Update: Temporary Reprieve for Nick’s Organic Farm
Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett did little to gain support for the soccer fields he wants to put in place of Nick Maravell’s 30-year-old organic farm when he dismissed the community’s wishes in an April 2012 interview with ABC 7 News:
It’s not left up to the community that lives there to decide whether or not they want something in their community. It’s a broader community perspective.
Some area residents have suggested $7,500 in campaign contributions from the Montgomery Soccer board have influenced his thinking, a charge Leggett denies. What is certain is that the County Executive is determined to oust the farm and replace it with soccer fields.
Fortunately, Care2 readers, organic agriculture supporters, and friends of Nick’s Organic Farm have an ally in fighting for the farm: Maryland’s Governor Martin O’Malley. He sent a strongly worded letter to Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and County Board of Education President Shirley Brandman.vAside from coming out strongly in favor of preserving the farm and its training arm, Brickyard Educational Farm, O’Malley wrote:
I believe we are about to make a big mistake in destroying acres of a productive organic farmland and its soils which could be a priceless asset to the education, health, and well-being of generations of Montgomery students.
The letter, dated April 12th, was good news for the farm’s supporters. On April 14th they received another boost. The Washington Post reported:
A Maryland circuit court judge agreed this afternoon to stay the school board’s decision to lease the land to Montgomery County for development into soccer fields. County officials had hoped to enter the property on Thursday to start digging holes and testing the soil.
The stay is a temporary reprieve, until a full judicial review can be completed. Judge Greenberg did not rule on whether or not Maravell has a right to continue farming the land. The Washington Post article points out the school board could still attempt to oust him through the tenant court.
Isiah Leggett wants those soccer fields and points out the county offered Maravell other land two years ago. Nick Maravell is equally adamant and counters the land is inferior to what he is currently farming.
Anyone who has farmed or gardened knows how much time, knowledge and hard work it takes to coax the best harvest out of a patch of land. Nick’s Organic Farm has a 30-year track record with the soil. The farm is a priceless educational resource at a time when the loss of connection to the land has led us down a destructive path.
The struggle is far from over. Nick’s Organic Farm still needs your help. Please sign the petition below.
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Photo taken at Brickyard Educational Farm by Mollie Chang