Island Grown Initiative Acquires Thimble Farm

Island Grown Initiative (IGI) has reached an agreement to purchase the 40.7-acre Thimble Farm Property located just off of Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road with land in three towns including Tisbury, West Tisbury and Oak Bluffs.   The property is one of the largest working farms left on the island and has been in commercial vegetable production since the 1980s.   IGI is purchasing and operating the property with the support of a number of contributors, including Allan and Shelley Holt, seasonal Chilmark residents.

Allan and Shelley Holt became involved in the purchase after reading about the IGI’s effort to preserve the property in the Martha’s Vineyard Gazette.  The Holts discussed the farm with Mary Kenworth, owner of State Road Restaurant and a Core Group Member of IGI.  Motivated by their love of the island and their concern for the future of the farm, the Holts decided to make a significant financial contribution to IGI towards the purchase of the 40.7-acre property.  Their action revived the effort to keep the farm in sustainable agriculture and allowed IGI to make a viable offer towards a purchase.

IGI’s move to acquire Thimble Farm is the culmination of a long effort to preserve the property.  In 2007 the property was purchased by Eric Grubman and Elizabeth Compton, who are also seasonal residents of the Vineyard.  The significant size and scenic value of the farm made the property a prime target for the development of a private equestrian estate.  Andrew Woodruff, of West Tisbury, had been farming the property and attempting to find people who would support the long-term vision of keeping the property in farming. Mr. Woodruff worked with various people and organizations to further this mission. In coordination with Mr. Woodruff’s vision, Mr. Grubman and his family got involved to give Island organizations time to formulate a long-term plan.  In connection with IGI’s purchase of the property, many organizations have been involved and given valuable input including Sherriff’s Meadow, Land Bank, Agricultural Society, FARM Institute, Island Housing Trust, Vineyard Conservation Society, and others.

This purchase by IGI with the support of donors and other Island groups will enable IGI to ensure the land remains in vegetable farming and associated agriculture.

“This farm is an opportunity for IGI to work with local farmers to help them keep the land in food production,” said IGI President Sarah McKay. “We thank everyone who has been part of this effort, particularly Allan and Shelley Holt – this wouldn’t be happening without their generosity, and we are deeply grateful for what they are doing for the future of farming on this Island.”

Five-Corners Property Donated

The Island Housing Trust is pleased to announce one of the island’s single largest affordable housing donations. Steve Bernier, owner of Cronig’s Market, has purchased a property at 6 Water Street in downtown Vineyard Haven, near five-corners, and donated it to the Island Housing Trust. The property is part of an important gateway to the island near the Steamship Authority ferry terminal. “The Island Housing Trust is incredibly grateful to Steve Bernier for his generous donation, and looks forward to working with the Town of Tisbury to re-use this centrally located property for needed workforce housing” said Richard Leonard, chairman of the Island Housing Trust. Property owners interested in donating land or restrictions to the Island Housing Trust, are encouraged to contact Philippe Jordi, executive director of the Island Housing Trust at 508-693-1117 or learn more at

Permanent Endowment Awards Grant

The Permanent Endowment of Martha’s Vineyard announced that the Island Housing Trust is the recipient of a grant in the amount of $1,500 from its General Discretionary Fund for the replacement of a computer and a software upgrade.  The Endowment received 25 proposals this fall totaling $125,923 in funding requests.   The Board has carefully evaluated each application and has awarded $27,550 in grants to 12 nonprofit organizations working on the Island in the fields of art and culture, education, elderly, the environment, health and human services, housing and youth.