The Martha's Vineyard Agricultural Society was established in 1859. It promotes the pursuit of agriculture, horticulture, land conservation, youth activities, merchanic and domestic arts and encourages the raising and improving of plant and animal stock and the sale of island-grown produce and flowers at local farmers' markets.
We have reconstructed a 100-year old post and beam barn. The barn traveled to Martha's Vineyard piece by piece from New Hampshire to be the new, more spacious home of the Martha's Vineyard Agricultural Society (MVAS) and its renown annual Fair. The barn, along with a year-round meeting hall addition, cattle shed, animal barn, state-of-the-art horse rink and accessory buildings alongside a hay field on a 21-acre site at the Panhandle in West Tisbury.
It was Vineyarders from all walks of life who insisted on a traditional wooden structure and rallied behind the barn. It was a hearty band of 50 or so Barn Buster volunteers who braved a week in the northern New Hampshire chill to painstakingly disassemble the barn and transport its nearly perfect frame back on Vineyard trucks. And it was Vineyarders who helped raise raised over $300,000 in cash, and countless hours of volunteer services and labor, from people in the community. That put this project over the top.
I'm Glenn Hearn, one of the trustees of the Martha's Vineyard Agricultural Society.
I'm standing out behind the new Ag Hall. The Agricultural Society was founded in 1858, and the old Ag Hall was built in 1859. One of the things that we feel about this new project is that, back in those days, a small group of people got a chance to build the old Ag Hall, which then got utilized by the community members of the Agrictural Society for 136 years. And now we have the opportunity to do the same thing again.
We went to New Hampshire and took down this barn that was built in 1905. Then we trucked it to the Island. It was taken down by a group of 45 volunteers, which we nick-named The Barn Busters. Once it got to the island and we got through the approvals of building the project, the entire community of year-rounders as well as off-island people got behind the project, and we buit this new barn which we hope will be used by the community for another 150 years.
The goals of the Agricultural Society are to promote agriculture, floraculture (growing flowers), and horticulture. Our main activity is the August Fair. But now that we have this wonderful new facility, we hope that it will be used more and more by the community for many other functions---trade shows, artisan's fairs, weddings, and all sorts of general meetings throughout the year.
I've been a member of the Agricultural Society for many years. I'm not a native --- my parents moved here when I was three years old, but my wife is a native. We grew up here, we went to the fair, we spent summers here, and our children spent summers here, and we always enjoyed the fair.
Three years ago, I moved back to the island. I made the mistake of going to New Hampshire with the Barn Busters. You know, it really wasn't a mistake --- it was a wonderful experience. It got me interested in helping the Society plan and build the project. I became active. Last year, I was made a trustee, and worked on the project as the Clerk of the Works. I also volunteered to be the Chairman of the Fundraiser, and through that we raised a lot of funds.
During this fair-grounds construction project, the membership has grown from 350 to over 1000 members. So now we have many, many people throughout the community becoming more active in the society. With the new fair grounds and the new building, we will be seeing a lot more activities. The society plans to not only have meetings and functions, but also the support --- educational seminars and concerns, both in the building and out on the fair grounds.
When the Society gets to the point that it has built and paid for all of the facilities, we hope to be in a position to help promote agricultural preservation by creating restrictions on land. We encourage people and financially help to buy development rights, to preserve the agricultural heritage of Martha's Vineyard, and to preserve people in the farming community. They need help getting started.
The new Ag Hall was the result of a huge community effort spearheaded by Andy Woodruff and myself. It was Andy who taped the barn in New Hampshire and lobbied the powers at the Ag Society, and me who designed and built the new hall. With a core crew of five ace carpenters and magnificent community volunteer assistance we finished the barn on time for the annual ag fair. We had an uphill fight to get the society and local building authorities to sanction a wooden building - but in the end everyone is happy and the hall is a great success.
I salvage and restore old post and beam barns for a living. Typically, someone will call and tell me of an old barn that is very nicely constructed and about to become landfill material. I'll go out and see it and if it has life left in it; if so, I'll buy it, take it down, store it, and finally construct a new house or barn out of it here on the island.
I'm a television producer and film-maker. I'm soon to become a full-time resident.
We got a call from Woody, who was spearheading this project with Rick Anderson. He was interested in finding someone to videotape the Barn Busting in New Hampshire. He had called for some professional photographers, found out what they cost, and I told him about Chris Mara, who is an islander and videographer. Chris agreed to go up to New Hampshire and video tape the busting for free.
When he got back, we put together a short video for the fair. This was the fair in 1994. It was about 5-10 minutes. Then, the following year, we videotaped the barn raising and put together a 20-30 minute video that incorporated both the taking-down and the raising of the barn.
I grew up in New York, but I've been coming here for summers my whole live. I've lived here as a part-time full-timer for the last few years, commuting to Boston during the week, and returning for weekends. Now I'm trying to start a small production company on the island.
People can buy copies of the video. They should contact the Agricultural Society.
I went to New Hampshire and videotaped the dismantling. and I videotaped the assembly.
Kate Fieffer and Chris Alley called me up. I went to the meeting at Rick Anderson's house. I had been sympathetic to the Agricultural Society Members --- namely Arnie Fischer. They knew what they were doing. They knew how to do this. They were waiting for the final go-ahead.
I taped some of the meeting. I talked with the Cable Company. They loaned me the use of the camera and we took it up to Woodsville New Hampshire. I spent four days there, courtesy of the Ag Society. And videoed most of the disassembly. They had to take the last few bits down with a crane. It took a few extra days. I did some videoing of the plot plan, the foundation, then came here the day of the barn raising --- Taped 200 people putting the barn up. they put it up in a day.
The very first day of the disassembly, there were 7 people there to do it. I was feeling a little disheartened. It was snowing, sleeting. I thought, "they are not going to get this thing down." By the end of the day, there were about 20 people there. By the end of the second day, there were 40.
When I first saw the barn, I thought, "they can' t get this thing down." It's going to take major work, it's going to take a few week. But Rick Anderson knew how to take a barn down. He said, "you peel the skin back, and you pop out the bones." And that's what we did.
It was hazardous work the first few days, especially with the tin roof and the sleet. Initially, I think that they expected to have more people there. But the weather was so bad. Soon it became infectious. It was taking place up there while there were people down here. More people than they could coordinate. Six months later, when they went to put the thing up, they had over 200 people here the first day. I was so surprised.
It was spring on the island, but it was still winter in New Hampshire. One of the problems that they ran into was the roads up there have forest restrictions for heavy-duty truck travel. The police showed up one day, the local police chief, who doubled as a local newspaper editor, and said "there's a problem with trucks here, and we care about heavy machinery on the roads." I think that something was finally worked out, where we went in once with the trucks.
Another thing --- a lot of the locals would come by, watch it. There was a constant stream of people coming down to watch the flat landers take down this barn. Every day there was a few dozen people just standing around and watching the thing.
Probably what impressed me most was the enthusiasm of the people. They showed up there to take this thing down. They were exhausted at the end of the day.