Clarissa Allen and Mitchell Posin of the Allen Farm Sheep and Wool Company of Chilmark have been named by the Permanent Endowment Fund of Martha’s Vineyard as the 2008 recipients of the Creative Living Award.
The fund will present the Creative Living Award on August 5 at the Grange Hall in West Tisbury beginning at 5:30 p.m.
The Creative Living Award was established in 1983 through the Ruth J. Bogan and Ruth Redding Fund. This fund honors the memory of Ruth Bogan who, in the words of her friend Ruth Redding, was a “gallant woman who loved beauty, who loved the Vineyard and who believed ‘anyone can do anything.’” The award recognizes members of the Vineyard community who embody that spirit and love for the Island.
“As the 25th recipients of the Creative Living Award, Clarissa Allen and Mitchell Posin truly reflect the spirit of Ruth Bogan and her belief that the inhabitants of the Vineyard should ‘value their treasure,’” said Debbie Hale, chair of the board of the Permanent Endowment Fund, in a prepared statement.
“They taught themselves how to be farmers and along the way helped preserve the beauty of the Island while showing all of us the importance of preserving our wonderful agricultural heritage,” Ms. Hale stated.
Over the past 33 years, Mr. Posin and Ms. Allen have worked to transform nearly 100 acres of rugged terrain into a productive sheep farm. Their Chilmark land has been in the Allen family for more than 200 years, although the couple only became farmers in an effort to keep the property when it came into Clarissa Allen’s care in the early 1970s. Starting with a few goats to clear the land, then adding some pigs and a flock of sheep, Mr. Posin and Ms. Allen began what has become the Allen Farm Sheep and Wool Company.
Through hard work, determination and a willingness to learn, the Allen Farm Sheep and Wool Company has been built into a fine example of sustainable agriculture on the Vineyard, producing free-range organic eggs, chicken and lamb enjoyed in homes and restaurants throughout the Island. Their retail store now offers clothing made from the wool from their sheep as well.
In addition, they have preserved land for their neighbors and visitors alike by committing nearly 30 of their 94 acres to permanent conservation.
“For all that Mitch and Clarissa have contributed to life on the Vineyard, it is with great admiration and respect that the Permanent Endowment Fund will be honoring them with this year’s Creative Living Award,” Ms. Hale stated.
The Permanent Endowment Fund is the Vineyard’s community foundation. Last year, the Endowment awarded more than $152,000 in grants to 58 nonprofits and supported 59 Island students with almost $158,000 in scholarships.