Saturday, July 3, 2021

Franklin Annual Report - 2020: Franklin Agricultural Commission


The Franklin Agricultural Commission was officially established in 2018 after a group of residents who were interested in promoting local agriculture organized a steering committee to find most effective way to promote and sustain our local agriculture and farms. Working with the Town Administration and Town Council the AgCom was formed with the mission to preserve, revitalize, and sustain the Franklin agricultural industry and its lands: encourage the pursuit of agriculture, promote agricultural- based economic opportunities, and protect farmland. The Agricultural Commission is a 5-person appointed commission with 2 associate members. In 2020 we welcomed new Associate Member CJ Koshivas from Fairmount Fruit Farm.

Although the Covid 19 Pandemic greatly curtailed our efforts in 2020, the AgCom has maintained an active presense in the community. We have kept our AgCom page on the Town of Franklin website up to date with information about our local farms and other initiatives. Our Facebook Page is also active in keeping the public aware of what is going on in our Franklin Farm Community.   On the Facebook page we feature videos and pictures of local farms and other agricultural events and keep the public aware of what is happening and how they can support our local agricultural community.

Early in the Pandemic we reached out to local farms to see if there was any way that we could offer them assistance. Our farm community banded together to support each other and the citizens of Franklin working to make healthy and local food easily available. Fairmount Fruit Farm brought in new local vendors and worked hard with a curbside pick up and delivery program. Local citizens were key in supporting these farms and we hope that these partnerships and local interest in farms will continue to grow stronger in the future.

The pandemic has paused the expansion of our Pollinator Pasture project, but we are ready to go when it is safe to work in groups again! With the wide and often discriminate use of pesticides in our society, bee populations have been declining. Pollinators are vital to our food supply and our Pollinator Pastures are a no spray, no mow area planted with native bee friendly plants where pollinators can feed without worry. The project has been very well received and we are excited to expand to additional sites, work with our schools on adding Pollinator Pastures to some of the school grounds, and to add a certification for private Pollinator Pastures so residents can help the bees at their homes too.

In an effort to educate the public and reduce the use of pesticides in the community we have also worked with the DPW to create an opt out list of sidewalk glyphosate spraying. We were excited to add additional properties to our original list of 180 properties that opted out of DPW glyphosate spraying. We will continue to work with the Town and DPW to find healthier and more environmentally friendly ways to keep the Town of Franklin looking nice in the coming year.
Saving our remaining Farmland and Open Space are important to the AgCom. We continue to work with the Town Administrator, members of the Town Council, SNETT, Metacomet Land Trust, and concerned citizens to find ways to conserve and preserve the open lands in Franklin. We are hopeful that the passing of the CPA will assist in this endeavor and look forward to working with the CPC committee to improve the Town of Franklin.

Members of the AgCom have been active in advocating for Agriculture both in town and statewide. We are a member of the Massachusetts Association of Agricultural Commissions (MAAC) and have attended MAAC annual meeting and Boot Camps on a variety of agriculture related issues. We have quarterly meetings with AgComs from surrounding towns and work with them to support and promote our agricultural industry regionally.

Although the Covid 19 Pandemic has made it more challenging to meet some of our goals, the Agricultural Commission is excited for the future. We have created some great programs that we will continue to build upon and grow and are grateful to have increased interest and awareness of our local farms. We have big plans and invite the citizens of Franklin to join us on our mission to keep our families and our environment healthy and to increase the visibility and viability of our local Franklin Farms and help us introduce farming to the next generation.

The full Annual Report for 2020 can be found online

Prior Annual Reports can be found online

Franklin Annual Report - 2020: Agricultural Commission
Franklin Annual Report - 2020:  Agricultural Commission 

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