The FARM Institute is an educational non-profit institution committed to connecting people of all ages and all circumstances to agriculture through the diverse operations of a working farm.
TFI provides year-round educational programs offering learning experiences in:
Land preservation & environmental stewardship
Accepting individual responsibility & meeting commitments
Team work & cooperation
Farming (field crops, produce, fruit, hay)
Humane livestock management (cattle, poultry, swine, sheep, goats)
The culture & history of Martha’s Vineyard farming
• Early island maps show fences bordering the land, indicating early agricultural use of the property.
• In the 1920s the property is subdivided into a series of building lots, but no houses are ever built.
• Arthur Hillman buys the property for $5000 during the 1930s and grazes sheep in the northern fields.
• The Horsebarn is being constructed when the 1938 hurricane blows through. As the barn is only framed, it is the one building in Katama to survive the storm.
• Elisha Smith buys the property in 1943 which combined with another parcel completes the tract of land that is currently Katama Farm.
• Mr. Smith brings six dairy cows and farms the fields for corn, potatoes, rye, oats and hay with great success. Mr. Smith also starts a dairy collaborative which peaks at over 30 island members.
• In 1964, Mr. Smith sells the farm. It eventually becomes the property of the Strock family.
• The Strock family, through Strock Enterprises, draws up plans to divide the property into 700 buildable lots, but goes bankrupt in 1977. Katama Farm becomes the property of a Boston bank.
• From a collaborative fundraising and conservation effort between the newly formed “Committee to Do Something”, the Open Land Foundation, the Vineyard Consevation Society, the Edgartown Conservation Commission, local Katama neighbors and town and state offices, Katama Farm is purchased by the town and the Edgartown Conservation Commission becomes the landlord of Katama Farm.
• Stephen Potter is the first tenant. Raising a herd of Holsteins, Mr. Potter opens and operates Seaside Dairy.
• The dairy bottles up to 1.5 million pounds of milk per year and sells at local grocery stores.
• Mounting debt forces the closure of Seaside Dairy and two subsequent dairy farmers are also unsuccessful.
• Katama Farm remains vacant and falls into disrepair.
• The FARM Institute (TFI), founded in 2000, moves from Herring Creek Farm to Katama Farm and begins restoration of the buildings, grounds, fields and equipment.
• With the proceeds from the sale of Herring Creek Farm, TFI builds the new classroom building in 2005 and restores both barns to habitable conditions.
• In 2009, TFI builds two new greenhouses with the help of a grant from the 1772 Foundation.
• Renovations continue in both the Horsebarn and Cowbarn with the support of the Conservation Preservation Act and community support.
• The FARM Institute raises pastured poultry, pork, beef cattle, sheep, hay and mixed produce with the helping hands of over 2500 local and visiting children each year.