A Farm by the Sea -August 2018

by: Hilary Newell

photography by: Nicole Harnishfeger

Bartlett’s Ocean View Farm, with its rich history, has been an integral part of Nantucket for 175 years. For six going on seven generations, there have been changes in what the Bartlett family has grown and raised, along with continual development of ideas about how to raise crops and animals, but the commitment to being good stewards of the land has never wavered.

Currently, with more than 100 acres under cultivation, nearly 35 greenhouses, and up to 125 employees etables and ornamental plants that are consumed or planted on Nantucket. Islanders and visitors alike grow excited when the corn and tomatoes are harvested, as these are the delights that everyone waits for all year.

The story of Bartlett’s figures richly in Nantucket history. Phil is the fifth generation of farmers, having succeeded his father, John H. “June” Bartlett Jr. Phil’s great-great-grandfather William came to Nantucket in the early 1800s from Marblehead. At the time, Nantucket was in the heyday of the whaling era, though the family lived a modest lifestyle as subsistence farmers.

As a youngster, Phil grew vegetables for Ed Gardner at Mount Vernon Farm and at age 12 or 13, he started growing tomatoes in his grandmother’s front yard. He challenged himself to try growing new vegetables and built a tiny greenhouse to grow seedlings, which he later transplanted into the ground. That little greenhouse stood until the late 1950s when Phil returned from his service in the U.S. Marines.

The farm has seen many changes over the years, with each generation modifying the business model to find the perfect niche for whatever needs the island population had at the time.

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