Shades of Winter Green


Where to get your lettuces, herbs, and more on Martha’s Vineyard.

With so little snow this winter, the outdoors may look drab, but inside Vineyard greenhouses there’s plenty of color, with all the greens of spinach, kale, Swiss chard, mustard greens, baby lettuces, arugula, mizuna, microgreens, and more.

Farmers and greenhouse managers are increasingly growing greens during winter months on Martha’s Vineyard. This is good news for the home cook. These locally grown greens stay fresh and retain their nutrients longer because they don’t have the carbon-filled miles behind them that those imported from California, Florida, andMexico do. And they have flavor, often absent from bland boxed or bagged varieties.

I cooked for an Oak Bluffs client last week, and what she raved about most were the two salads I made. No surprise — the lettuces were fresh that day from Morning Glory. Now open throughout the winter, Morning Glory is growing an array of greens including baby mizuna (a type of Asian green) and baby kale — each tender and tasty. There’s a new purplish baby mustard green that lacks the typical burning bite of adult mustard greens. They also have a baby lettuce mix, beautiful arugula, and baby spinach, in addition to their regular-sized curly green kale.

Because they’re grown in greenhouses, the availability of specific greens varies, says Field Crew Manager Ryan Hassell at Morning Glory farm. That one-day Arctic freeze not long ago did some real damage, he said. 

Over at Ghost Island Farm, farmer Rusty Gordon is growing kale, Swiss chard, mustard greens, and spinach in his greenhouses during the winter. The farmstand on State Road in West Tisbury opens daily. As a kale lover, I buy all my Italian or red Russian kale at Ghost Island, because no one grows kale like Rusty. His kale is often more tender than supermarket kale, which can be tough, and it comes in several varieties to try.

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Up at Beetlebung Farm in Chilmark, winter greenhouse offerings include a “Party Mix” of baby lettuce greens — always vibrant. Washed and bagged, these lettuces can go directly into the salad bowl. Beetlebung also has a noteworthy sweet carrot variety available this time of the year, as well as Asian greens. 

And that’s not all that’s growing and produced on the Island over the long winter months: Check out the farmstands at Blackwater Farm on Lambert’s Cove Road, North Tabor Farm near Menemsha, Grey Barn Farm and Dairy in Chilmark, and Mermaid Farm on Middle Road in Chilmark. Island Grown Initiative is growing indoors and operates a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) plan. They also sell produce at the down-Island Cronig’s Market, as do other farms. Not all of them have greens in the dead of winter, but they offer other items  — yogurt, cheeses, bread — that will enhance  your seasonal cooking. 

And let’s not forget the non-profit, community-operated Greenhouse in Oak Bluffs. For years now, during the winters, the Greenhouse has been producing lettuces, greens, and herbs such as  thyme, parsley, rosemary and cilantro. Members pay a low yearly rate to join and then can do their own picking at any time. It’s worth a visit.

Check what’s being offered currently on farms’ social media pages. It does change; it’s the nature of farming locally.

My bottom-line recommendation: Vary your supermarket routines and head to some of these farms. Your palate will be happier; your health better. 

Martha’s Vineyard farms open in winter 

  • Morning Glory Farm (farmstand) Edgartown: Spinach, kale, baby lettuces, arugula, mizuna
  • Ghost Island Farm (farmstand) State Road, West Tisbury: Spinach, Swiss chard, kale, mustard greens
  • Beetlebung Farm (farmstand) South Road, Chilmark: Party mix, carrots, spinach, noble jade
  • The Greenhouse (solar greenhouse) New York Avenue, Oak Bluffs: Herbs, greens, and Community effort
  • North Tabor Farm (farmstand) North Road, Chilmark: Collard Greens, as well as farm and market products
  • Cronig’s Market (supermarket) State Road; West Tisbury, Tisbury: Local produce from IGI, North Tabor Farm, Orange Peel Bakery, Chilmark Coffee Co., and more

No Greens, but lots of winter goodies

  • Mermaid Farm (self-serve farmstand) Middle Road, Chilmark: Their own yogurt, cheese, and lassis (a yogurt drink and Island favorite)
    Find them on Facebook
  • Blackwater Farm (self-serve farmstand) Lambert’s Cove Road, West Tisbury: Farm meat, eggs, and produce in season
    Find them on Facebook
  • Grey Barn Farm and Dairy (farmstand) South Road, Chilmark: Farm meat, dairy, cheese, and bread

Bluedot Living contributing editor Catherine Walthers is the author of several cookbooks, including Kale, Glorious Kale. Check Bunch of Grapes, or find it online at Amazon. 

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Catherine Walthers
Catherine Walthers
Catherine Walthers, Bluedot’s food editor, is a Martha’s Vineyard-based writer, culinary instructor, and private chef. A former journalist, she is the author of 4 cookbooks, including Kale, Glorious Kale, Soups + Sides, and Raising the Salad Bar. She wrote an environmental guidebook called A Greener Boston published by Chronicle Books in 1992. Follow her on Instagram @catherine_walthers.
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