Death by Committee
The idea of forming a special commission on agriculture for the Vineyard is on the table for discussion, and while the concept of an advocacy group to promote the interests of farms and farmers is sound and timely and should be a top priority — the last thing the Island needs is another committee.
The Martha’s Vineyard Commission hosted a recent Saturday morning workshop to discuss the idea. Spokesmen from other agricultural commissions around the state spoke about their experiences.
But the Vineyard, which may well have more committees per capita than any community in the commonwealth, already has the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society and the Martha’s Vineyard Commission. Both those organizations have the structure, the membership and the wherewithal to advocate farm issues.
It is wonderful to see small farming experience a renaissance on the Island; indeed, there have been many good bits in the news lately for Island agriculture. The community supported agriculture program has found a stable home and is now positioned to grow. Island grown greens, eggs, beef, lamb, poultry and cheese are all available for sale at outlets around the Island. The outlook for small farms is auspicious. And advocacy is needed: to promote more small agriculture, to propose farm-friendly zoning and bylaws in Island towns, to apply for grant money.
But no more committees, please.
Instead of another committee, what the Vineyard needs is a another year-round cafe, where Islanders can gather for soup made with local vegetables, coffee, laughter and conversation while it’s snowing outside.
Come to think of it, maybe two.