Thunderstorm Fails to Curb Spirit of Nick’s Organic Farm Fundraiser
On Sunday, 100 supporters turned out to “Save Nick’s Organic Farm.”
Nick Maravell’s philosophy and work ethic is simple. “You feed the earth, and the earth feeds you.”
He believes that farming should be sustainable and that the earth should be disturbed as little as possible in the farming process.
Maravell is committed to research, education, the environment, energy conservation, and growing fresh, local, healthy food. His farm is the only organic seed farm in Montgomery County.
However, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett is proposing to replace the farm with soccer fields operated by a private soccer organization. Many Montgomery County residents, Maryland farmers and environmentalists are angry about this decision and have made their opinions known through petitions, letters and protests.
Sunday’s fundraiser not only supported Nick’s Organic Farm, but brought together members of Maryland Organic Food and Farming Association (MOFFA), neighbors, colleagues and friends of the Maravells to raise money and show their support for keeping the farm in its location on Brickyard Road.
Although a thunderstorm hit during the event, everyone stayed on through the rain—and the sun did return. After the downpour, Maravell led an informative tour of his farm and talked about the crops grown on the farm, which include soybeans, red corn, cowpeas, and sorghum. He sells the seed from these crops to farmers from Maryland and neighboring states.
Maravell said the soil on his farm is especially rich in microorganisms and organic matter because it has been organically tended for decades.
"It takes years to establish an organic farm because the soil must be free of synthetic chemicals and fertilizers for at least three years, but also because the soil needs time to develop the organic matter and rich variety of microorganisms that make it healthy," Maravell said.
He employs techniques used by organic famers to build the soil rather than deplete it: crop rotation, covering crops, and using green manure and composting. Maravell added that they do a lot of research with cross-pollination, trying to develop varieties which will naturally adapt to their environment and develop a resistance to disease and insects.
The guests were vocal in their support of Nick’s Organic Farm. Karen DeHaven, who works at the Bethesda Co-op, said that she does not want to see Nick’s Organic Farm turned into soccer fields.
“I’m against losing organic farms in Maryland," DeHaven said. "We must save every farm we can. They are a valuable asset to our community. We need farms producing healthy food to promote healthy eating.”
Alyce Ortuzara, a former board member of MOFFA, said, “I am an advocate of good government—and that is not what we have here."
The county didn't ask citizens for their input, according to Ortuzara, adding that there was no public hearing to determine the impact on the quality of food in Maryland.
"They also did not think about the revenue they will be losing if they lose this farm. Soccer fields don’t produce revenue,” she said.
Supporters Naomi Block and Sarah Shor are both working to organize community support. Block said that the Leggett's decision makes no sense—on any level. She went on to explain that Maravell agreed to use the farm as an education center to teach students as well as politicians and researchers firsthand about local food, agriculture, water, soil and environmental studies.
"Why would the county not realize that this education center would be much more valuable to our school children than another soccer field? It’s just a blatant disregard for the public process,” Block said.
Other activities during the afternoon included a Petting Zoo by Potomac’s Squeals on Wheels, music by Squeeze Bayou, a bluegrass Cajun Band, lots to eat and drink—and plenty of camaraderie.
Judging by the number of supporters who braved the stormy weather, the campaign is on to save Nick’s Organic Farm. Those who would like to join this effort can donate to www.savenicksorganicfarm.org, "like" the farm's Facebook page and/or write letters to their Montgomery County council member and/or to County Executive Isiah Leggett.
Editor's Note: This article has been corrected. In an earlier version of this story, we incorrectly stated the type of organic farm. We regret the error.