The Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society will be able to offer affordable housing for three farmers this summer, after the late Island homesteader Paul Jackson bequeathed his Edgartown home and garden to the organization after his death last year.

“This is a really big opportunity,” said agricultural society executive director Lauren Lynch after the announcement this week.

Lauren Lynch, agricultural society executive director at Paul Jackson's planting shed. — Ray Ewing

Mr. Jackson's donation came as a complete surprise to the group, who only found out about it when Mr. Jackson’s wife, Ellen O’Brien, died last year. The board of directors of the society voted to accept the gift late last month, before announcing the transfer.

The one-acre property includes a three-bedroom house, extensive gardens and a grove of fruit trees. Ms. Lynch said the society is planning to rent out the house to a farm to be used for worker housing, as they develop a more long-term plan.

Mr. Jackson’s property bears the mark of an avid gardener, with plenty of planters and deer fencing and garden tools. His driveway is paved with scallop shells, which were collected, Ms. Lynch said, to make a kind of “scallop tea” used as fertilizer for his gardens.

Property is filled with lush gardens. — Ray Ewing

Standing in the scallop-shelled driveway Tuesday morning, Ms. Lynch spoke about Mr. Jackson’s legacy.

“He was a legend, an organic farmer before organic farming was a thing,” she said. “He was like the ultimate homesteader.”

Mr. Jackson was especially well known for the weighty vegetables he submitted to the Agricultural Fair each year.

Ms. Lynch said the organization eventually hopes to find a farmer who can utilize the gardens on Mr. Jackson’s property, but for now they are focused on getting the house ready to accept new tenants.

“There’s work that needs to be done,” she said, “but it will definitely be a way to support farmers by providing housing.”