From past editions of the Vineyard Gazette:
Interest in the newly-formed dairymen’s association of the Island continues to increase, as was evidenced by the large gathering which attended the meeting at Association Hall, Vineyard Haven, last weekend. The bylaws of the new association were presented and accepted, the president, Arnold Fischer of West Tisbury, presiding during the business session. Later, the gathering was addressed by Dr. C.O. Iselin, who spoke on Cooperatives, as established in various places, and which, he predicted, might be expected to succeed equally on the Vineyard:
“We need some small productive industries that will provide a living the year around. It is unwise to trust entirely to one crop, the summer trade. If the vacationers don’t come back here, we have nothing to fall back on.
An adequate local milk supply is one of the first things a prospective, well-to-do summer visitor with small children looks into. What he finds is an Island with some 40,000 people living on it and with only about 300 cows. The majority of these are not particularly good milk producers.
What can a young man do today to keep himself busy and to earn a living on the Island? I believe he can farm. Now modern farming requires capital outlay, not much to be sure, but you cannot just walk out into the woods with an axe and a spade as our forefathers did. The answer, I think, is cooperative farming. And I believe the most profitable crop here will be milk.
Few farms on the Vineyard have adequate dairies and proper sterilizing equipment. No one man can afford modern equipment. A standard product with the guarantee of the cooperative could be sold without difficulty. The answer lies, I think, in ice cream. I believe that you people should give serious thought to these matters. The former generations on this Island saw fit to let the land run down. But now with the summer people here in large numbers and a good local market for ice cream, the land can again be made to yield a living, though it may be necessary to start in a very small way.”
A plea for cooperation among Island residents in support of Island dairymen was made at West Tisbury Grange on Monday night by Willis Hughes, milk inspector of Oak Bluffs, and H. Weston Chase, of the Cape Cod Milk Producers’ Association. Stressing the fact that in general the Island-produced milk is of higher quality and always fresher than that which is shipped from the mainland, and that the Island produ-cers offer the consumer their choice of raw or pasteurized milk, both speakers declared themselves at a loss to understand why the procedure of the Vineyard population as a whole necessitates the drying-off of milch cows in the early fall, and the wastage of a quantity of milk that exceeds the amount shipped in from the mainland.
Under state regulations, any locality which can show that it produces sufficient milk to supply the demand, can bar all outside competition unless the milk is bought within the same locality or zone. That is, for example, as Mr. Hughes explained, “if the Vineyard can supply all of the milk that is required within its boundaries, and any and all major milk companies can be barred from doing business here unless they purchase their milk from Island producers.” He expressed surprise that any Island person should prefer mainland milk to the Island-produced variety.
A permanent tourist industry requires the continued existence of the natural beauty and historic monuments that comprise the Vineyard’s aesthetic appeal to those visitors upon whom we rely so much. The appeal, though, is far from being solely “aesthetic.” It is a matter also of tradition, culture in the broadest sense, and a community life that still makes sense in the modern world.
We have never seen the central issue of tourism better defined than in the words of Conrad Neumann which appeared recently in the Gazette: “Tourism on these islands is basically the selling or renting of scenery. Most people seek the beauty, wildness, and privacy of the beach; so many, in fact, that all three are being rapidly destroyed.” We are spending part of our capital each year, and so it will be until growth is controlled or until the broadening of our economy lessens the irresistible pressures of competitive tourism.
The natural resources of the Vineyard are potentially vast, most obviously in the great areas of shallow salt water and great ponds in which shellfish may be produced far more dependably than at present. Our dairy industry was profitable and well-organized, but the keeping of cows came to have a negative appeal, if there is such a thing, in the context of other occupations. So be it, but the possibilities of small farming and fishing are not restricted in any such way.
Sole reliance upon a single industry has usually, and probably always, proved a disaster in the modern world, and tourism is a narrowly-based industry which so far has been exploited for its immediate possibilities, but not protected for any measure of future years.
Compiled by Alison L. Mead