Hours: Dawn to Dusk
The namesake property of Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation was indeed a meadow belonging to a sheriff. In the 1850’s, this land was a meadow and the property of Sheriff Isaiah Pease, and hence known as the Sheriff’s Meadow. The name held, and a hundred years later Sheriff’s Meadow had the benefit of having as its neighbors Henry Beetle Hough and Elizabeth Bowie Hough. In 1958, Henry Hough had just sold the magazine rights to his latest book, Once More the Thunderer. The Houghs used those funds to buy the 10 acres that included Sheriff’s Meadow and protected the meadow, the ice house pond, and John Butler’s Mudhole from development. Because no conservation organization would accept a gift of land of this small size, the Houghs created Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation and gave the Sheriff’s Meadow to it.
In 1959, Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation was chartered, and Sheriff’s Meadow Sanctuary was its first property. Over the years, gifts from several neighbors, including Morton and Mary S. Fearey, Alida Carey Gulick, Marion M. Angevin and Edith G. Blake Hough helped expand the Sanctuary to almost 20 acres.
Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation is a microcosm of the triumphs and challenges associated with conservation on Martha’s Vineyard. Despite its relatively small size and proximity to town, the Sanctuary supports a variety of natural communities and hosts some rare and unusual plants and animals. The Sanctuary also hosts a variety of invasive plants, including bittersweet, honeysuckle and multiflora rose, and some are crowding out native species. Sheriff’s Meadow is in the final stages of a three-year plan designed to remove the invasive plants and restore the meadows of the Sanctuary.
The public is welcome and invited to enjoy Sheriff’s Meadow Sanctuary by walking along the Ruth and Ed Brooks Trail. The Brooks Trail offers sweeping scenic views of Eel Pond and Nantucket Sound, not to mention attractive interior views of the Sheriff’s Meadow pond, John Butler’s Mudhole and the surrounding environment. The Brooks Trail is also notable for its olfactory pleasures, especially in the spring. One’s nose is treated to one fragrance after another; some foreshadowing what awaits on the trail, as the aroma arrives before the view.
Approaching downtown Edgartown on Main Street, turn left onto Pease’s Point Way. Continue straight onto Planting Field Way. Proceed 0.2 mile to the kiosk on the right.