Update: 12/15/11: Progress! The Montgomery Board of Education granted Nick's Organic Farm a lease extension, allowing the farm to stay where it is until August of 2012. Initially, the BOE said that Nick Maravell must vacate the farmland by January 1, 2012. Nick Maravell and his supporters will keep pushing until Nick's Organic Farm is allowed to stay indefinitely.
Update 11/1/11: Partial Victory! A Food Policy Council to advocate for a just and healthy food system in Montgomery County is moving forward. The advisory board has been established, and the council has secured $38,000 in funding.
BUT: We are still fighting to Save Nick’s Organic Farm so it can continue to produce GMO-free seed, be a model for urban agriculture, and host a hub for agricultural education. We are continuing to build individual and organizational support to save this educational gem, but we only have two months to protect this farm! Thanks for your support!
Nick's Organic Farm has leased County land held for an eventual middle school in Montgomery County Maryland for the past 30 years. Farmers from all over the region rely on Nick's certified organic feed and seed for their organic operations.
On March 7, 2011, Nick and the community at large were given 2-weeks notice that the land would become Soccer Fields. There have still been no public hearings on this decision.
Many environmental, agriculture and local food organizations have banded together to ask Montgomery County's Executive, Ike Leggett, to form a Food Policy Council that will use Nick's Organic Farm as an anchor for agricultural and food education.
A Food Policy Council would fit perfectly with the County's current efforts to strengthen the local food system; including the Food Innovation Hub, and of course the nationally renowned Agricultural Reserve.
We have to act quickly, the County is moving ahead on soccer field construction on this site. Please join the organizations calling for a Food Education center at Brickyard Farm by signing the petition to Executive Leggett. The public should have a voice in the future of the Brickyard property...and the health of their local food system.
For more info as this issue evolves- visit the Brickyard Blog
The timeliness of this opportunity is related to many factors now coalescing in the region and Montgomery County. We believe that one of those factors is the future of Nick’s Organic Farm in Potomac, which is now tentatively slated to be converted into soccer fields. Besides its unique isolation from other farms generating GMO pollen, it could become a down County anchor for agricultural education for school children and adults that could unite the tradition of the Ag Reserve with the emerging models of a local and regional food and agriculture system—drawing upon urban fringe and urban agriculture, small farm direct marketing, environmentally friendly farming techniques, and food security through local production and job creation.
If the lease on this farm were amended to permit educational, as well as agricultural, activities, this site could become part of a cooperation with appropriate non-profit organizations in the County and in the region to become an ideal educational opportunity, reaching out to demonstrate the origin of food, the connection of local food to food safety and security, the USDA “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative, as well as becoming a mentoring and incubator facility for the next generation of farmers.
With no or little public expense, and with its existing ties to the research community and private non-profits, Nick’s Organic Farm could build on the public value it already brings to the County. This farm is already up and running with a 30 year track record—a known quantity requiring no lead time to develop. The organically-tended soil has had more than three decades to foster the organic matter and microorganisms that are key to supporting healthy plants.
As such, this land is not only a model for how organic farming can exist on the urban fringe, it is also a highly unusual research tool given its 30 years of organic cultivation. It also carries a unique history that is significant for people in the County and State as well as at the national level.
I urge you to consider the opportunity before you to strengthen our local food system, public health and economy.