Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Along Old County Road in West Tisbury lies Nat’s Farm, a 56-acre expanse of field, meadow, oak woods and pasture. Nat’s Farm is an excellent example of how two conservation groups – in this case Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation and the Vineyard Open Land Foundation – can work together to achieve an important goal. It also shows how much time and effort it takes to complete a major conservation gift.
Leona Baumgartner Langmuir and her husband Alexander owned more than 100 acres of woods and farmland on Old County Road. Under local zoning this could have become more than 100 house lots. Instead, the Langmuirs decided that they wanted to conserve key features of the landscape, while at the same time realizing income and providing for their family. In 1972, they approached the Vineyard Open Land Foundation (VOLF) for help and advice.
Over the next decade VOLF worked with the Langmuirs to create a limited development plan. Under this plan there would be only 27 house lots and 56 acres of beautiful open space. VOLF drew up the plan, wrote protective covenants governing the entire subdivision, prepared a conservation restriction, and obtained all the necessary permits and approvals from the town of West Tisbury, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Since VOLF does not ordinarily manage land, in 1989 and 1990 the Langmuirs donated their 56 acres of open space to Sheriff’s Meadow to manage in perpetuity. Nat’s Farm is actually one of many instances where conservation groups have cooperated to conserve the Vineyard landscape. In fact, over 400 acres of conservation land have been donated to Sheriff’s Meadow by landowners who first worked closely with VOLF or the Vineyard Conservation Society to achieve their conservation objectives, and then entrusted the perpetual care of the land to Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation.
At the time of the Langmuirs’ gift, the southern half was leased as pasture land to a riding stable, and the northern half was leased by a farmer who grew hay, alfalfa and corn for this cattle. A strip along Old County Road was still in oak woods and native grassland. This grassland supported an interesting array of native plants, including several species of orchids.
Half of the northern half of Nat’s Farm is leased to Mermaid Farm. Much of the southern half of Nat’s Farm is leased to the Martha’s Vineyard Horse Center for use as horse pasture. Nat’s Farm is one of a number of Sheriff’s Meadow properties that are blessed with prime agricultural soils.
The public is invited to enjoy Nat’s Farm on a walking, bicycling and equestrian trail that loops around the entire north pasture. Beginning at the trailhead on Old County Road, the trail also provides a good link to the paved bicycle paths of the abutting State Forest.
Located off Old County Road, approximately ½ mile north of Scotchman’s Bridge Lane and ½ mile south of the West Tisbury School. Walking and equestrian trails around the perimeter of the restoration area are open to the public. Public parking is on the east side of Old County Road.