It’s funny the memories we keep.

There are the expected ones: a first kiss, college graduation, family holiday celebrations. And the not so expected: a sunrise beach walk alone on Christmas morning, the feel of the stiff Florida grass on bare feet used to the Vineyard’s downy lawns.

For whatever reason, one of those unexplained sticky memories happened for me one warm June afternoon, two months into my first ever newspaper job. A cub reporter for this newspaper, I landed my own newspaper column. And this was not just any column, but Farm and Field, the Gazette’s seasonal, weekly musings on the Vineyard’s farms, farmers, growers and edibles. It was a shuffling of personnel, rather than personal aptitude, that got me into the predicament.

Clad that day in a skirt and flats without any knowledge whatsoever of how to grow, get dirty, or labor for hours outdoors, I never thought of turning down the opportunity. Having a column is every newspaper person’s dream. And if that column was about farming, I was going to learn farming.

It was tough at first, but when I left the Vineyard and the Gazette two years later, I knew I’d earned my keep, farming oysters at the crack of dawn, tromping through the Morning Glory fields to pull Jim Athearn down from his tractor when none of his staff dared interrupt him. I learned the importance of growing Brazilian crops on Island farms. I understood windmills and root cellars, chicken CSAs and vegetable CSAs.

But that was the small stuff. Writing about farms and agriculture on Martha’s Vineyard opened my eyes to an ingrained Island history and way of life. Here, we eat locally and sustainably not because it is hip and trendy, but because it’s practical. It’s economical. It’s the way we need to live and eat and do business to survive. It’s the way we’ve always done things.

With each column filed, my pride in my self-sustaining community grew. I left with some dirt under my fingernails and a thriving tomato plant.

And so it came about that, two-plus years after moving to the mainland and the world of daily newspapers, I found myself in a greenhouse in Israel calling a farmer’s bluff last month.

A continued interest in food, drink and sustainable eating led me to apply for a 10-day, culinary-themed trip to the country through Birthright, a program that sends Jews who are 18 to 26 years old to Israel for free. This particular trip was a the first culinary tour in the program’s history. There were 40 of us — like-minded foodies, waiters, a restaurant owner and a few who wound up in the bunch accidentally. We spent our time crisscrossing Israel with stops at a robotic dairy farm, chocolate and olive oil factories, a winery and bustling local markets overflowing with spices, dried dates and apricots, warm pita bread, scarves and pushy Israelis. When we weren’t eating, we floated in the Dead Sea, toured the Holocaust Museum and took part in five-hour long Shabbat dinners with Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem.

This afternoon on the farm was day seven of the trip and I was exhausted.

“Nowhere else in the world will you see tomatoes in all these colors on one farm,” the farm’s owner told our group as she held up a handful of fresh-off-the-vine cherry tomatoes in red, orange, green and yellow.

“Well, that’s just not true,” I blurted out.

Fifty heads stopped and looked at me. For seven days I’d watched my peers wander farms wide-eyed, milking goats for the first time, eating eggs laid that morning, and I couldn’t keep quiet any longer.

The only girl from an agrarian community (who’d milked goats and bought her eggs from her next-door neighbors) and I started talking, first about the tomatoes we grow in our Island community — tomatoes, sure, in reds, oranges, yellows and greens, but also in purples, in stripes, in colors of the sunset. Then I told them about those eggs from the Allen Farm, still warm and with a feather or two stuck to the shell, with yolks the shade of school buses. I told them about buying fish caught just hours before at Larsen’s and about eating venison mid-winter because, on the Vineyard, hunting is still a way of life for some. I told them about our farmers’ markets and the gardens our public schools have started. And they listened.

“So how big is this Island?” the farm owner asked. Israel — with all its deserts and beaches, mountains and farms and political turmoil — is the size of New Jersey. This lady knew from small.

“Ten miles wide and 20 miles long,” I told her. And as I did, I swelled with pride. On the trip I’d watched as my peers had “aha” moments; many described lives back home that were missing spirituality, or religion, or devoid of some meaning that they’d found in Israel. Many extended their trip, or talked about returning to the country to visit or study.

Right then, in that Israeli greenhouse, I had my aha moment. I wanted to go home.

Martha’s Vineyard to me is the holy land. It’s got spirituality in spades. The connection to the land is like none I’ve ever found elsewhere. Vineyarders are so proud to call themselves just that. Our community gives of itself time and again to help our neighbors and friends. It’s a healing, supportive place with beaches infinitely more beautiful than any I saw in the Holy Land. And, as I popped an Israeli cherry tomato in my mouth, I concluded what I’d been suspecting all along — our tomatoes are better, too.

Julia Rappaport is assistant arts and lifestyle editor at the Boston Herald and a former reporter at the Vineyard Gazette.