Blog Category: Publications

Not all is quiet on Martha’s Vineyard: IGI’s Farm Hub keeps much alive through the dead of winter

There’s a common misconception about the “off-season” on Martha’s Vineyard. Many visitors think we simply shut off a switch and the Island lays dormant throughout the winter months, only to awaken in the spring once talks of summer vacations return. Despite a welcomed quietness and a relatively slower change of pace, the winter season is still very productive on-Island. No program makes good use of the colder months better than Island Grown Initiative’s (IGI) Winter Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).

IGI’s winter CSA means that Island families can still look forward to farm fresh produce, even when local farm stands have called it quits for the season, and access to local produce is limited to what’s available at Cronig’s or the indoor West Tisbury Farmers Market (which wraps up for the season mid December). For those families lucky enough to score one of forty spots on the CSA, winter is just as nutritious and delicious as summer.

Members of the winter CSA are entitled to weekly allotments of mixed greens, herbs and sometimes even a fresh pint of strawberries. CSA food distribution takes place at IGI’s massive Farm Hub, where members pick up their bounty, and where most of the winter produce originates. The Farm Hub is the headquarters for IGI’s growing operation which encompasses forty acres in Vineyard Haven. Tucked back off of an unassuming bumpy Island road, the magnificent property at Thimble Farm features a sprawling acre-sized hydroponic greenhouse that allows the magic of local, thoughtful food production to take place all year long.

The massive greenhouse was originally designed by a previous owner to grow tomatoes on the hydroponic system, but IGI uses it to produce a wide variety of food crops as well as fish. During the peak seasons of spring and fall more than 4000 hydroponic plants are in the system. Tomatoes, arugula, peppers and more are harvested for IGI’s free community lunch program, which served 3,000 meals this past summer alone. Its plethora of produce is also sold through the organization’s Mobile Market, a truck stocked with affordable, locally grown fruits and vegetables, available to everyone on-Island in pursuit of fresh, local food.

During the winter months however, the greenhouse is sectioned off and the staff of the Farm Hub focuses on growing cold weather crops that can easily benefit from solar gain, including strawberries, lettuce, cucumbers and salad greens, among others. IGI’s hydroponic system allows plants to grow in a water based, nutrient-rich solution, and peat is used to allow the plants to constantly be in contact with the water below it. The water comes from four tanks of rainbow trout that are also farmed on the property (and occasionally included in the CSA allotment), and the water is efficiently repurposed for the hydroponic system. This means that even in the dead of winter there is always water running and new food being cultivated at the Farm Hub. It’s an impressive operation any day of the year and one we’re especially grateful for it now when other options are so limited.

In addition to the CSA, crops grown during the colder season are sold to the schools at deeply discounted prices, and to those in need through a partnership with the Vineyard Food Equity Network. For more about IGI’s winter CSA check out “The Green Green Fields of Winter” by Nicole Grace Mercier, and photos by yours truly, in the latest issue of Martha’s Vineyard Magazine. To sign up for the CSA email office@igimv.org or call 508-687-9062, space is limited.

Living the life with influencer CeCe Olisa

We had a whirlwind of a summer, full of exciting shoots and memorable moments we’ll be thinking about again and again. One of our most inspiring and enjoyable shoots was with lifestyle blogger, entrepreneur, creative consultant, and all around great girl CeCe Olisa during her summer stay on Martha’s Vineyard.

And boy did she have fun! We photographed her enjoying ice cream in front of Scoops with her girlfriends, and snapped her along the hydrangea lined streets of Edgartown.

CeCe was a gorgeous subject to capture all over town, and a pleasure to work with. She’s built a career on making others feel more comfortable about their bodies and her confidence and charisma are something to admire–not to mention it makes her oh, so photogenic!

We accompanied her to aerial yoga at the Yoga Barn (what a workout!), out for morning coffee and a stroll along a beautiful north shore beach, making for a perfect summer day on Martha’s Vineyard. Be sure to check out her blog to read all about her time here, and follow along with her other adventures.

P.S. We just heard that she’s giving a TEDx Talk at Fresno State later this month and we can’t wait to see the video!

More about CeCe

CeCe has been named one of the “Top 10 New York Fashion Bloggers” by WhoWhatWear and a “person who proves you can be fit at any size” by MTV.com, CeCe Olisa is a Lifestyle Blogger and Co-Founder of theCURVYcon, a convention celebrating body positivity and plus size fashion during New York Fashion Week. CeCe creates wildly popular plus size workout videos on her YouTube channel and encourages women to workout because they love their bodies, not because they hate their bodies. CeCe Olisa has appeared on the Rachael Ray Show, The Wendy Williams Show, CNN, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Refinery29 and more. She adheres to her motto, “Don’t wait on your weight to live the life you want.”

March’s Harvest of the Month: The Incredible Edible Egg

Some of you might remember “The Incredible, Edible Egg,” a marketing slogan created for the American Egg Board back in the 70s to help consumers discover the value of eggs. Now more than ever the jingle still holds true, especially as protein rich diets continue to dominate nutrition chatter and we look to more sustainable methods of food production. This March our friends at Island Grown Schools (IGS) are highlighting eggs as their Harvest of the Month and we couldn’t be happier to help them celebrate this incredible, edible superfood.

I’ve always loved eggs but my affinity has grown even deeper over time. About fifteen years ago our family was inspired to keep chickens so we could be guaranteed the freshest eggs available. Surprisingly, chickens are relatively easy to care for, as long as you have the space and equipment–and aren’t too afraid to get up close and personal with those fine, feathered friends. We assure you, it’s worth it for the eggs.

Keeping chickens has helped us eliminate scraps and they produce a natural fertilizer which is a plus for our compost. Additionally, we get to enjoy the peacefulness of the animals on our property and above all the eggs, you really can’t beat a fresh egg with that vibrant, orange yolk. Our neighbors love it too, whenever we’re out of town they’re quick to “chicken sit” so they can yield the eggs themselves, it’s a win-win for the neighborhood.

 

We all know eggs pack a lot of protein, but they’re also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A and B-12, riboflavin, phosphorus, and selenium. In addition to being nutritious, they’re tasty too, and oh so versatile. I start most days with a soft boiled egg over greens with a pinch of sea salt and a teaspoon of flax or olive oil. If it doesn’t make it into my breakfast it makes it into my salad for lunch, sometimes both. A hard boiled egg is a great snack on the go and sometimes I’ll even add an egg to my soup for added richness and texture. My teenage son Miles loves eggs too, he’ll add them on top of his burgers for extra protein and flavor.

It seems everyone has their own strategy when it comes to enjoying eggs, and we don’t discriminate. Our friends at IGS suggest a six-minute boiled egg for the perfect salad topping, and veggie loaded frittatas for a quick breakfast or dinner. They also praise salt cured egg yolks (see recipe below), an easy preparation that can add an incredible umami flavor and a bright dash of color to virtually any dish. By simply covering yolks in a salt mixture to draw out the moisture you can transform its flavor and texture, similar to curing meat and fish. Once the yolk is cured and hardened it can be grated or shaved on to onto pasta, salad, crostini, or anything else you might top with parmesan cheese.

Luckily for those on Martha’s Vineyard (even those of you without your own chickens) there’s access to local, farm fresh eggs throughout the year. The Farm Institute in Katama produces a total of about 80,000 eggs a year!

 

You can also find fresh eggs (depending on seasonality and availability) at Ghost Island Farm, Grey Barn Farm, Morning Glory Farm, Mermaid Farm, and North Tabor Farm, and at Cronig’s Market and Tisbury Farm Market. Here’s a tip from IGS: if fresh eggs are unwashed, they retain a special protective coating on the shell, and you can store on the counter for up to two weeks. Be sure to wash eggs before you use them. Washed eggs must be kept in the fridge. Locally-grown farm eggs can cost about $6/dozen, but at 50 cents per egg, they are one of the most affordable sources of Island-grown protein.

 

Cured Egg Yolks (Next time your recipe calls for just egg whites – save the yolks!)

Ingredients:

4 large local egg yolks

1 ¾ cup Kosher salt

1 ½ cup sugar

Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Combine the salt and sugar in a medium bowl and mix well. Spread ½ of the mixture in a small glass baking dish.

Using the back of a spoon, make 4 evenly spaced indentations into the salt mixture. Sprinkle some pepper into each indentation. Carefully place the egg yolks in each of the indentations making sure no egg is sitting directly on the glass. Gently cover yolks completely with the remaining salt mixture. Seal lid on glass baking dish or tightly cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 4 days.  

Preheat oven to 150/170 degrees F (whatever the lowest setting is on your oven). Remove egg yolks from the salt mixture. The yolks should now have a gummy-like texture. Gently brush the salt mixture off each yolk and carefully rinse in cold water to remove excess salt. Discard remaining salt mixture.  

Place yolks on a cooling rack (sprayed with non-stick spray) on top of a cookie sheet and bake for 1.5 – 2 hours until yolks are firm through. Turn off oven and let yolks remain in the oven until completely cooled. Store yolks in the fridge in an airtight container.

Randi Baird is a founding member and president of Island Grown Initiative’s Board of Directors and has long been committed to promoting local, sustainable food choices on Martha’s Vineyard.

 

 

What’s next? Wedding trends to look out for in 2018

Over the last thirty years we’ve photographed hundreds of weddings both on and off Martha’s Vineyard. Each one is different and uniquely personal and we’re always impressed with the thoughtful, creative details our brides and grooms incorporate into their special day.

We’ve seen a lot of wedding trends come and go (remember disposable cameras at each table, and the introduction of the cupcake tree?) and 2018 weddings will no doubt be marked by their own styles and traits. We’ve been following along with our favorite wedding blogs–The Knot, Martha Stewart Weddings, WeddingWire, Junebug Weddings–and have highlighted five trends and predictions we keep seeing pop up for 2018.

  1. Even more personalization. As the traditional wedding has evolved it seems now more than ever couples are embracing personalization and customization over the conventional. Nowadays the wedding planning process begins with the couple determining the overall vibe they want to set and the experience they want to curate for their guests. The Knot offers a helpful Style Quiz we recommend to those in the early planning stages, and if you’re planning a wedding on Martha’s Vineyard get in touch with our friends at KG Events & Design to determine the best theme for you.

 2. Taking it inside. It looks like more people might be opting for indoor venues as a way to safeguard against the unpredictable weather, while embracing architectural details that speak to them. Historic homes, libraries, museums, and industrial lofts will top the list, offering eclectic, romantic touches. On Martha’s Vineyard we love the Old Whaling Church and the Daniel Fisher House in downtown Edgartown. Both can be reserved through the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust for a  (relatively) reasonable tax deductible fee.

3. Flowers, flowers everywhere. Look forward to seeing more flowers in unexpected places, from lush arrangements to living botanical bars, to vertical hanging plants above the tables, potted plants along the aisle and large bohemian statement wreaths. Dogwoods and baby breath are expected to make a comeback, along with a lot of greenery. As far as color goes the trend seems to be dark and moody, and all signs point to purple being the color of the year. Think dramatic hues like wine, lilac, lavender, and mauve. When it comes to wedding flowers on Martha’s Vineyard we trust the thoughtful and creative work of Morrice Florist and Tea Lane Farm to provide the perfect floral designs for any affair.

4. Covering up. Sleeves and capes are likely to adorn a lot of wedding dresses this year. Brides are taking cues from the runway and this year they’re saying that bell sleeves, sheer capes, lace capelets, and kimonos will appear at the altar too. On Martha’s Vineyard the extra fabric will be especially useful to combat the chilly ocean breeze and cooler temperatures of the spring and fall.

5. Embracing the local culture. As the trend of destination weddings continues (and Martha’s Vineyard popularity too) couples are more and more invested in connecting with the local culture and sharing it with their guests. We recommend sourcing locally made wedding favors, like small jars of honey from Island Bee Company of Martha’s Vineyard, or the delectable confectionaries of Chilmark Chocolates. Another great way to embrace the local scene is to plan a pre or post wedding activities that is specific to the wedding destination. On Martha’s Vineyard try hosting a clambake in Menemsha, a bonfire on the beach, or a fishing charter for a rehearsal dinner or special event.

Spring will be here before you know it and our weekends will soon be packed with weddings of all kinds–romantic and whimsical, woodsy but chic, intimate and extravagant–and we can’t wait to see all that’s in store! In the meantime we’ll keep you informed of wedding trends and our favorite ideas for planning the perfect occasion. If you missed our last wedding post be sure to have a read for helpful planning tips and our recommendations for local vendors on Martha’s Vineyard.

Don’t miss the chance to enter to win an engagement photo shoot with us, winners will be featured in the Summer/Fall 2018 issue of Martha’s Vineyard Island Weddings magazine. Deadline to enter is March 16, 2018 at 12:00 PM.

 

 

Enhance your professional image and save during our special headshot promotion

When was the last time you updated your headshot? Chances are it’s been too long. Headshots are critical to your professional image but most people put off getting new ones because it’s a hassle or they’re reluctant to get in front of the camera. Well, we’re making it real easy for you.

On Wednesday, February 7th we’re giving Martha’s Vineyard residents a chance to get them done quickly, painlessly, and affordably. We’ll be opening up our West Tisbury studio to Islanders for one hour professional headshot sessions. You’ll get a proper background and lighting setup, plus a 20% off discount. Convince a friend or co-worker to join you and we’ll throw in some extra savings. 

Contact us to make an appointment, spots are filling up fast. If you can’t make it on February 7th we’ll be offering them again on March 7th and 14th, just let us know what date and time works best for you.