Skip to main content

Holliston - Local Town Pages

Agricultural Commission future unknown Lack of participation will affect Farm Day

By Theresa Knapp
The fate of Holliston’s Agricultural Commission is up in the air as members say participation from the town’s 20-plus agricultural businesses is low, almost non-existent. 
AgComm Chairperson Carrie Marsh Loscocco and member Cherie Hafford met with the Select Board on Oct. 11 to discuss the future of the commission. Both women are stepping down. 
Hafford told the board, “The one takeaway I’d love to leave you all with is that the AgComm wants to serve the agricultural community but if there’s no feedback, there’s no engagement, there’s no feeling of ‘What do you need? What do you want? How do we help? What’s the way that we can be supportive?’ - it’s pretty tough to set an agenda or move forward or maintain enthusiasm.” 
Select Board member John Cronin said, “Holliston’s been a farming community for about 300 years, it’s only had an AgComm for about 15 [or] 17 years, and I’m starting to wonder if the farmers in our community really want this.” He suggested the town send a letter to the town’s agricultural businesses directly and ask if they want an Agricultural Commission and ask what they can do to make it a success. “There’s nothing worse than a volunteer feeling worthless and, at this point, I wouldn’t want anybody else to go through something like that.” 
Loscocco said the committee previously distributed a survey but received little response. Town Administrator Travis Ahern said he would draft a letter to be sent to the businesses to gauge their interest. 
Holliston is a Right-to-Farm community and the AgComm provides resources to residents regarding farming, being a good AgComm neighbor, and protecting farmland. They also orchestrate Farm Day, a day attended by residents of Holliston and neighboring towns. 
Hafford said the AgComm has devolved into event planning, grant writing, and marketing, which are not the roles or purpose of the committee. “Somehow there has to be a reconnection, a re-engagement of the agricultural businesses in Holliston with the AgComm.” 
Loscocca added, “I was constantly emailing, phone calls, knocking on people’s doors, and at a certain point, if no one responds or if there’s no interest, you stop knocking.” 
Both Loscocca and Hafford said they would be pleased to continue on the commission, and help promote “agri-tourism,” if they could get buy-in. 
Board member Tina Hein said, “The big question is what is the board’s next step?...The bylaw is very specific and it’s very strong and positive and, for me, it defines the community that I live in. I think it’s a very accurate description of what Holliston values.” 
The board thanked the AgComm members for their work and Ahern will share with them the draft letter to businesses. 
For more information, visit where you can also find a list of the town’s agricultural businesses. 

The town’s Agricultural Commission bylaw (Article XXXVIX) states: 
“This General By-law encourages the pursuit of agriculture, promotes agriculture-based economic opportunities, and protects farmlands within the Town of Holliston by allowing agricultural uses and related activities to function with minimal conflict with abutters and Town agencies.”