The Start Up Team
Philippe Morin has been an Island resident for more than ten years. With Barbara Ronchetti he helped start and establish Island Alpaca, building the beautiful barn there, helping to choose and care for the animals, and maintaining their pasture.
Alpaca manure has high compost value and Philippe has been managing the on farm composting process there for several years. He has focused on researching and developing vermicomposting techniques and is ready to bring his experience to a larger composting effort.
For some time his work with the compost at Island Alpaca has caused him to think about how valuable for Martha’s Vineyard it would be to compost a lot more of the Island’s discarded organic materials. With a very detailed and realistic understanding of the challenges we face in the world today he is deeply motivated to contribute to the world-wide imperative for bio-mass conservation and soil carbon retention.
Chris Riger was a documentary film-maker for 23 years and has been farming for fourteen years now. For him the very first aspect of gardening and farming that opened intuitively was compost making and soil building. A good place to get a foothold as everything in farming and land care starts there.
Chris returned to the Island this past January to work with the cows at Mermaid Farm and began thinking also of collaborative efforts the farming community and the whole community on Martha’s Vineyard might be ready for – and in need of. From a range of experiences on several good-sized farms he realized that pooling an extended community’s farming experience, talent, equipment and time may sometimes be the only practical way to accomplish some very important tasks.
Many farmers, gardeners, pasture managers and landscapers know that quality compost making and application to the soil are a very high priority but do not have the time or resources it needs. He would like to bring his practical experience with large-scale windrow composting and his love of the life in the soil to this project and to the farmers and all the lovers of the land on this Island.
Nicola Blake is a Ph.D. Environmental Chemist – specializing in the study of the earth’s atmosphere and the impact that human pollutants have on climate change. Nicola grew up in a crowded suburb of London, England, but because of the strict UK “green belt” policy for controlling urban sprawl she was able to gaze at the cows from an upstairs window. Gardening and “pick your own” were always important family activities but she didn’t get any closer to livestock till she moved to a 30-acre tree and alpaca farm in New Hampshire more than 10 years ago.
She is a hand-spinner and co-owner of a custom mini-mill, processing alpaca and sheep wool into yarn. Nicola’s main interest in compost is as a way to fertilize the soil and maximize healthy food production, while minimizing the use of fossil fuels. Keeping food and yard waste out of landfills and properly composting it also reduces the production of methane, which is a powerful greenhouse gas.
BZ Riger has been a year-round resident on the vineyard for thirty years. Always having a love of nature she brought that passion to her successful small business Charlotte’s Gardens for eighteen years. Growing over 180 varieties of fragrant flowers, heirloom tomatoes, specialty vegetables and creating gourmet food products. Her horses helped her make large quantities of healthy compost for adding to her extensive production gardens.
BZ moved from nurturing beautiful blooms and gourmet food for customers to nurturing people; helping them reconnect to inspiration, confidence and empowerment in their lives and small businesses. BZ uses computers and the internet as her compost to give her clients’ ideas and creative thoughts a solid foundation, allowing them to bring their passion in business to the world in a way that is cutting edge and sustainable.