Herring Creek Farm, located on a peninsula surrounded by Edgartown Great Pond to the northwest, the Atlantic Ocean on the south and Crackatuxet Pond on the east, has a rich agricultural history dating back nearly 300 years. It was once a portion of the Great Plains Farm, assembled by Ronold Wild in 1942. Wild sold a sailboat, which he and his wife Dorothy had used to reach the island, to buy a portion of the land from Jack Weihl. Over a two year period, Ronold and Dorothy purchased additional acreage to complete the final property of 250 acres, 80 of which they had under cultivation. The Wilds grew potatoes for the summer market and hay for the winter market. The story goes that they purchased their first cow from Macy's.
The farm was sold to Benjamin Harrison Cohan, a wool merchant, in 1947. He acquired additional acreage, expanded the barns and raised Holstein cattle for milk production. Mr. Cohan started the Martha's Vineyard Dairy Cooperative on the island during that time. During the 1950s the Great Plains Farm was the largest dairy farm on the Vineyard, and in 1956 it led
|the state in Holstein Friesian lactaction averages. Also in the mid-1950s the farm was the recipient of the top county award for outstanding agricultural achievement and practice in soil conservation. |
Once again the farm was sold, this time to the Wallace Brothers in 1969. During their tenure, the farm's focus was beef cattle. Donald McGuire, who ran the operation for many years, stated the farm raised up to 200 head of Hereford cattle, grew corn, oats and hay, and some vegetables. It was the Wallace brothers who re-named the property Herring Creek Farm - the Great Plains had, with the passage of time, largely filled in with trees and modest development. The farm was aptly named for the Herring Creek which runs across the south end of the farm.
In 2001, the farm was sold to two non-profit conservation organizations, the Nature Conservancy and the Island FARM Institute, along with several private parties. In 2004, the Herring Creek Acquisition Company, a Massachusettes Limited Liability Company formed in January 1995 and owned by descendants of Benjamin Harrison Cohan, purchased the operating farm from FARM Institute. The farm is being restored to its early splendor with varied livestock, active haying and vegetable production.