Dylan Leary and Nick Mathis work side by side on Pelham Farms. They met as students at the Culinary Institute of America, the alma mater of legendary Provincetown chef, culinary bon vivant, and all ‘round raconteur Anthony Bourdain.

Dylan and Nick would have late night conversations about owning their own regenerative farms. Dylan, to paraphrase, was as happy as a pig in mud. He could get a bachelor’s degree and a cooking education. His studies concentrated on applied food and within that included curriculum comprising farm to table. Along with learning the proper way to boil an egg and make killer mole, he indulged in topics like agricultural production, tillage and soil health, chef community relations, and regenerative agriculture.

At the Institute Dylan also was able to put his political values into action. He served as student body president. He interned at Apricot Lane Farm, the farm featured in the movie, The Biggest Little Farm. “I still consider Apricot Lane the best three months of my life. I came back from Apricot Lane excited about regenerative farming. I would love to duplicate on Pelham Farms with interns what I experienced there,” Dylan said.

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Growing Pains: Building A Regenerative Farm On Cape Cod

John Greiner-Ferris | West Dennis, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, United States

We live in a country so divided that we've been polarized over something as practical as face coverings during a pandemic. On Cape Cod, developers and environmentalist grapple over what both see for its future. But on the midCape, two washashores, one a developer with deep pockets and the other a long-haired chef and farmer are coming to terms with each other’s differing values and world views for mutual benefit. That they are father and son makes this story even more intriguing.

The developer is Dennis Leary, a former stockbroker and Florida real estate developer who, along with 11 other investors, has ventured $20 million on the Pelham House Resort. His son, Dylan, is growing the 10-acre Pelham Farms in West Dennis. His goal is to provide locally sourced food to the resort’s guests, then later for the community, with Dylan insisting it follow regenerative farming practices with an educational component.

Remember that the first airplane flew 120 feet for 12 seconds. A 10-acre farm could just be the beginning of a new approach to farming on the Cape.


This story originally ran in Edible Cape Cod.

John Greiner-Ferris is a writer, visual artist, and a commercial and fine arts photographer. For years, he worked as a corporate writer/photographer. In 2007 he put down the camera and decided to dedicate himself fully to the theater. He earned his MFA in playwriting and founded two theater companies. Then, at a residency in January 2017, he again picked up the camera. Today, he continues to work multidisciplinarily, writing and photographing for a variety of publications and sites primarily on the arts and sustainability issues, writing for the theater, making art, and working with people and on stories that he feels will make the world a better place.



The camera is an interesting artistic tool. In all my work, I try to listen to the material I'm working with, whether it's paint and collage, words, sentences, and structure, or a camera; I try to understand what they might reveal.--what they are trying to show me. 

At the beginnng while working on this story, I was having such difficulty portraying Dylan because he wouldn't keep his hair out of his face. Finally, I gave up and just started making images of him without showing his face. I later evolved to shooting almost exclusively with a very small apertrure in order to show both Dyland and Nick, not as individual human beings, but as part of the farm itself, not separate from it as a wider f stop would have done.

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