Local Agricultural Commissions Brainstorm on Working Together

J.D. O’Gara
Effort by Holliston AgCom Brings in Medway, Franklin, Sherborn & Norfolk
Issue Date: 
June, 2018
Article Body: 

“I think that as individuals that engage in agriculture, we try to do the best we can for the AgComs for the community. We also need to reach out and bring all the communities within our county and be united and bring that information up to the state level,” says PJ Kilkelly, chair of the Holliston Agricultural Committee.
Kilkelly invited members of the Franklin, Medway, Norfolk and Sherborn Agricultural Commissions to a meeting on May 16th, to discuss some ways the commissions can help each other promote agriculture in their communities.
“As individuals we’re pretty helpless, but united we can do a lot,” said Kilkelly. “I think going forward, the AgComs can play a pretty big part. We’re hands on, a good pulse of the community. We should all try to band together and work together, share ideas. Whatever works for Holliston we’ll share with our neighbors and vice versa.”
Holliston’s Agricultural Committee was formed in 2005. Currently, the group is working to develop the community farm located on 32 acres of property acquired by the town in 2004, as well as maintaining its butterfly aviary and community gardens. All of these have had good support from local groups such as the Holliston Newcomers, the Holliston Lions Club and Holliston in Bloom, said Kilkelly, who noted the group will work with Holliston Schools to present a wellness council on June 2, an Animal Boot Camp on July 9th, as well as an annual Farms Day in September. The group also hopes to promote local produce among school managers, who can feel bound by dollar amounts, said Kilkelly.
You can find out more about the Holliston Agricultural Commission, which can be found at www.hollistonagcom.org.
The recently formed, five-person Franklin Agcom has a Facebook page “Franklin Ag Comm,” has “a lot on its plate,” says chairperson Carly Fisher. Right now, the group is working on making sense of local laws regarding chickens and trying to do public outreach. The group can be found at http://www.franklinma.gov/agricultural-commission.
Medway’s Agricultural Committee, with chair Paul Atwood, is fairly active, with one member working on community education and a farmers’ market. The group is working on developing an inventory of local farms to get a handle on the status of farming in Medway.
“We did notice that approximately half of the Chapter 61a land that was in existence 12 years ago is no longer in Chapter 61a,” said Atwood. The group is also working on a “Right to Farm” bylaw proposal for the town. Medway Agricultural Committee has a Facebook page “Medway Agricultural Committee” and can be reached at (508) 533-3204 or online at https://www.townofmedway.org/agricultural-committee.
The groups that met agreed that a “Buy Local” campaign promoting local farmers’ wares would be a good start, and to move forward, they’d share information on what farms produce which goods with their neighboring towns, along with links. The group will likely meet again before the fall.
Kilkelly, who has recently taken on the position of Middlesex County Director of the MAC, said that due to Middlesex County’s unusual geographical shape, he feels inviting members of Norfolk County to the table is important.
“We’re kind of isolated here in Holliston, as is Franklin, Norfolk and Millis and Medway ...so we’ve got to stick together,” said Kilkelly.