History of Morning Glory Farm
Morning Glory Farm, started in 1975 by James and Deborah Athearn, grows about 55 acres of vegetables and small fruits, here on the island of Martha's Vineyard. Small successive plantings of a wide variety of crops supply the farmstand from May through December.
Crops include sweet corn, lettuce, carrots, beets, tomatoes, melons, potatoes, beans, squash, pumpkins, and more. Our morganically grown herb garden supplies a full assortment of culinary herbs. We also raise 2 acres of cut flowers, and small plantings of strawberries, blueberries, peaches, and beach plums.
We keep beef cows on pasture in Chilmark for whom we harvest 40 acres of hay and we also produce eggs, pork and fresh, pasture-raised chickens to sell in the farmstand.
Seven acres of our vegetable fields are farmed morganically (not certified) and we try to manage the rest of our land with a minimum of pesticides and with attention to the long- term health of the soil.
James and Deborah Athearn started Morning Glory Farm in 1975 on family wooded land on Meshacket Road. In the first years they cleared a small vegetable plot and room for a barn and pasture for milking cows. The yields of the small plot were sold at the farmhouse in a small shed, and at the Farmers Market in West Tisbury. The farm name grew from the vision of the sun rising over lush, green fields, cows with udders full of milk ambling past bountiful gardens and hedgerows lively with honeybees; true wealth of nature's glory.
Eventually they out grew the shed and seeking a greater market they moved to the end of Meshacket Road in the lot at Ed Tyra's locker plant in 1979. After two years there Jim and Debbie decided to build their own farm stand on the site where it is now. The original building, built in 1981, was a 18x20 foot post and beam. There have been several additions since then, more greenhouses, an employee residence, the vegetable barn with its two farm kitchens and an equipment maintenance building, among other improvements. The fields and crops grew and flourished, and at the present point are actively working over 120 acres and hire a staff of up to 100 employees. In 2010 a large post and beam barn replaced the original farmstand, which now houses our farm stand.
Jim and Debbie raised three children on the farm. Their daughter Prudence, a Registered Dietitian, along with her husband Josh Levy, also a Registered Dietitian, and their two boys Kyle, age 5 and Judah, age 2 are now back on the island after years in Boulder, Colorado and Portland Maine. Prudence & Josh are the owners of Vineyard Nutrition, a medical practice that offers nutritional counseling. Specializing in diet and lifestyle consultations, weight loss guidance, diet planning and related services. Prudence had previously worked on the farm for many years. She had become a specialist in the flower field and was the farmstand manager. Simon, after high school went to culinary school in New Hampshire and then to small business school at the University of Montana. Simon has become Chief of Operations for the farm. Simon married Robyn in April of 2011 they recently had their first child a daughter named Rose. They live on the farm in West Tisbury which has been in the Athearn family since the 1800’s. Robyn is the cut flower manager at Morning Glory Farm overseeing the cultivation of 2 acres of annual flowers and a half-acre perennial field. Daniel returned to the Vineyard and Morning Glory Farm after receiving a degree in aquaculture from The University of Maine. Daniel quickly became indispensable on the farm as a skilled machine operator, and the irrigation specialist although he spends many hours in the tractor seat working the soil and tending the crops, he still maintains his presence on the water in both commercial and recreational fishing. Meeghan Athearn, Daniel's wife, works at the farm farmer’s market and in the farm stand. Dan and Meeghan have three young children a daughter Clara, a son Zeb and a daughter Penelope Louise, they live on family land in Chilmark where the MGF Cattle graze in water view pastures.
The extended farm family is a large one, not only have many Athearn relatives have been part of the farm in different ways, but also many employees over the years have brought in their sisters, mothers, daughters, sons, mother’s in law, etc.
Each year we meet a new crew of farmers, bakers, growers, and farmstand staff that become part of the farm family. The farm has benefited from a variety of wonderful people who have endowed Morning Glory with their own special contributions. With the younger generation involved there is the expectation that the farm will continue to provide quality fruits and vegetables to the community and provide people with meaningful employment and memorable island experience.