Conceived of and built by a New England farming family headed by a couple of social scientists trained in Human Ecology, Cultural Anthropology, and Psychology, Island Reach is both a public and personal response to collapsing biocultural diversity globally.
In 2006, Janis and Brooks' family-scale forest farm in Massachusetts was in full swing and we were active in educational outreach, speaking widely about food, economies, culture and the environment. At the same time, we were also responding to successive years of biological and climate vectors impacting the forest, culminating in an massive ice storm in 2008 that damaged or destroyed 1000 producing maple trees at the farm. As we were experiencing these impacts personally on the farm, we were also increasingly compelled to activism on behalf of escalating crises affecting our planet's oceans. As farmers and social scientists we determined to purposefully launch a ridge-to-reef engagement and began to investigate how we might be of active service, in addition to working these conservation themes into our farm's US-based direct markets.
In 2011, we mortgaged the farm to purchase the work-yacht, Research Vessel Llyr, a 53' rugged steel ketch, with the plan to refit the boat as our physical platform for conservation service in a biological and cultural hotspot. We began our training as offshore, bluewater mariners as we built our plan to target some of the resource shortages that impede conservation efforts in island and coastal settings.
The former Mother of Perl, at the dock in Kittery, Maine.
Plenty of grinding required on steel ships!
Over the next couple of years, we volunteered, researched, built partnerships, and made passage in the Atlantic, Caribbean and South Pacific, moving crew and ship over 15,000 nautical miles into position for service in Vanuatu.
Over the course of five years, up until the pandemic, we based IR in Vanuatu, where we worked closely with communities across the arcipelago, local nonprofits, and government departments. You can read more about our activities during these years in our annual reports and view our documentaries, some included here on the website, with more are available on the Island Reach Youtube page.
In 2018, after nearly 8 years of RV Llyr's incredible contributions to the mission, we decided to put the vessel on the market, opening up time, space, and opportunity to launch the Island Reach Foundation and grow our range of activities.