Susan Ciatto

More Than Great Coffee: Martha's Vineyard Coffee


Todd Christy, owner/roaster at Chilmark Coffee, is a relationship guy. When people ask Chilmark Coffee to cater an event, they ask for him. Sure he's a great barista, but it's more than that. After three hours down a dusty Chilmark road listening to him talk coffee and life and international trade, I was snared. I had become a loyal member of the Chilmark Coffee community.

Assuming you have less than a few hours to spare, let me summarize what's brewing in a cup of what Christy calls "Relationship Coffee."

1. Beyond Fair Trade, Direct Trade

Buying organic coffee means that certain precautions have been taken in the growing of the beans, but it doesn't mean that the growers and pickers have been paid fairly by importers. In fact, Christy tells me, almost all coffee is grown on the same micro-plantations--small, family-owned farms across the globe. Large multinational companies that import the beans deal directly with the farmers, and roasters like Christy typically work with the importers to select stock. That's why Christy takes steps to work with "direct trade" coffee importers like Gold Mountain Coffee Growers that put him in direct contact with the farmers growing his beans. With partners like Gold Mountain, Christy can guarantee that his coffee is tasty, environmentally responsible, and ethical.

2. Local Coffee, Local Causes

"I don't have a lot of money to donate," Christy tells me, "but I have coffee." You'll find Chilmark Coffee, and usually Christy himself, at fundraising events across the island. Like most small businesses on Martha's Vineyard, Chilmark Coffee takes every opportunity to give back to the community--often just by doing what they do best. Christy feels lucky to call Martha's Vineyard home. He feels lucky to be able to operate his business here, and is grateful to the Island community that helps his business and his family to thrive.

3. It's a family affair

Christy and his wife Jenny launched this business together and have grown it, and their three children, together down that dusty Chilmark road. Now their oldest son has started to learn the art of the barista and and can be found at events side by side with his father. Their property abuts the home where  Jenny grew up, so the scent of freshly roasting coffee provides a backdrop for events, birthday parties, and afternoons playing in the sun with friends and family.

Although the relationships to grower, community, and family are central to Chilmark Coffee, it is Christy relationship with the coffee you taste when you sip a cup of Chilmark brew. The care he takes to perfect the roast, to source beans from distant families just like his, and to share it with friends and neighbors makes all the difference.. A sip of Chilmark Coffee and you become part of the extended community of grower, roaster, brewer, and consumer. 

For Christy, the conversation flows as easy as the coffee. But for now, it's time to savor our cortados (espresso with a drop of foamed milk) in silence.  "Not my best work," he says, indicating the delicately expanding heart design he's created in my cup.  Looks pretty good to me. Tastes even better.

Becoming Stella B

She always took photos, although rarely of herself. Perhaps it was the Vitiligo--a pigmentation disorder that results in light-colored patches on her feet, hands, and neck--that discouraged her. Maybe it just takes time to grow into the confident, resilient woman she is today. Whatever the reason, Jennifer Lyn, the face behind the camera at Stella B Photography, has grown a period of self-reflection into a blossoming business.

Lyn has always loved photos,  but she only started photographing regularly a few years ago. "It was my therapy," she says, during a particularly dark period in her life. She found her relationship with her boyfriend imploding while she faced health issues that went much deeper than her skin. Going out with her camera gave her time to reflect, relax, and put her life in focus. Although she photographed her surroundings--the beautiful Martha's Vineyard landscape--she found that she began to see herself more clearly and feel more comfortable in her own ("blotchy")  skin.

As their relationship was falling apart, Lyn and her boyfriend had adopted a a sweet little bulldog mix puppy. As she grew, the pup became Lyn's protectress, her friend, and companion. The puppy was happy to see her. The puppy needed her. That puppy showed her unfettered love and devotion and a happiness, Lyn realized, she could not have in her troubled relationship with her boyfriend. One day, Lyn looked at the pup and said "We're leaving." She packed up and took the puppy with her. 

In the four years since that breakup, Lyn and her dog have built a new life together. Lyn took photography courses and has connected with friends and photographers on Martha's Vineyard who support her creatively, professionally and personally. Photography, allows her to put her life in perspective, even when the camera is focused on someone else. Portraiture and children are her specialty; she loves their spontaneity and freedom. Beside her all the way is that little pup that Lyn credits with changing her life. That special pup's name? Stella B, of course. 

Find Stella B Photography at the Chilmark Flea Market in the Tisbury Turkey booth at the Featherstone Flea. is the only place to find Stella B photo products online. Stella B products are also featured in our Summer 2015 Goodbox, shipped June 15 and available this summer at the Featherstone Flea.

Follow us on social media for the latest Martha's Vineyard artisan news!

Sea Glass Primer


Sure, you've collected it your whole life, but how much do you really know about sea glass?  

1.) Sea Glass and Beach Glass Are Not the Same Thing

A gorgeous handmade ring by Leslie Freeman, made with sea glass from the oceans of Martha's Vineyard.

A gorgeous handmade ring by Leslie Freeman, made with sea glass from the oceans of Martha's Vineyard.

While many people use the terms "beach glass" and "sea glass" interchangeably, the experts differentiate: "sea glass" refers to that glass which has been battered by the sea. "Beach glass" refers to that collected from freshwater bodies, which lacks the frosted patina of sea glass. While both types are worn by water, rocks, and currents, the salt in seawater slowly dissolves the glass, leaving the whitened effect seaside collectors know well. (Learn more.)

2.) All Sea Glass Is Litter

In days gone by, sea glass was called "Mermaid's Tears"--believed to be shed for fallen sailors--but actually, sea glass is formed from household and industrial waste (glass bottles, housewares, and the like). While some sea glass may descend from sunken pirate ships and shipwrecks, most sea glass was formed from rubbish thrown into the sea, most is simply rubbish that was dumped in the sea. More restrictive disposal policies and a general desire to reduce pollution has limited the volume of  sea glass that washes ashore in recent years.

3.)  The History of Sea Glass is in its color

The sea glass collecting elite are experts in history.   They research early 2oth century tableware patterns to place a shard's origin in history. They are familiar with the chemistry of glass-making and changes to production recipes. They study maritime history, tides, and wind patterns to anticipate when and where a vintage cache might wash ashore. These experts do all this, plus snorkel, kayak, and repel to hidden beaches to collect those rarest of samples.

A guide to the major groups of sea glass shared by

A guide to the major groups of sea glass shared by

A piece of sun-darkened amethyst sea glass.

A piece of sun-darkened amethyst sea glass.

Part of the reason expert collectors get so excited about shipping lanes and disposal practices is that exceptional, rare samples are worth tremendous personal and commercial value. Some colors--like brown, (beer bottle) green, and white carry the least market value. These colors are still in production and are very common to find.  Seafoam green pieces are less common, generally remnants of soda bottles produced in the 1920s. "Black" samples are rare due to their historical nature. (Black samples are usually dark green or olive color, not true black.) They are often remnants of whisky bottles or ink bottles from the 17th and 18th century. Some recently discovered pieces were from a cargo ship wrecked in the 1770s.  Orange sea glass is considered the rarest prize, as orange glass is fickle to make and has never been industrially produced. Understanding the history of glass production can help you guess when that sea gem you've found made its way into the sea. (Learn more.)

4.) Sea Glass Changes Color

Clear glass that was manufactured in the early 20th century may have a lavender or amethyst hue now. This is because the clarifying agent used to produce a clear effect in the glass darkens with exposure to sun. All those years in the surf and sand would have darkened the sample to the lavender or amethyst color it is today. (Learn more.)

5.) Sea Glass Can Be Pricey

The definitive guide to your sea glass collection.

With samples becoming scarce, and the popularity of sea glass jewelry, an extraordinary piece of sea glass can go for hundreds of dollars. The "Shard of The Year," selected by the North American Sea Glass Association, was awarded $1000. Color, size, and patina all effect the value of a sample. Maybe it's time to check your stash for those rare pieces. (Learn more.)

To identify the pieces in your collection, take a look at curator extraordinaire Mary Beth Beuke's definitive guide, aptly named The Ultimate Guide to Sea Glass.  There you will find historical information, dating strategies, and much more.

Let us know what you discover!


The cool thing about Tisbury Turkey is that everything we do supports a non-profit. Everything. Including this article. Commissions earned through the links to stores on this page benefit our current campaign.



Sewing A Dream on Martha's Vineyard


Maybe it's because they named her after her farm-tending home-schooling grandmother Gertrude Austin. Or maybe it's because Rachel was born and raised in New York City and needed a change. Maybe it's just that the lure of Martha's Vineyard caught Austin young, but whether it's genes or coincidence, Rachel Austin Baumrin of Austin Designs is living the life her grandmother embraced and her mother fled. 

I met her at her home-slash-farm way (I mean way) up Christiantown Road in West Tisbury, where she lives with her husband, two dogs, and her chickens. Here she grows the lavender and herbs for her beautiful handmade heat packs and eye pillows.  She tends the chickens whose eggs she sells at Scottish Bakehouse and Cronigs. Like many others, her Vineyard journey has brought her back to the land, working with her hands, and  a quiet country life.

That's not how it was supposed to go.

Twenty years ago Baumrin was studying to be a costume designer. It had been her lifelong dream since her Grandma Gerty taught her to sew as a child. She had worked in theater as a teenager, designing costumes for summer productions here on Martha's Vineyard, and spent her winters in NYC honing her craft.  But one day she was told she wasn't good enough. She was told she didn't have what it takes. So she walked away.

For twenty years, Baumrin avoided the sewing machine. She painted houses for a living, and owned a hardware store. She didn't sew. But, as it does for so many, Martha's Vineyard had a way of bringing her back to her true passion. First, it was the garden and the herbs. Then a little heat pack. A few more, a summer at the flea markets in Chilmark and at Featherstone Arts. Now, she tells me proudly, she's a juried member of the Vineyard Artisans, selling hand-sewn bags, wallets, herbal packs and more. It's official. She's back to sewing and she  loves it

One of Baumrin's most popular products is the Pocket Pod, which we featured in our Winter 2014 Goodbox. Bigger than a sachet, these hand made little bundles of aromatherapy are perfect for hanging in a closet or car. She also has a line of bags, wallets, and pouches. Perhaps it's all those years building costumes from scraps, but Baumrin is a natural at pairing vintage fabrics, whimsical prints, and colorful embellishments. The result is a line of products as joyful as her smile itself.

In her spare time there's her vegetable garden, canning, and knitting. It's not costume design. It's better. And I'm pretty sure Grandma Gerty would be proud.

Find Austin Designs products at the Vineyard Artisan's Festival, Chilmark Flea, Featherstone Flea, and online exclusively at




Affordable Vineyard Housing? Yes!

A sustainable, affordable IHT property provides Islanders earning less than the Area Median Income permanent homes.

A sustainable, affordable IHT property provides Islanders earning less than the Area Median Income permanent homes.

Sophie Abrams, Development Director at Island Housing Trust

Sophie Abrams, Development Director at Island Housing Trust

I met Sophie, the Development Manager for Island Housing Trust, at a sun-soaked table by the window of the Little House Cafe on State Road. We chose Little House for our meeting spot because it was convenient to her office, she needed lunch, and they brew a beautiful cinnamon tea. In retrospect, no other restaurant could have been more appropriate for our meeting.

Sophie was there to discuss the launch of the Tisbury Turkey campaign for Island Housing Trust, a Martha's Vineyard non-profit in the business of helping residents find affordable, and permanent, housing solutions. If you've never experienced the "Island Shuffle," I should explain why permanent is as important as affordable in that mission.  In an environment that favors seasonal rentals (weekly rental in summertime is generally more profitable for home owners in ten weeks than year-round rentals are in twelve months), residents find that locating and securing a year-round rental is very difficult or even impossible. So, they do the Shuffle. It goes something like this: find a home for September-May, and another June-August, then start all over with a new September-May home, and so on. 

It's not uncommon for families to move two or three times a year for years before they can find something to call home year-around. For many families, "home" in the summer means a tent at the campground, an overcrowded basement apartment, or couch-surfing week to week with generous friends. All that at the busiest time of the year, when for many Islanders, it's make-or-break time when they need to earn enough money to last the winter, or find themselves homeless and broke come January. This year, several teachers are finding themselves homeless for finals, as a rough winter has extended the school year beyond the end of leases.

Island Housing Trust works with other local agencies to build single and multi-family units that fit both the needs of Islanders and the requirements of Island land-use restrictions and aesthetics. It's not always an easy balance, but IHT manages to do it, and do it well. As a housing developer, IHT strives to make sure homeowners can afford to maintain and retain their homes by employing energy-efficient and sustainable practices. Their beautiful properties in West Tisbury, Edgartown, and across the island are leased, sold, and maintained in partnership with the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority.

A competition for the most cost effective, high performance design and build proposal resulted in this IHT property on Harpoon Lane.

A competition for the most cost effective, high performance design and build proposal resulted in this IHT property on Harpoon Lane.

Working for IHT lets her give back, says a grateful Sophie Abrams, who feels lucky to have found a permanent home these days (and it's not in her parents' basement). As a young person building a life and a career on the Island, she has seen too many friends decide to leave the Island because they can't maintain the constant moving and high cost of living forever. There are hundreds of names on the IHT wait list for permanent homes, and with the summer rush just heating up, hundreds of temporary workers will be thrown into the mix for finding temporary housing solutions. Sophie and the team at IHT investigating solutions ranging from year-round Tiny House communities to summer dormitories to keep Island businesses staffed in the busy season.

Sophie is far from the first person I've heard thank her lucky stars to have a dependable home on Martha's Vineyard, and to be able to make a life with the ocean, the cliffs, and the forest so near.  Our meeting place couldn't have better. The Little House Cafe, with its bright interior, colorful curtains, and fabulous falafel, was just the right spot to appreciate the beauty of Home.


Martha's Vineyard, Delivered Beautifully

Phew. It was a long winter. The Tisbury Turkey Spring 2015 Goodbox shipped this week, and boy was it a welcome sight. There has been too much snow, too much cold, and definitely too much ice in the harbor this year. Now the trees are starting to bud and we're starting to see hints of spring all around. So let's start unpacking that Spring Goodbox!

berry basket.jpg

With fragile contents to protect, we needed a little something extra to keep items from shifting around. Extra bubble wrap? Perish the thought. We made mini berry baskets (with cute, colorful linings) to hold items needing extra protection. They are totally reusable, too,  the perfect container for a small potted plant or to display Easter eggs and decorative spring items. 

We rolled up the Flour Sack Tea Towel from L.A. Brown Photography and wrapped it with coordinating paper from the berry box. Lisa's images of "inland" scenes around Martha's Vineyard remind us that in many ways, Martha's Vineyard hasn't changed since the agricultural days of the past. There are still farm stands and zinnias for sale in tin cans, and pigs, chickens and horses across the island. Even the flour sack fabric of these towels  is reminiscent of days gone by and the dresses my grandma used to make for Mom from the feed sacks used around the farm.


That handmade berry box was built to hold Martha's Vineyard Sea Salt & the Salt Cellar from Leslie Freeman Designs. Leslie and Heidi (of MV Sea Salt) teamed up to create the perfect pairing--a petite salt cellar and just enough premium sea salt to fill it.  Heidi's briny, flakey salt is perfect for finishing any dish, but we included a recipe card for her roasted asparagus to get you inspired.  

The Spring Goodbox celebrates--and benefits--the Animal Shelter of Martha's Vineyard. This important organization is lucky enough to have Lisa Vanderhoop supporting their work with her Vineyard Seadogs Calendar, inspired by her beautiful Weimaranar, Amos. We are very grateful to Lisa for donating three of her beautiful images to be used in our spring collection as hand made photo greeting cards.  You will find one image of Amos himself in this collection: Amos Reflecting by the cliffs at Lucy Vincent Beach. Of course these greeting cards are perfect for sending sentiments to friends,  but they are so pretty you may want to frame them instead!

We have some great surprises in store for the Vineyard Seasons Summer 2015 Goodbox which ships in June. It will celebrate a new charity (to be announced soon) and a new group of talented Martha's Vineyard artisans. We are taking orders for this limited edition collection now, so subscribe early to make sure you don't miss out Martha's Vineyard's exclusive artisan subscription box.

The Best Gifts You Won't Find On Amazon


Yes, it's true. There are some products that simply cannot be found in Amazon's giant marketplace. And they are wonderful. Durable. Beautiful. Functional. And often, inexpensive.

I'm talking about handmade goods from the world's artisans.

Felted Polar Bear from Globe-In

When I lived in New York City, finding one-of-a-kind, handcrafted gifts (usually for myself) was easy. Besides numerous independent shops in my neighborhood, there were large open-air markets and street fairs with goods from every imaginable source. Outside the city, things get a little trickier, but you can still find many locally made products at markets and fairs. On the Vineyard, we have the Vineyard Artisans Holiday Festival and Featherstone Art's Holiday Gift Show making a wide array of beautiful Vineyard-made products available in the winter season. 

If you are looking for something a little farther afield, there are still more options. Many of us are familiar with Etsy, a marketplace for primarily North American and European artists and artisans. A new marketplace--funded in large part by Deepak Chopra--has come online to help artists in remote or impoverished areas market their products to a global audience. The platform, called Globe-in, connects a network of "Artist Helpers" with artisans living in places where access to technology is limited. Globe-in's helpers provide photography, writing, and technological support to help the artists reach international buyers through the online platform. Globe-in even offers a subscription box highlighting a geographic area each month.

Studded leather wrap bracelet from the Vineyard's own Rebeccah J.

Of course you don't have to cross the ocean to find great handmade products (ok, maybe just Vineyard Sound). If even that's too far for you, many Island artists and artisans have web stores, and I am working hard to bring new talents online through Tisbury Turkey. In the meantime, take a moment to visit some of our favorites available online: Rebeccah JMartha's Vineyard Sea Salt, and Blanchard Photographic Impressions. Of course, you can order a hand-selected assortment of Island-made goods to be delivered to your doorstep seasonally when you order a Vineyard Seasons Goodbox right here on Tisbury Turkey

So there you have it: some pretty amazing gifts you won't find on Amazon, but you will find online, all supporting independent artists and artisans on the island and across the world.

Patagonia Goes UpCycle


Patagonia is a leader in sustainable, ethical manufacturing processes and has been for decades. They've done it again with their Truth to Materials Collection, which uses reclaimed and recycled materials to create the kind of beautiful, durable clothes you expect from Patagonia. The pieces in this collection are more than just clothes. They are an inspiration, a pledge of support and a wearable link to the traditions of quality garment-making. They are the antidote to fast fashion. And they are Patagonia, so they will be a favorite piece in your closet for decades.

About the Collection

Reclaimed Wool: Calamai / Italy

Figli di Michelangelo Calamai was founded in 1878, roughly 100 years before the birth of the environmental movement. Calamai is dedicated to producing reclaimed wool. The finished product uses garments and manufacturing scrap and blends them into a variety of knits, weaves and weights as well as textures. The reclaimed wool used by Patagonia is made from discarded wool sweaters that are shred into usable fiber - just like the early days - and mixed with polyester and nylon for strength. 

Reclaimed Cotton: TAL Group / China & Malaysia

The typical life of a cotton garment, whether it’s conventional or organic, is a straight line to the landfill. Growing, spinning and weaving leads to cutting and construction and that leads to consumer use which eventually leads to the dump. Thanks to a partnership with the TAL Group, one of the larger garment manufacturers in the world, Patagonia has been able to take cotton consumption and twist it closer to the elusive closed-loop. Since 2011, the TAL Group has been saving their cotton scraps by sweeping the floors of their factories in China and Malaysia - saving hundreds of tons of cotton from the landfill. This once-useless cutting-room scrap is then spun into fully functional fabrics. Reclaimed cotton is neither bleached nor dyed and is traceable from raw material to retail store. 

Undyed Cashmere: Mongolian plateau region

Mongolian nomads have long known that the key to keeping their grasslands healthy is moving their herds and maintaining a proper ratio of goats to sheep. Patagonia's undyed cashmere is hand-harvested by Mongolian goat herders who brush their flocks as they shift grazing grounds according to the seasons. The colors of the yarns - whites, browns and tans - are as nature intended. The end result is a material untouched by the process of fiber dyeing, which lessens the environmental impact and gives the material an even softer hand. 

Reclaimed Down: Alabama Chanin / Alabama, USA

Patagonia has partnered with designer and artisan Natalie Chanin, of Alabama Chanin, for a one-of-a-kind reclaimed down project. Damaged, returned down jackets (that cannot be repaired) have been collected in bales in Patagonia’s shipping warehouse for years through its Common Threads Partnership recycling program. Together with the artisan quilters of Alabama Chanin, the companies have developed a warm and wearable work of art that masquerades as a scarf. Each scarf is a numbered, limited edition. 

Too Cool For Turkey: Chicken Alley Rules the Roost


Its official name is the Martha's Vineyard Community Services Thrift Shop, but everyone knows it as Chicken Alley these days. It's basically the Vineyard version of Goodwill; all sales benefit the Martha's Vineyard Community Services network of support and community assistance. And it's cool. So very cool.  It wasn't easy, but I pared it down to five exceedingly cool things you should know about Chicken Alley.

1. This Dog.

His name is Providence ("Provi"). He's part store-manager, part security lead, part art curator, and presumably part-Chihuahua. He even has his own bed on the counter next to the cash register. Be sure to say hello when you stop by.

2. It's called "Chicken Alley."

Who calls a store Chicken Alley, you ask? The guy who drove the moving truck, that's who. When the Martha's Vineyard Community Services Thrift Shop moved from Main Street in Vineyard Haven to its current location, the mover, who lived nearby, referred to the new location as "Chicken Alley." None of the Thrift Shop workers had heard it called Chicken Alley before, but sure enough, the stretch of Lagoon Pond Road between Five Corners and the Lagoon has long been called "Chicken Alley" by old timers. Back in the day, it was common for folks along that stretch to keep chickens for their families, which made for considerable poultry traffic along that stretch of road. Hence the name. My very own old timer (Mom) verifies that indeed there was an overabundance of chickens down on Lagoon Pond Road in her youth, but then she also claims to know the guy who brought the first skunks to the Island, so take it as you will.

4. chickenalleythrift on Instagram

Image Credit Noava Knight

That's right. You will find shockingly great fashion and style photos by the ultra-awesome Vineyard native Noavakay Knight. She is also the genius behind the Needle Book Fashion Show, shop pup Providence's human, a fashion designer in her own right and jill-of-all-trades at Chicken Alley. Hired by clever store manager Sandy Pratt "to do that social media stuff" (with a fluttering wave of the hand), Knight delivers Chicken Alley coolness to the web near-seven-days-a-week. Learn more about Knight and her work on the Point B Realty blog and follow the chickenalleythrift instagram feed for a stream of fabulousness.

3. The Needle Book Fashion Show and Chicken Alley Art Sale

Image Credit Noava Knight

The biggest event this August on the Vineyard? Sorry, Mr. President, the paparazzi are going to be too busy over on Lagoon Pond Road next weekend to bother chasing down your caravan.  The weekend opens with the Needle Book Fashion Show at the thrift shop Friday,  August 15 at 7 pm. The Art Sale opens in the same location on Sunday, August 17 and runs all week long. 

If you're wondering whether a thrift shop fashion show can rival the runways at New York's Fashion Week, you clearly know nothing about Martha's Vineyard. Needle Book features one-of-a-kind fashion by the Vineyard's own talented designers. This year, a generous donation from Valerie Beggs--the island designer behind "Woodland Waders" who now designs for Woolrich--will be highlighted, as well as designs from a variety of Vineyard designers including up-cycling artist Beldan Radcliffe, Randi & Marlene of Studio Shop,  and the classic, romantic atelier Chrysal Parrot whose work has even graced the Red Carpet. And that's just the beginning! Hundreds of pieces of original art, vintage prints and collectibles will be available at the Art Sale Sunday and continuing all week long. 

4. Fashion Show & Art Sale Posters

The art work created to advertise the art work for sale at Chicken Alley deserves its own mention. Island artist Marshall Pratt designs the unique posters for the Art Sale and Needle Book Fashion Show, and they are worth celebrating in their own right. Whimsical, enigmatic, and collectible, they capture the spirit of the events and of Chicken Alley itself. And now they can be purchased online through Tisbury Turkey to benefit Martha's Vineyard Community Services. Decorate your walls with Vineyard-grown art and help a great cause. Just how we like it!

5. $43,000 for charity. In one weekend.

You heard me right: according to the MV Times, The Needle Book Fashion Show and Chicken Alley Art Sale raised $43,000 last year. In one weekend. By far the biggest and most anticipated events hosted by Chicken Alley, the weekend's activities draw hundreds of visitors to the little shop on Lagoon Pond Road. Feeling inspired? Donations for the Art Sale are collected year around at the shop. Donations of all types of good quality, undamaged, salable goods are collected every day during business hours. For details, see the Thrift Shop page of the MVCS website here.  And be sure to stop by Chicken Alley for some very special events that do #theVineyardGood next weekend.





Patagonia and Doing #theVineyardGood


Long before TOMS and Sevenly showed the world that responsible consumerism was here to stay, there was Patagonia. Their journey toward environmentally and socially responsible practices began in 1988 with the discovery that clothes made of conventionally grown cotton off-gassed formaldehyde that was making. Patagonia's production went 100% organic by 1996 and they started to look into other social and environmental implications of their supply chain and manufacturing.

 “Living the examined life,” Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, explains, “is a pain in the ass.” 

Chouinard's observation about choosing to understand the implications of his company's practices resonates with many of us. Once down the rabbit hole of examining our choices, we easily become overwhelmed by the impact even our tiniest decisions can have on the planet and its residents. Patagonia recognizes that it can still do more--there are issues they have not yet found ways to address, and there probably always will be. And that fact can't be overemphasized. People and corporations will never be perfect or perfectly responsible, but becoming paralyzed by the complex web of consumer and social responsibility is far worse. Better to make one small change than none at all. 

And that's what we hope to achieve at Tisbury Turkey. We know that online shopping can feel like the enemy of the ideals of living locally. But in a world where it's unlikely that people can or will shop locally 100% of the time, we provide the opportunity for folks near and far to make one small change to support the local community. 

Check out Patagonia's website for more information about their responsible practices and to learn how to recycle your Patagonia clothing through their Common Threads partnership. They are having a sale right now--up to 40% off--and when you start at the links on the Tisbury Turkey website, our campaign for a Vineyard non-profit receives 8% of your spending. 

If you choose to shop through any of the links on this page, our current campaign receives a donation. Patagonia gives 8% toward our campaign, ReUseIt gives 2-5%, TOMS gives 7% on most items, Tea Collection gives, 8% and Sevenly gives a whopping 12% to our current campaign.

Do #TheVineyardGood


Do The Vineyard Good. It's our motto and our mission. It's the best part of sitting down every morning to check our web stats, our sales, and news of our featured non-profits. Uncovering who, what, and how people do #TheVineyardGood is a reward in itself. So I am rechristening this blog to remind myself and our readers exactly what we care about. Welcome to The Good Blog.

We will be featuring posts about the people and organizations that make Martha's Vineyard so special, whether that means protecting the natural environment, helping neighbors in need, or creating beautiful and delectable objects locally.  We'll highlight the ways our shoppers are doing #TheVineyardGood through their online shopping across the country (even internationally!) and share the ways our online retailers are raising their ethical and environmental standards. And don't forget you can share too! Share your photos and stories of people doing #TheVineyardGood on Instagram, or simply send them to us, and if we feature yours on FB or our website we'll send you some free Tisbury Turkey swag.

Brenda Grandizio and me at the 2014 Oak Bluffs Harbor Fest

Here's me with Brenda Grandizio, director of the Family Planning Clinic of Martha's Vineyard (a division of Health Imperatives of Southeastern Massachusetts) at the Oak Bluffs Harbor Fest last week. She came by to help me spread the word about our Tisbury Turkey campaign for the Friends of Family Planning--a non-profit group that supports the work of the Clinic--at the Oak Bluffs Harbor Fest. She had a church fundraiser and a NAACP meeting and a few other family and community activities that day, but she still found time to don her "i got condoms" shirt and hand out free condoms to educate the community about safe sex. Yeah, Brenda's a person who can't stop doing #TheVineyardGood.

And our very own Good News for the day? Together, the Tisbury Turkey community has raised almost $400 for the Friends of Family Planning and (by extension) the Family Planning Clinic of Martha's Vineyard. Whether you shopped through our online retailers, were one of the many folks who stopped by to pick up a shirt or mug at the Harbor Fest or ordered our Oscar gear online, thank you for your support! We've added new items to Our Store, and changed the format of our Sales & Events to make it easier for your to browse great new deals. Keep up the good work. This is a team effort, and you make a fabulous team. 

A Beautiful Start To Summer


This Memorial Day, I celebrated the start of the 2014 summer season at the Friends of Family Planning Art Show. I couldn't have been more thrilled to participate in the event and to meet so many artists, patrons, and volunteers. Again and again, people told me how important the Family Planning Clinic is to the community of Martha's Vineyard and how much they appreciate the hard work the Friends of Family Planning put into keeping it operational. I love being able to offer support to wonderful organizations like these.

My perch front of the Poster Contest Submissions wall.

I set up shop in front the wall display of the entries to the Art Show's annual poster contest for local high school students. Standing there all day gave me plenty of opportunity to enjoy the posters myself, but it was especially nice to hear so many people remark on the exceptional talent exhibited by the students this year. Many, many visitors were impressed by the professional and artistic quality of the submissions. The winning poster, created by Jack Yuen, received a great deal of attention. Some were befuddled by the design. To others, it was a fun and whimsical design perfectly suited for the event. Personally, I loved it. In any case, art is meant to stimulate reflection and conversation, so kudos to Mr. Yuen.

Many visitors to the Art Show also commented on the magnificent floral arrangements provided by island florists. The floral chandeliers created by Morrice Florist were photographed by many guests, who commented on both the lovely design of the installation and the freshness and beauty of the flowers.

Morrice Florist's lovely floral chandelier.

My pictures of Washington Ledesma's work came out terribly, so I stole this image from his website. Check it out to see more of his work. 

I had the pleasure of talking with many of the artists who donated art to the show and watching as their work was purchased during the event. From watercolors to photographs to pottery, sculpture, and more, lucky patrons made off with some fabulous works of art.  I even managed to pick up a hand-painted ceramic pig by Washington Ledesma (whom I should remind has promised me a custom-painted turkey plate). And through it all, Jay Lagemann's near life-size bronze sculpture Swinging Jenny quietly and joyfully reminded me that at the end of the day, hugs from my two little boys awaited when I returned to being "Mom" after a long day as the "Turkey Lady." (Never met Jenny? Check out this video of her driving through the snow.)

By all accounts, this year's Friends of Family Planning Art Show was a great success. Art was enjoyed, the start of a new summer season was celebrated, and the Friends raised some money for their important work. I was able to spread the word to many about Tisbury Turkey and our campaign for the Friends, which in part led to a banner month for us in donation dollars raised.   Thank you to all who stopped by and said hello!

Jay Lagemann loading Swinging Jenny onto the truck. They are both headed south for a show in Maryland. 

5 Tips To Maximize Your Online Shopping


1. Start at Tisbury Turkey. Every. Single. Time.

We are always adding new stores, so you never know whether that must-have item is available from one of our merchants.  Make your browser's home page so you're always reminded to start with us.

2. Go to before you add items to your cart.

Some merchants (like Amazon) only credit us for items that were added to your cart after you clicked on our link. That means if you load up your cart, then go to and click through to Amazon, we won't get credit for the items you buy! Best way to remember? See #1.

3. Try out a new store.

See if you can meet or beat what you usually pay for products and services through one of our partner vendors. Ever used for diapers? Shutterfly for photos and invites?Check them out. What about travel? Maybe you have a favorite site, but we don't partner with it. Check out the prices at one of our travel partners and see how it compares. There's no harm in shopping around, right? 

4. Take advantage of ship-to-store.

Maybe there are items you'd normally go into one of the big box stores to purchase and bring home. Order that TV or computer through or Walmart via and you can still pick it up at your local branch.

5. Follow us on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

We'll let you know if an unbeatable deal comes through, so you can grab it before it expires. Show off your island loyalty by sharing the news of your purchases with your friends and followers to keep the momentum going.

A Good Day


I had the good fortune of meeting the director of the Family Planning Clinic of Martha's Vineyard, Brenda Grandizio, in April.  It is always a good day for me when I get to meet the individuals behind the island's amazing non-profits and witness their enthusiasm as they describe the work they do. It was no different with Grandizio as she toured me through the Clinic, which operates under the auspices of regional non-profit Health Imperatives. Watching her beam with pride as she showed me a new exam table or basket of free condoms was my first hint that the Clinic might be a very special place. 

She told me that every patient has an intake interview before the appointment and an exit interview after the appointment. That means not once, but twice, a patient gets to have a conversation and ask questions of Clinic staff while fully dressed. (Because, you know, having a conversation about your private business is already easy enough, why not do it while you're shivering under a paper gown?) After your visit, Clinic staff will follow up with a call, just to make sure there are no additional questions or concerns, or to help arrange additional care that might have been recommended by the Clinic staff.

In addition to offering a full range of reproductive health care for women and free condoms, the Clinic provides reproductive health exams for men as well as a vasectomy reimbursement program funded by the Friends of Family Planning. The clinic works closely with rape crisis and domestic violence counseling center Connect to End Violence to insure that victims of rape and assault get the help they need. 

Grandizio told me that a patient recently described the Clinic as like "a warm fluffy pillow." That's not something you hear people say about their OB/GYN very often. It's even rarer to hear when it's a subsidized clinic that will not turn any person away for being unable to pay.  But the Clinic isn't restricted to only those needing financial assistance. You are welcome to be treated at the Clinic even when your coffers are full. They also accept a full range of insurance. Receiving a high level of service with payments you can afford will make the day you visit Family Planning a very good day indeed.

Tisbury Turkey's current campaign supports the Friends of Family Planning, a local non-profit group providing assistance to the Family Planning Clinic of Martha's Vineyard on every level. The Friends have painted walls, bought supplies, paid rent, done anything required to keep the Clinic doors open. Your shopping will help the Friends meet their current goal of paying off the Clinic's mortgage.

5 Mothers Day Gift Ideas That Do Not Include Bath Salts



I'm sure Mom loves you a lot. And maybe she even likes the cute little basket of bath salts and body lotion you usually pick up on the way to your Mother's Day brunch. But, really, doesn't she deserve more? Celebrate Mom for her wacky, moody, bad-ass self this year with a gift that goes beyond the usual. 

Of course, we have a few suggestions from the Tisbury Turkey community of stores:

1.  Moms work year around, right? In fact, when you were just a wee thing, your mom worked 24 hours a day for a longer period of time than she cares to remember. Make your Mother's Day go just a bit farther with one of many fun new subscription services. Sign mom up for one of these services and she'll get a box of yummy, pretty, or plain fun items delivered to her doorstep. You define the "level" (or $$) of the box and the frequency of delivery.

Check out Julep for nail and beauty items, StitchFix* for custom clothing deliveries (note, Mom will have to create a style profile and upload her measurements for this one), or Globe-In for a selection of Fair Trade sundries and goods. For a more traditional route, have monthly gift baskets, flowers, or plants delivered by 1800Flowers.

2. Use CafePress for more than just ordering a cute customized mug. Remind her it's not so serious after all with some "World's Okayest Mom" swag or snappy tee. 

3. It may be hard to believe, but Mom does have interests outside of her children. She may not have time to do much with those interests these days, but I promise she'll appreciate a gift that acknowledges her individuality. She's mastered changing a diaper with one hand in the time it took you to read this sentence, so why not present her with a new challenge? With Yoga Download she can try a variety of new Yoga classes whenever and wherever she finds a moment to spare. She learn a new technique or refine an existing one with a selection of craft and cooking classes online at  Is Mom passionate about caring for her spirit as well as her body? She can explore programs for body and mind with GAIAMtv from GAIAM

4. Mom loves art, and not just the kind you find hanging on the refrigerator. Get her something hip, edgy, and fun designed by up-and-coming artists at DBH. Whether it's toys, shirts, or collectibles, you'll find pop art items to celebrate mom's geek side at KidRobot.

5. The only thing Mom loves more than you is getting away from you for a few days. Give her the gift of time to herself. Book flights, hotels, or packages through our Orbitz or Tingo links and her gift will also benefit a local charity, so you'll have good karma to spare.

Have ideas of your own to contribute? Add them in the comments!


*Note: Our partnership with StitchFix is still pending, so your purchase from their store may not result in a donation to a local charity.

Stand Out From the (Prom) Crowd


Ah, the '80s. In Prom-drama classic, Pretty in Pink, Molly Ringwald's character sews her own gown from thrift-store finds.

I admit, it's been quite some time since I've been to a prom, but when it comes to gorgeous gowns, I love them as much as ever. Back in my day, your choices were limited to the one or two department stores or bridal shops in your town, or maybe a thrift store find for the more adventurous. I would have killed for the wide, wild array of gowns available in-store and online today!  Even better, your prom shopping can now support the Vineyard's own non-profits through a few great vendors:

1. Rent the Runway

Badgley Mischka gown for rent on Rent the Runway

I am officially in love with this website. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on a red-carpet knockoff, you can rent the real thing for the evening at a tiny fraction of the price. Most gowns ranging in price from hundreds to thousands of dollars retail are available at $50 to $100 dollars, with gowns available at higher and lower rental prices as well.

Prom photo of a happy RTR customer.

Even better than the selection is the Our Runway social shopping tool. View photos of other "real people" in the gowns they've rented for inspiration. Tailor your search to the styles, designers, or details you like best. You can even filter by size to see girls with your body shape in the dresses.

Sure, you have to send it back after a week, but just stuff it in the mailing envelope and off it goes. RTR will handle the dry-cleaning. They've even made the fitting easy by giving you a free second size to make sure you get a gown that fits. Head to prom in a dress you could never afford to buy, and prevent the glut of worn-once gowns filling closets across the country. After all, men rent tuxes all the time. Why should they have all the fun?

Rent the Runway gives 7% of your purchase amount to Tisbury Turkey, so your evening will be extra sweet knowing that a Vineyard charity benefits, too.

2. Betsey Johnson Planet Blue & More

Skip the bridal shop sequins-and-taffeta tradition and try something a little different. Many of our partner stores carry beautiful gowns and dresses for every taste. Check Betsey Johnson for something a little edgy, Donna Karan for sophisticated glamour, Coast for something flirty and fun, or Planet Blue and Swell for a sexy-flowy-beachy feel. Lane Bryant carries a cocktail dress or evening gown for every taste, and of course, you can find anything at Amazon.

Planet Blue

Betsey Johnson


Check out our store guide for a full list of stores including great sources for shoes and accessories like Steve Madden, Ross-Simons and more. 


3. ThredUp

Go consignment. There are a variety of websites for finding used gowns out there. We've partnered with thredUp, which has a great selection of cocktail dresses and evening gowns. The selection changes fast, though, so check back often to find your perfect dress. You'll protect the environment by wearing used, and you can still play dress up all summer long.

So there you have it, a few Prom gown ideas to put you on the best dressed list and Do the Vineyard Good.