So, Susie Middleton has been on my mind for a blog for quite awhile. Every time I drive by Green Island Farm, I think to myself that today is the day. Finally on a cold day in February I made that stop.
Fast forward seven years later and we meet again, and Susie has just finished her third cookbook, Fresh From the Farm, A Year of Recipes and Stories.
Susie is indeed an inspiring woman. Before we go into the fact that she is an amazing writer talented professional cook, I want to talk about her.
Susie was the Chief Editor at Fine Cooking for years. Yes, the magazine that is the bible for home cooks. It brings professional food into your home.
After 11 years of working at Fine Cooking, Susie took a sabbatical to the Vineyard for a month, and so began a new chapter in her life.
Susie had spent time on the Island before with friends, but not any real length of time. However, something called her here. She came five years ago and never left.
She didn’t know what she was looking for from life at the time, but she found it here. Susie has always been passionate about food. She is a trained chef and imagine what she was exposed to at Fine Cooking.
She realized being here that she wanted to be closer to her food sources, and you could do that here. It was the norm, people love being a part of their food here.
Susie remembers going to her first West Tisbury Farmer’s Market and feeling like it was nirvana. The selection, the colors, the enthusiasm people had for food. It was all there.
When she was editor, she never had the time to even think about going to a farmer’s market, but it was different now. She lived on Martha’s Vineyard.
She began to listen to her inner voice. She learned that she needed to spend time outside and she would incorporate that into her life.
They decided to get chickens. So, they got 25 egg-laying hens and decided to raise chickens and sell fresh, Island eggs. Thus came about Green Island Farm, in West Tisbury.
That 25 is now 500 chickens. The house they rent, used to have the land all around it farmed, and slowly, a hundred years later, the land is becoming farm land again. Susie and Roy have been able to rent parcels of land surrounding theirs and are growing their crops and number of chickens.
Susie and Roy have been slowing expanding the farm, and the growth has been manageable and the farm is profitable. Green Island Farm is the second largest producer of eggs on the Island. Morning Glory Farm is the largest. Their eggs have become amazingly popular. In the Summer it’s tough keeping up with the demand.
I was at the farm in February and car after car kept driving up to buy eggs. For $5, you can’t beat having fresh eggs from chickens that spend their time in the fresh air and roaming farm land on the Vineyard. Happy chickens mean delicious eggs.
Seriously, Green Island eggs are so tasty. They taste fresh and cook up light and fluffy. I had to do a little research for myself of course.
Before we talk about the farm more. I want to mention that Susie loves vegetables. She is not a vegetarian, but loves cooking with vegetables as you can see in her cookbooks. She loves that you can do so many things with veggies. The possibilities are endless.
Luckily, she has the technical ability from culinary school and Fine Cooking, and an overactive imagination (her words not mine), so she is constantly thinking of new combinations for meals, hence the fact that she’s releasing her third cookbook, February 12th, 2014.
You can always get eggs there but very soon you’ll be able to get your greens there too. Susie and Roy just built a hoop house (a greenhouse), and now that there are 10 hours of daylight (the minimum needed for growing) their greens are really starting to grow.
Next month at this time, you’ll be able to stop by and get fresh picked salad mixes. Yum, a true taste of warmer weather that’s on it’s way.
Of course during the summer months, you can get all sorts of fresh veggies at Green Island Farm. They specialize in green beans. Though hard to pick, Susie loves her crop. They also have fingerling potatoes, tomatoes, an assortment of greens, bok choy, Fairy Tale eggplant, peas, carrots, squash, peppers, flowers, and more.
The farm has wonderful soil. It’s so rich and dark. Roy has been composting all winter and beams with pride when he talks about it. After all, it’s a lot of work and you’re working with a lot of poop as compost.
So, Green Island Farm is bigger this year, and Susie and Roy hope to continue to grow it. Though Susie will keep on writing, I think Roy would like to make working on the farm his main job. He also works as a builder, but he loves the farm.
They both do, working together to produce such beautiful food. Knowing how a little love goes into everything that comes from their land. They are happy.
It’s the kind of happiness that is open to bumps in the road or a little bad weather. It’s the happiness that wears comfy jeans and not fancy wool suits. Where you wake up and know the day is yours but you also belong to the land.
It’s a life where you are part of a community that supports your dream. Also, Susie could not be more happy. She’s growing, cooking and writing, her own trifecta.
If you’d like to learn more about Susie Middleton, you can check out her wonderful food/lifestyle blog Six Burner Sue. There you can learn about fun, farm stories, recipes, and more. You have to check out the blog about her cat Barney, who I am in love with.
You can also meet Susie at Bunch of Grapes in Vineyard Haven on Saturday afternoon, February 15th at 3 p.m. Susie will be there with her new book, sharing stories, recipes, food and more.
You can also have her sign a book for you. This third book, Fresh From the Farm, A Year of Recipes and Stories is part cookbook and part memoir. It will inspire you to cook healthy and will make you laugh.
Also, don’t forget to stop by Green Island Farm for some eggs. You can even get blue, Araucana eggs there which are a nice surprise for kids. Chances are you’ll meet Susie, Roy, their dog, Farmer and cat, Barney, and you might just fall in love with Green Island Farm too.
I really enjoyed meeting with Susie. From her, I learned that it’s OK to find what makes you happy at any age, and that there’s always time to find your dream. The trick is to learn to listen to yourself. I use the words Fairy Tale for the story title because for me, it seems as though Susie is living her fairy tale. She has found her joy and lives it daily. It’s not perfect, but its hers. She is truly inspiring.