The Back Porch has something we really don’t have anywhere else on this Island — a distinctly urban vibe. Tucked into a warehouse in the airport business park, the bakery/take-out joint/teaching kitchen spills out onto a cement loading dock gussied up with café tables, flowering plants and half-barrels filled with herbs and nasturtiums. It could be in Soho or Tribeca or any other warehouse district. A couple of Trip Barnes moving trucks next door, with their circus-inspired sign painting, lend a billboard affect.

Inside, metro shelving stocked with preserves and wire baskets filled with monstrous popovers, handmade croissants and sticky buns only reinforce the idea that you’ve arrived at a buzz-worthy destination. You just have to get there. (Hint: Take Barnes Road to N Line to E Line to A Street. Pretend you are on the subway, or walking the long blocks through Alphabet City. Only kidding. If you don’t have a car, take the Number 7 or Number 9 bus from Oak Bluffs.)

Jeanna Shepard

Once you arrive, you’ll notice one difference. Unlike an urban shop, the Back Porch is not crowded. Customers come and go, but the throngs of people are missing. On the one hand, this is kind of cool; finally a spot to grab a quiet cup of coffee with a friend where you will not run into your ex-lover, your mother in law, your co-workers from three jobs ago or the plumber that you owe money to. (Except you might—everyone in the business park has caught on to the Back Porch.) On the other hand, this needs to change in order for chef/owner Jan Buhrman to keep the place open through December.

But Jan is determined — for many reasons. Fiercely committed to supporting local farmers, she wants to stay open while Morning Glory Farm still has hundreds of pounds of tomatoes they want to move, while Mermaid Farm’s cows are still producing the milk that makes excess yogurt, while Grey Barn is looking for a destination for meat cuts that aren’t popular.

“Grey Barn told me that their biggest waste is livers. And I said, listen, I’ll take your pork livers, your beef livers, your lamb livers, and we’re going to make liver sausage out of them. We’ll take Mermaid Farm’s yogurt and turn it into parfaits. You cannot be farm-to-table unless you have relationships with these people and know their struggles. You ask, how can I help?” Jan explained.

Jeanna Shepard

“You don’t tell farmers what you want,” she went on to say. “You let the farmers tell you what they have. That’s farm-to-table. Period. It’s not fair to say, oh, I am only going to take what you have in the middle of August.”

A second, equally important reason for extending the season is that Jan wants to keep her two chefs, Meave McAuliffe and Ismail Samad, and her baker Joe Keenan employed year-round. (She has a total of five employees now, plus three high school students working afternoons).

Meave, who was the opening chef at Behind the Bookstore, is just back from cooking in California and has taken on responsibility for the Back Porch. Ismail, who has been working with the Daily Table in Boston and as chef at the Putney, Vermont restaurant, The Gleanery, is responsible for the food coming out of the catering kitchen. (In the summer, Kitchen Porch catering averages five to six events a day.) Joe Keenan, a longtime Islander who writes and plays music in addition to baking, makes croissants, pizza, pretzels and bread from organic flours and other local ingredients.

Jeanna Shepard

“We are really a team,” Jan said. “I’m committed to the idea that if we pay the salaries and break even on the food [during the off-season], I’m happy with that. Because the real sustainability is having a solid team when things start to get really crazy.” Jan also feels that having a business based solely on four months of high-end catering isn’t sustainable or desirable. “We’ve got eight months out of the year to make food for locals.”

Adding the bakery to the existing catering kitchen (Jan has rented the warehouse space for 18 years) was one impetus for opening up the storefront last year. With the excess ingredients from catering jobs — and products that Jan already made for her booth at the farmers’ market — the opportunity was there to fulfill Jan’s dream of having a larder/take-out spot. She had gotten to know the two women who opened Boulettes Larder in the San Francisco Ferry Building, and she fell in love with their concept. As an added bonus, the idea of opening up an oasis in the “food desert” of the airport park was appealing. (The Back Porch was originally named the Back Porch Larder, but due to confusion with the Larder in Vineyard Haven, Jan is shortening the name.)

To stay thriving this fall, the Back Porch has come up with a variety of ways to cater to the weekday crowd, starting with lunch specials and takeout dinners. For lunch, Meave will always have two soups available as well as a rice bowl, a grain bowl, salads and sandwiches. Daily specials include enchiladas on Tuesdays and shepherd’s pie on Thursday. Friday is pizza day (and challah day). For folks on a budget, there are always day-old sandwiches and pastries.

Every day up until 4 p.m. you can pick up a prepared dinner — oven-roasted pastured chicken with everything-spiced potatoes and roasted vegetables, for instance. There are always vegetarian options. Friday features a “catch of the day,” the result of Jan working with Menemsha Fish House to take whatever they have the most of for a fair price. There are also “farmer’s kits” of ingredients that you can take home and cook yourself.

The Back Porch is also holding cooking classes every Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. on topics like Kimchi and Kombucha, Knife Sharpening Skills, Zero Waste in the Kitchen, Just Jammin’, and the one I want to take — Joe’s Bread-Baking 101. There will be special pop-ups, like next week’s all pumpkin pop-up (including pumpkin apple-cider donuts with candied pepitas.)

But perhaps the most intriguing idea is the new Vineyard Eaters Club, a community-supported model that will hopefully allow the Back Porch to stay open through Dec. 21 by encouraging people to commit to purchasing a minimum amount of goods. For $500, a customer receives $500 of credit at the register as well as a free cooking class, a free cup of coffee with every visit, and a bag of Back Porch stuffing for Thanksgiving.

Between hot meals, crusty bread, sandwiches, salads, prepared sauces (hummus, spicy peanut, olive tapenade, pesto, salsa verde), kimchi, marinated mushrooms, sea salt, drinks, yogurt lassis, spices (including the incredibly aromatic ayurvedic curry mix called Kitchari, which I can attest to being delicious on roasted sweet potato fries), as well as gift baskets and cooking classes, its not hard to imagine that $500 spent in a tasty and satisfying way — all while supporting local farmers and eating whole foods.