Help save Nick's Organic Farm from government takeover!

Thursday, July 07, 2011 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: Nick's organic farm, government takeover, health news

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(NaturalNews) A 31-year-old heritage organic farm in Maryland is being threatened with takeover by the county in which it is located, and your help is needed to stop these efforts. Nick's Organic Farm is the only farm in Montgomery County, Md., that produces organic seeds, and it is strategically located in a uniquely protected area far away from genetically-modified (GM) crops and other contamination factors. But the county's education board recently voted to turn this special farm into a private soccer field complex, of which there are already hundreds throughout the region.

Nick Maravell of Nick's Organic Farm has been cultivating the special 20-acre plot of clean, protected land in Potomac, Md., for the last three decades. Located just outside of the Washington, D.C., area, Nick's Organic Farm is also one of just a few organic seed-producing farms in the entire Chesapeake region, which makes it an even more invaluable asset to local citizens.

For 30-plus years, Nick's Organic Farm has been supplying the local community with fresh, organic produce, and it has also supplied countless farmers with its uncontaminated, organic seeds. The farm's many years of cultivation have also created nutrient-rich, organic soil, which as some NaturalNews readers already know cannot be created overnight. Soil microorganisms and organic matter take years to develop and mature, and once they become established, they produce healthy soil for growing highly-nutritious, nutrient-dense produce.

In other words, if Nick's Organic Farm is replaced by soccer fields, it will likely be lost forever. The farm cannot simply be moved to another site because it would take years to become established, both in terms of organic certification and soil maturity level. Soccer fields, on the other hand, can be located anywhere without much issue.

With all this in mind, it becomes abundantly clear how foolish it is to destroy the local treasure that is Nick's Organic Farm to develop a soccer complex that could easily be located elsewhere. And yet that is precisely what Montgomery County officials are attempting to do in this case.

Despite the fact that Nick's Organic Farm is responsible for helping start numerous organic farming organizations throughout the state, including the Maryland Organic Food and Farming Association, the Maryland Small Farm Cooperative, and Future Harvest - Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, officials seem to think that soccer fields will be a better fit.

Unfortunately, Nick Maravell does not actually own the land in question -- it is an unused part of Brickyard Road Middle School that the county has been leasing to Maravell for the past several decades. It is a situation that has resulted in numerous benefits for both citizens and local and state farming efforts, but one that the county officials apparently view as inconsequential.

According to reports, the Montgomery County Board of Education (MCBOE) met with Montgomery County Executive Isaiah "Ike" Leggett back in March to discuss the issue of turning the land into soccer fields, and the two groups did so in secret. Shortly thereafter, the board voted to turn Nick's Organic Farm into ball fields, and gave Maravell only two business days notice that his lease would be expiring.

News of this sudden land-use change immediately sent the community into an uproar, especially when they discovered that Leggett's office had been in contact with soccer organizations for several years prior to the surprise vote. Government officials appear to have completely disregarded the appropriate open process by which surplus land use is evaluated, and instead discreetly made plans for the site behind the scenes without public input.

Worse, citizen inquiry into the matter revealed that county officials had succumbed to financial lobbying by Montgomery Soccer Inc. (MSI), a large soccer organization that had been pushing for the development of more soccer fields in the area. The county's actions clearly violated its own master plan rules -- these rules dictate that land-use decisions must be open and transparent, as well as adhere to specific guidelines -- and instead conducted an illicit business deal in secret.

On June 9, a public meeting was held at the Potomac Community Center to discuss the issue, and many local residents spoke out against the county's unethical, and potentially illegal, decision. You can watch a video montage of that meeting here:

Supporters of Nick's Organic Farm have also set up a website to help save it from being destroyed. There, you will find a petition, information about contacting Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, and a place to sign up to help volunteer with the campaign:

The Cornucopia Institute (CI) has also posted a job opening for a local field organizer to help organize activities, coordinate volunteers, and develop strategies to win the fight against Montgomery County and save Nick's Organic Farm. You can learn more about that job opportunity here:

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