidays are fast approaching! Portrait sessions make for great holiday cards and gifts, and we’d love to see 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

Bringing the farm, and the sea, to school

If you ever have the opportunity to eat at the West Tisbury school for lunch you won’t be disappointed. The impressive food program, led by rockstar chef Jenny Devivo is quite the operation. And Jenny, well she’s the cherry on top.

Since 2011, the head chef and cafeteria director for the up-Island regional school district (West Tisbury School and Chilmark School), has made it her mission to source local food for the schools’ daily lunches. Part of Jenny’s dedication is fostering real relationships with local food purveyors, farmers, and fishermen; which enables her to enrich the developing palettes of Martha’s Vineyard with her farm-to-cafeteria-table menus.

Each Friday Jenny’s approach is more fish-to-table with her local “Catch of the Day” program, the first of its kind in the country. Since 2016, the program has been providing students with locally sourced and sustainably harvested fish through Menemsha Fish House and Boston-based regional seafood purveyor Red’s BestOur friends at Island Grown Schools are highlighting seafood as their Harvest of the Month for April, so it’s only fitting we spotlight Jenny’s incredible work that brings the bounty of our local waters directly to our Island’s most selective eaters.

Getting kids to eat fish sounds like a challenge but Jenny’s got it down. “Fish Friday is as popular as pizza day,” she states proudly. Not only do the students take the bait, literally, but they’re educated on the sourcing too. Red’s Best uses traceability software with quick-response (QR) codes on the packaging that Jenny can scan and track. With that information she can tell the school community who caught their fish, off what boat it came, and how and where it was caught. That’s just about as local, sustainable and transparent as you can get.

The first time we visited the West Tisbury kitchen Jenny was serving Roasted Pollack with Lemon, Capers and Butter. Other Friday favorites include her popular fish chowder made with locally sourced sustainable white fish like hake, cod, and haddock. The day we visited she was serving Fish Cakes and a special tasting treat of Blue Moon Oysters, harvested by fisherman Scott Castro from Katama Bay. These fresh bivalve mollusks were baked in the oven and then served on the half shell with turmeric butter…yummm! She’s also been known to serve up Paella, Mediterranean Fish Stew, Fish Tacos, Teriyaki Salmon, Baked Fish with Butter Cracker Crumb, and a Fish Sandwich.

Any day of the week you can find Jenny and her assistant chefs Maura Martin and Nisa Webster buzzing around the West Tisbury School kitchen preparing fresh, local lunch for up to 550 children and staff each day. That reflects an almost 100% participation rate in the program, up from close to 40% when she first took over the kitchen several years ago.

It all started in 2011, when the up-Island regional school district voted to opt out of using the corporate school lunch provider they had contracted, and hired Jenny instead. She, along with many supporters including Noli Taylor of Island Grown Initiative (IGI), helped salvage materials from the old Edgartown school, including the prep table, the roll-down window, the steam tables, even the sinks. The greater Island community helped her renovate the kitchen in two months, and she got to work. The mission was to cook healthier food and sourcing from as many local resources as possible. It’s safe to say it was the right choice, and there’s no looking back. “It’s been hard but rewarding,” says Jenny.

Children are offered a hot lunch option daily (think herb roasted chicken or local pollock and haddock chowder) as well as a daily offering of salad bar and egg, chicken or tuna salad sandwich and fresh vegetables. The ever-changing salad bar is a lavish offering all its own, with fresh local produce, and scratched cooked, freshly prepared salads that as Jenny says “push the boundaries of flavor.” You might find an apple fennel salad or beet hummus, along with several local grain options, and teachers and students alike load up their plates.

So how does she do it? By 9am each morning she has the orders in for the West Tisbury and Chilmark schools, which allows her to eliminate food waste as much as possible, and know what she’s up against for the day. Any food not consumed is either reused the following day or composted by IGI along with the help of the students, and it’s something they take seriously. “I’ll see kids fish things out of the garbage that should have been composted or call each other out for not doing it properly.” Clearly her methods are working.

Jenny prides herself on making approachable food that inspires the students to try new things, while setting limits on selections to encourage them to venture outside of their comfort zone. “If we eliminate 17 choices for lunch, the cost goes down, and it allows us to introduce the kids to new flavors.” Of course living on an island with access to fresh local food helps, and she readily takes advantage of it. In addition to locally caught seafood, Jenny is able to source meat and produce from Beetlebung Farm, The Good Farm, The Grey Barn, Morning Glory Farm, Thimble Farm, Cleveland Farm and Whippoorwill, and she genuinely appreciates everyone’s contributions to her kitchen.

According to Jenny it’s a community program that encourages participation, and sharing. She’s come to see how it has helped kids to take pride in the presentation of their food, and to know where it comes from. “When we’re in here cooking all day and they can smell it in the halls, it’s a sensory experience. They already feel connected to it, and it boosts enrollment.” And the kids aren’t only eating it, they’re cooking it too. “We have kids that ask to help us prepare food and we bring them back there and put them to work.”

Jenny’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. It’s obvious that the students and faculty love her and the rest of the country is taking note too. These days when she’s not in the kitchen she travels throughout New England consulting other schools on how to implement similar programs. “It’s all about getting the kids to eat real food… The options are endless when it comes to feeding kids.”