WILLIAMSTOWN -- The town's Agricultural Commission has accomplished much since being reborn a little more than year ago.
On Sunday, Chairwoman Beth Phelps, of Sweet Brook Farm, said the commission has created a website, begun work on a brochure highlighting local farms and started working with other town boards on agricultural issues.
"We're thinking about ways to get the community more excited about farming," Phelps said.
The commission, created by a warrant article at the 2006 annual town meeting, saw lacking membership for several years. That changed in the spring of 2012, when Selectmen approved two new members, giving the commission a full five-member board.
Along with Phelps, Andrew Bernardy, Lisa DeMayo, Richard Haley, Jr., and Kimball "Kim" Wells also serve on the board. Sarah Gardner and Leslie Reed-Evans serve as alternates.
The commission's website lists the its purpose, helpful links, and ways people can support agriculture in town.
A brochure being created by a high school volunteer is in this works this summer, Phelps said.
"We also have an opinion statement on the Lowry situation, as one of our goals is to conserve farmland," she said.
The "Lowry situation" involves a 30-acre parcel on Stratton Road, which is being considered as a site for affordable housing, is prime farmland, she said, referring to a designation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The commission has taken the position that Williamstown has a need for more affordable housing, and that town officials should concentrate on developing town owned properties not being used for agriculture.
"It is the position of the [commission] that prime agricultural land should be considered for development only as a last resort, after all other options have been implemented to their fullest potential," the document states.
Members were assigned to attend meetings of certain boards as liaisons, Phelps said, as a way to answer questions about the commission and farming.
The commission accomplished a goal to erect road signs displaying the town's Right to Farm status, Phelps said. While Massachusetts residents have this right, nuisance lawsuits around the state have made it difficult for some, she explained.
"People move in next to a farm, and they don't like the smell of the pigs next door or the smell of the manure being spread," she said. "Communities adopt that law into their bylaws, so they can show they support agriculture."
Phelps said a related goal of the commission is working with real estate agents to let new residents know that agricultural activity does occur. The commission would like to create a welcome kit for people buying homes, she said, containing a map of local farms and even coupons.
The commission will also hold its annual pot luck farmers dinner this fall, Phelps said, hosted by the Williamstown Grange at Sheep Hill.
To reach Edward Damon, email