The local Agricultural and Open Space and Recreation Commissions is planning a new community agriculture and conservation program following the $550,000 purchase of 32 acre farmland in Holliston.
In late 2014, the Open Space Commission moved to purchase the property with the intention of adding new conservation and recreation land to an area of town otherwise without, according to Justin Brown, board member of the Agricultural Commission. Located at 34 Rogers Road, right on the Holliston-Sherborn line, the property has lots of potential for community programs, especially because it is located only about a mile from the elementary and middle schools.
“We do hope the schools will be involved,” said Brown. But the program isn’t just going to be aimed at students or people interested in farming. “Bird lovers, people who like hiking, and people who like trees. It’s not just for certain people,” he said, laughing.
According to Brown, the community center is planning to provide agricultural education and resources, and nature trails. The planning is in its infancy, as the Commissions need to prepare the land for their new community center, and Brown went on to say the details of what the programs could involve are not fully developed yet.
“We need to take time and set the foundation right,” Brown said, “but we have a dedicated team that has done well on other projects.”
Because the idea is so new, heavy advertising hasn’t come into play yet. However, Holliston town historian, Joanne Hulbert, has heard about it and is excited for the potential of a new agricultural program, especially because of Holliston’s history in farming.
“Farming was the basic way in order to exist… even if you had another occupation,” said Hulbert of the early days of Holliston. She cited such early farmers as Jasper Adams, who used Holliston land to farm in the mid 1600’s, even before it was officially settled. She talked more about the evolution of farming in Holliston through the years, explaining its path leaving sustenance farming and into the modern world of agriculture.
“I think it’s a wonderful thing,” said Hulbert of the Serocki farm program. She said the community center could be an opportunity to “bring some of these stories out.”
However, the potential of a museum of sorts, hinges on the ability of the Commissions to keep the existing house on the property.
“The letter of the law says when you purchase open space for open space, there can’t be a dwelling,” said Brown. “Everybody wants the house to stay,” he said, the issue is relabeling what was previously the Serocki family home.
According to Patrick Kilkelly, Agricultural Commission board member, the house has lots of potential.
“We want to use it as an education center… a place we can hold classes and events,” said Kilkelly. He said the house was only 50 years old and in “average condition.”
How exactly they will get the house relabeled has yet to be determined, but, Kilkelly is sure they will be able to turn it around.
“We are very confident that we will be able to make this work,” he said.
Kilkelly hopes to see the program going into more detailed levels of planning in the next dix months.
When asked about their interest level, the answers of Holliston High School students varied.
“I would be interested in learning about the animal aspects of the farm,” said sophomore Lindsey Howland. “I’ve taken care of puppies but not farming animals.”
Others said they were “not interested,” such as junior Hunter Tompkins.
“I’m not a very naturalistic person,” said Tompkins, “It’s not really my thing.”
The reception of the program by the public is yet to be determined, though, and will develop as the project progresses in the coming months.
“I hope it’s very successful,” said Brown on the program as a whole. He hopes that the program will eventually attract anyone from “9 days to 99 years old.”