Jennie Ganz
Even though it was raining, the fields at Thimble Farm on a recent morning were being picked by enthusiatic strawberry aficionados and contented workers.
Thimble Farm


Elisha R. Smith, an Oak Bluffs farmer for more than three-quarters of a century and for more than two decades the president of the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society, died last Friday at his home in Vineyard Haven at the age of 90. It was thanks to his determination, hard bargaining and skill at dealing with people that, in 1992, the society acquired the land that is the site of today’s Agricultural Hall. The acquisition of that West Tisbury Panhandle property where the annual fair is held was one of the proudest moments of his life, Elisha Smith said.
Island Grown Initiative announced preliminary plans this week for a campus-style farm center at the former Thimble Farm Property, including a refurbished greenhouse, parcels of land for tenant farmers and a slaughterhouse facility. At the farm network’s annual farmers’ dinner on Monday night, executive director Sarah McKay laid out the organization’s initial plans for the historic agricultural property.


thimble farm

Andrew Woodruff emerged from a tangle of tomato vines in the Thimble Farm greenhouse last Sunday morning, carrying the first ripe tomato of the season.

“I don’t know who to give it to,” Mr. Woodruff smiled. Standing in front of him were Sarah McKay, president of the Island Grown Initiative, Eric Grubman, the former owner of the property and Allan and Shelley Holt, who recently donated money to help IGI buy the farm and keep it in active food production for future generations.

Mr. Woodruff placed the red fruit in Mr. Holt’s hand.

Island Grown Initiative paid $2.6 million for Thimble Farm, registry of deeds documents show.

Thimble Farm, 40 acres of fertile farmland in the center of the Vineyard whose future has been uncertain for the better part of the last year, will be saved as a working farm.

Thimble Farm has been rescued once again from possible sale into private hands. And a collective sigh of relief went around the Vineyard farming and conservation community this week at the news that thirty-seven acres of friable farmland in the center of the Island will remain in active food production, hopefully this time forever.