From farm to table
Yes, it’s possible to have a wedding meal featuring the freshest Island-grown food available, even if you don’t own Morning Glory Farm or an abundant home garden. Dozens of Vineyard farmers and fishermen do the daily dirty work so we don’t have to, and they’re well worth supporting. Here are some suggestions to get started.
MEAT, EGGS, DAIRY
Many Island farms are raising animals for meat, eggs, and milk these days. If you’re inclined to serve grass-fed beef or lamb; pasture-raised pork, chicken, or turkey; mother-raised veal; raw milk; or free-range chicken eggs, you’ll find them here on Martha’s Vineyard. More than fifteen farms offer Island-raised meat, from Chilmark’s Native Earth Teaching Farm to Edgartown’s FARM Institute, with freezers stocked for year-round availability. Island eggs are sold at roadside stands, farmer’s markets, and grocery stores, including Cronig’s Markets in Vineyard Haven and West Tisbury. A comprehensive list of Island farms and their wares can be found through the Island Grown Initiative (www.islandgrown.org; click on the farm map). The West Tisbury Farmer’s Market is another good resource (www.westtisburyfarmersmarket.com). Only two farms sell Island milk right now, both in Chilmark: Mermaid Farm and Dairy offers raw cows milk, along with lamb, beef, and vegetables; and the Grey Barn and Farm sells milk and cream, along with beef, pork, veal, eggs, and soon to come, cheese.
For years, formal floral arrangements of impressive exotics were de rigueur at weddings but the current trend toward casual, playful, and theme-oriented events has carried over into wedding flowers. An abundance of spring and summer flowers thrive in the Island climate, while sunflowers make stunning late-season displays and evergreens such as holly and pine boughs, entwined with tiny sparkling lights, make a dramatic winter presentation. It’s easy to find people who grow flowers for sale at the farmer’s markets, but a few Island growers make weddings a specialty. Rebecca Miller of North Tabor Farm in Chilmark tends toward a casual, outdoorsy, up-Island look, creatively mixing fresh flowers with grasses, seed pods, and foliage. Krishana Collins of Bluebird Farm in West Tisbury encourages brides to be to walk through her fields, where she grows hundreds of varieties of flowers each year. Joanne and Kenneth DeBettencourt of Oak Bluffs have fields full of colorful zinnias and cosmos. As a justice of the peace, Ken has even presided over a wedding in the midst of his flower gardens.
Baskets of baby bok choy, sugar snap peas, crunchy cucumbers, shiny dark zucchini, heirloom tomatoes, and piles of glorious salad greens: The glacial outwash plains and moraine that make up Martha’s Vineyard provide fertile land, as evidenced by the productivity of the Island’s four dozen or so working farms. If you’re looking for a mostly local approach to your wedding menu, you’ve certainly come to the right place. Start your search at the Island Grown Initiative’s map of farms (www.islandgrown.org). Then check out the Island’s three farmer’s markets in West Tisbury, Vineyard Haven, and Edgartown. Morning Glory Farm in Edgartown, the Island’s largest farm stand, is another good place to explore. Find a caterer who’s willing to be flexible and creative in working with produce that’s in season at the time of your ceremony. Many Island chefs and caterers will design a menu highlighting food that’s Island-grown, harvested, and even foraged, featuring such mouthwatering dishes as curried asparagus soup, sesame broccoli salad, corn pudding soufflé, and heirloom tomato tart.
The bounty in nearby waters is a great way to bring the sea to your celebration. The Island’s bay scallops are renowned for their sweet taste and delicate texture, and fresh, briny oysters are a classic romance food found in abundance here. Creamy New England–style clam chowder, chock-full of minced clams and chunky potatoes, is always a crowd pleaser, especially for cooler evening events. Several Island oyster farming operations offer direct sales, including Sweet Neck Farm, Split Rock Oysters, and Signature Oyster Farm. For do-it-yourselfers, you can go fishing as well as collect your own shellfish, such as mussels, soft-shell clams, quahaugs, and crabs – and it could be a fun group activity too. (For more on harvesting shellfish on Martha’s Vineyard, see our July 2010 article at www.mvmagazine.com/article.php?25970.) All the Island’s retail fish markets stock seafood from Vineyard waters in season. A clambake rehearsal dinner, an array of seafood appetizers, fresh fish at the reception – all offer great opportunities to bring a little Atlantic Ocean flavor to your wedding.
Whether you want to send your wedding guests home with a pretty little reminder of their Vineyard visit, put together welcome baskets, or find a special bridal party present, there are several spots that offer a wide range of distinctive Island-grown options. The Vineyard Artisans Festivals are held in West Tisbury twice-weekly all summer and on holiday weekends in the off-season. The West Tisbury Farmer’s Market (along with smaller markets in Edgartown and Vineyard Haven) offers handmade items, such as paper books and cards by Seastone Papers and lavender sachets by Andrea Rogers. If you’re putting together a gourmet gift basket, the West Tisbury Farmer’s Market has Kitchen Porch spice mixes and sauces, New Lane Sundries jams and jellies, Beth Kramer’s cream-cheese rugelach and tasty scones, and many more perishable and non-perishable goods. Island products for bath and body include Flat Point Farm’s gentle goat milk soap and Skye Botanicals soothing rose petal cream. You might buy some extra for yourself to help calm any pre-wedding jitters, and take comfort that your gift shopping is done!
[Originally published in the 2012 issue of Martha's Vineyard Magazine's Island Weddings.]