Paying the farm forward

Master gardener Paul Jackson. —Eli Dagostino

One of the most anticipated summer events on the Island is the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society’s annual fair in August. On opening day, the Grand Hall is filled with homemade baked goods, crafts, art, quilts, jams, jellies, flower arrangements, and gorgeous locally grown vegetables from farms around the Island. As you look around, it is hard to miss some of the most gorgeous healthy, often oversized, vegetables flanked in blue ribbons. Flipping the tag, more often than not you would see that the farmer’s name was Paul Jackson.

Jackson was a backyard farmer who created an oasis on his property in the Boulevard area of Edgartown. He knew it was all about the soil, and spent years amending his soil with such things as scallop water, which resulted in growing some of the most incredible vegetables and fruit anywhere. To say he was a gifted farmer is an understatement; he was an Island icon.

Paul Jackson passed away a year ago in April and he left a surprising legacy. To be sure his property remained a farm property, he willed his one-acre farm to the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society with the intent that it would be used for farming.

“The MVAS is so honored and touched by Mr. Jackson’s gift. He is an Island legend and his farming practices have inspired many a backyard farmer. This gift not only supports our agricultural mission but enables us to provide housing for our local farmers. It is the gift that keeps on giving,” says Lauren Lynch, executive director of the M.V. Agricultural Society.