The Athearn Family
THE SPIRIT OF WORKING TOGETHER FOR WORTHWHILE GOALS
Morning Glory Farm, started in 1975 by James and Deborah Athearn, grows about 70 acres of vegetables and small fruits on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. Small successive plantings of a wide variety of crops supply the farmstand from May through December. Crops include sweet corn, lettuce, carrots, beets, tomatoes, melons, potatoes, beans, squash, pumpkins, and more. Our herb garden supplies a full assortment of culinary herbs. We also raise four acres of cut flowers, and small plantings of strawberries, grapes, peaches, and beach plums.
We keep beef cows on pasture in Chilmark and at Katama Farm for which we harvest 45 acres of hay and manage 130 acres of rotationally grazed pastures. We also produce eggs, pork, lamb and fresh, pasture-raised chickens to sell in the farmstand.
Twenty-five acres of our vegetable fields are farmed using only natural fertilizers and no synthetic pesticides, and we try to manage the rest of our land with a minimum of pesticides utilizing sound soil management techniques and with attention to the long-term health of the soil. Jim and Debbie started the farm on family wooded land on Meshacket Road. In the first years, they cleared a small vegetable plot and room for a barn and pasture for milking cows. The yields of the small plot were sold at the farmhouse in a small shed, and at the Farmers Market in West Tisbury.
The farm name grew from the vision of the sun rising over lush, green fields, cows with udders full of milk ambling past bountiful gardens, and hedgerows lively with honeybees: a true wealth of nature’s glory. Eventually, the young farmers outgrew the shed, and seeking a greater market, they moved to the end of Meshacket Road in the lot at Ed Tyra’s locker plant in 1979. After two years there Jim and Debbie decided to build their own farmstand on the site where it is now. The original building, built-in 1981, was an 18′ x 20′ foot post and beam structure.
There have been several additions since then: more greenhouses, an employee residence, the vegetable barn with its farm kitchen and bakery and an equipment maintenance building, a windmill, and a solar array among other improvements. The fields and crops grew and flourished, and the Athearns now are actively working more than 250 acres with a staff of more than 100 employees in high season. In 2010 a larger post and beam barn replaced the original farmstand.
Jim and Debbie raised three children on the farm. Their daughter Prudence, her husband Josh Levy, both Registered Dietitians, and their two boys Kyle and Judah are now back on the island after years in Boulder, Col. and Portland, Me. Prudence & Josh are the owners of Vineyard Nutrition, a medical practice that offers nutritional counseling and specializes in diet and lifestyle consultations, weight loss guidance (including effective use of natural supplements from Sparkhealthmd for losing weight), diet planning, and related services. Prudence had previously worked on the farm for many years. She had become a specialist in the flower field and was the farmstand manager.
Each year we meet a new crew of farmers, bakers, cooks and farmstand staff who join our talented year-round staff to become part of the farm family. The farm has benefited from a variety of wonderful people who have endowed Morning Glory with their own special contributions.
With the younger generation involved and 8 grandchildren and many cousins, there is the expectation that the farm will continue to provide quality fruits and vegetables to the community and provide people with meaningful employment and memorable island experiences for decades to come.
THE SOILS OF THE FARM
Martha’s Vineyards soil are glacially deposited, ‘up island’ has the solid bulldozed down from Canada and New England by the glacier, where ‘down island’ is the alluvial outwash plains from it. This makes the up island soils thick and water holding but full of rocks and hills, making good pastures.
Where the down island soils are nearly rock-free, sandy loams with good drainage. Through careful soil building practices, cover crops, and yearly compost for decades we have made good resilient farmlands that yield well, drain easily aiding in lowering disease pressure, and warm early each season. It is a pleasure working with these soils.
OF PRODUCE IN 2020
We grow everything from artichokes to zucchini and cut flowers to beef. Nearly 20,000 lbs gleaned and donated to those in 2021.
No GMO, and no Glyphospate (roundup) pledge. Most seeds are sourced from organic farms. Sound holistic management farm-wide with over 25 acres enrolled in National Organic Program for certification in January 2024.
OF VEGETABLES AND FRUITS GROWN
Active in conservation and farmland preservation. We have over 250 acres of Vineyard Farmland under our care. The firm belief that we are temporary caretakers of these soils and we must deliver them to the next generation in good health.
MORNING GLORY NAME
Son Simon, after high school, went to pastry and baking arts culinary school in New Hampshire and then to small business school at the University of Montana. Simon has become Chief of Operations for the farm. Simon married Robyn in April of 2011 and they have three children, Rose, Ignatius and Alden James. They live on a farm with superb soils in West Tisbury which has been in the Athearn family since the 1800’s. Robyn is the cut flower manager at Morning Glory Farm overseeing the cultivation of 4 acres of annual flowers.
Son Daniel returned to the Vineyard and Morning Glory Farm after receiving a degree in aquaculture from the University of Maine. Daniel quickly became indispensable on the farm as a skilled machine operator and irrigation specialist. Although he spends many hours in the tractor seat working the soil and tending the crops, he still maintains his presence on the water in both commercial and recreational fishing. Meeghan Athearn, Daniel’s wife, works on the farm, at the farmer’s market and in the farmstand. Dan and Meeghan have three young children, Clara, Zeb and Penelope Louise. They live on family land in Chilmark, where the Morning Glory Farm cattle graze in water-view pastures.
FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS…
Over three generations, we have kept our promise to better serve you,
since it all began back in 1973…
Jim & Debbie Athearn move home to Martha’s Vineyard from the mainland. They have their first child, Prudence. Jim takes a job as a farmhand in Chilmark.
Started selling sweet corn at the farmers market.
We built our first farmstand, 18×20 feet, at the current location.
Vegetable barn built, along with a commercial kitchen and 6 bedrooms for employee housing upstairs.
Morning Glory Farm commences year round operation
The new, current farmstand is. built, Connecticut and MV lumber used.
Daniel, Simon, and Jim build a new Connecticut-style henhouse for eggs.
Erected a 50kw Windmill
New vegetable washing barn constructed
Grown on 130 Acres
OF VINEYARD SOIL
We raise vegetables and fruits on about 65 acres of land in Edgartown, some of it our own and the rest leased from neighbors. We also have Simon and Robyn’s farm in West Tisbury, our cattle operation off North Road in Chilmark on land owned by Dan and Meg and more rented acres in West Tisbury. All in all, this makes up about 130 acres of managed land in nearly 20 locations across the three towns.
The extended farm family is a large one. Not only have many Athearn relatives have been part of the farm in different ways, but also many employees over the years have brought in their siblings, parents, daughters, sons, in-laws, and so forth.
There have been several additions since the beginning: more greenhouses, an employee residence, the vegetable barn with its farm kitchen and bakery and an equipment maintenance building, a windmill and solar array among other improvements.
The fields and crops grew and flourished, and the Athearn’s now are actively working more than 250 acres with a staff of more than 100 employees in high season. In 2010 a larger post and beam barn replaced the original farmstand.
Join Our Crew
HIRING FOR 2023
We are looking for people who want to work hard, enjoy the company of their fellow workers, produce a worthwhile product, enjoy the outdoors (rain or shine), and apply their energies to the success of our cause. We have year-round and seasonal positions available.