Bob Daniels sat on the edge of his red pickup truck, a bounty of flowers, kale, potatoes and rhubarb spread out on the table in front of him, waiting for the market bell to ring. As one of the longest-selling vendors at the West Tisbury Farmers’ Market, Mr. Daniels has been waiting for the opening bell every June for the past 36 years.

And with the flick of a wrist at nine o’clock, the market’s summer season was officially open for business. Coffee, pastries, baskets and wallets in hand, customers began to trickle into the stalls around the old Grange Hall, eager to welcome the beginning of the summer harvest.

The owner of Old Town Gardens in Edgartown, Mr. Daniels has been at the farmers’ market since day one. As one of the original managers of the market, he said he continues to farm well into his old age simply because he can.

“It’s just something you do,” Mr. Daniels said. “I don’t want to give it up.”

The market is home to young and old farmers, artisans, bakers, chefs and caterers — and on Saturday all were happy to be back for a new season.

You're never too young to know good food. — Ray Ewing

Lisa Fisher has been at the market since 1990, and is the only certified organic farmer on the Vineyard. Selling asparagus, garlic scapes, arugula, flowers, lavender, herbs and rhubarb, Mrs. Fisher said growing organically isn’t hard, it just takes a little extra work.

“It’s real food, real taste, and real flavor,” she said. “And you’re supporting me directly.” While disappointed that no other farm on the Island has taken measures to become certified organic, she was still happy to be around her fellow vendors and farmers again.

“My favorite part of the market is the camaraderie among all the vendors,” Andrea Rogers said. “We all come out of the woodwork after a long winter.”

Asparagus season is short, so why wait? — Ray Ewing

Mrs. Rogers has been selling her homemade brooms at the West Tisbury market for 15 years, and she also sells them at the Vineyard Artisans festivals, which she has managed for many years. “I’ve never had lavender for the first farmers’ market ever,” Mrs. Rogers said excitedly, as she welcomed back new and returning customers.

At the other end of the market was a new face here. Dan Sauer was so enthralled with growing his own food for the kitchen at the Outermost Inn in Aquinnah, where he was chef last year, he decided to start farming his own plot of land. The result is 7a Farm (named for the hardiness factor of Vineyard land) from where he not only grows and sells produce, but does private catering as well. Asked how he would like people’s eating habits to change, Mr. Sauer said he urged people to think about how they get their food and where it comes from.

“Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to eat local,” he added. “You don’t want to lose the joy in eating and cooking. Just be educated.”

FARM Institute has pickup truck, pickup band. — Ray Ewing

Mr. Sauer isn’t the only new thing about the market this summer. Wheatgrass juicer Bridget Conlin has a stall; chef Chris Fischer is returning to the market, and market manager Linda Alley has her fingers crossed that fresh local lobsters will be sold in the coming weeks.

Mrs. Alley said Vineyarders should mark their calendars for a mid-August market throw-down, where Island chefs will compete Iron Chef-style with market produce.

With nearly 40 vendors this year, Mrs. Alley said she and committee members make sure the West Tisbury market offers a variety of options. For example, this year they placed a cap on flower growers. “We don’t like to have a glut [of one area] at the market,” she said.

“I feel that we’re really unique in the way that . . . we only allow growers who grow everything on the Vineyard and are value-added people,” Mrs. Alley said. Eight winter markets have been organized to encourage Islanders to continue eating locally during the off-season, and this summer she said they are pushing for more young farmers to participate in the markets.

Kids and parents alike will be happy to see the playground next to West Tisbury town hall has reopened with a shiny new jungle gym. Nancy Accola, a fourth generation summer resident from Cambridge, can remember running around the playground as a child.

“My daughter played there, and my grandkids will play there in a few weeks,” Mrs. Accola said, carrying an overflowing basketful of Island produce.

Generations of Islanders have been coming to the West Tisbury market for 36 years now, coming back every summer to buy from Beetlebung Farm, Pam’s Pesto, Morning Glory Farm, Katama Apiary and Honey, Mermaid Farm, and Beth’s Bakery, to name a few.

Julie Sireputoski from the Orange Peel Bakery in Aquinnah was selling pastries and breads Saturday morning, and was happy to be back for a second year at the market. “I love talking to the people and how happy they are to be here,” she said.

Daisy Lifton echoed the sentiment, as she helped Khen Tran serve egg rolls and Asian noodles to eager customers first thing in the morning. Known to most as the egg roll lady, Mrs. Tran has become a staple at the West Tisbury market over the past 23 years.

Many were eating Mrs. Tran’s egg rolls for breakfast, something that happens every Saturday, Mrs. Lifton said. “People are so happy to eat her food, and they have such love for her,” Mrs. Lifton said, dishing out rolls. “I’m just happy I get a little bit of that glow.”


The West Tisbury Farmers’ Market is held at the Grange Hall in the center of West Tisbury on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Wednesday markets will begin on June 23.