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Speak Out: Should O'Malley Have Sided Against Montgomery County Officials?

Was it appropriate for the governor to get involved in a local controversy over an organic farm?

A local controversy got some high profile attention Tuesday when Gov. Martin O’Malley weighed in on whether Nick's Organic Farm in Potomac should be converted into soccer fields.

O’Malley came out in favor of the farm and against Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and the Montgomery County School Board, which want the acreage to be used as playing fields.

O'Malley's  added fuel to what already has been an intense conflict between county residents and county leaders.

O’Malley wrote the letter in response to an Aug. 6 meeting with farm supporters, including the Maravell family, which operates the farm.

The governor’s comments made national headlines.

The Huffington Post’s headline was: “Martin O'Malley Weighs In On Intense Garden Fight.” Other news organizations appeared to consider the state response a definite blow to the county’s hardball defense of the soccer field project.

What do you think of the governor’s comments? Should he have gotten involved?

Greg August 16, 2012 at 01:09 PM
Yes, absolutely. I say Bravo for Martin O'Malley for stepping up to the plate on this one. Potomac is a small community that has worked to maintain it's semi 'rural' feel and appeal. The farm is a much better choice for our community than the 'other option'.
Nancy Gibson August 16, 2012 at 02:06 PM
I am so happy about the Governor's support of the farm. The county plan to preserve farmland is right on target and should not be hijacked by the very wealthy soccer community. There are other fields-like the Germantown soccerplex. Nick's farm is iconic in the Potomac area and a great model for healthy eating and farming practices.
organic friend August 16, 2012 at 03:35 PM
I think the governor gets it. He understands the opportunity here for teaching both children and the next generation of farmers about organic farming, possibly establising an educational model of the nation. He also seems to understand the value of bringing healthy foods into the schools and his support here sends a message of better nutrition for our children. Finally, I beleive that the govenor understands that growing organic heritage seedstock uncontaminated by GMO is a vital role for this farm and increasingly needed as droughs and other extreme weather assault our crops. The govenor's nuanced and farsighted understanding clearly sets support of the Brickyard Educational Farm way above the petty squabbles of local politics.
Charles August 16, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Not only was O'Malley's intervention justified, it was essential. He put the organic farm in the larger state and national picture. He understands the unique educational nature of this farm and its heritage seed production. He sees what local officials pretend not to see. He recognizes that to lose a farm where the soil has been carefully cultivated organically for over 30 years would be a disaster for everyone. When will the county wake up to the prize that this heritage seed farm represents for our children and grandchildren? Chuck
Charles August 16, 2012 at 03:41 PM
O'Malley deserves high praise.
Janis August 16, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Howard County is wondering why they got artificial turf fields from the Governor when they didn't request them. Organic for Montgomery County, Plastic for Howard County?
Opinion 1 August 16, 2012 at 05:08 PM
I do not think he should have become involved. This is our community and our decision. I see merit in both sides of the farm arguement. We need to decide what we want to do in our own community. There is no way for everyone to win in this situation. If O'Malley wants to help our community give us more resources. The state currently takes more than they give to our community.
Barbara Hoover August 16, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Governor O'Malley's letter was timely and appropriate. His letter clearly recognizes the increasingly critical role that small, local farms play in the protection of our State and National food supply. At the same time, the Governor recognized the benefit to Montgomery County students and future farmers, of having a resource to learn about the food chain and organic farming practices. Most of the US is experiencing a terrible drought this year. I stood in Nick's Farm yesterday and saw 8 foot tall corn and tall, healthy soy. Organic farms withstand severe weather conditions better than conventional farms, sometimes yielding 70-90% more than conventional farms during droughts. Organic farms are more profitable in the drier states of the United States, likely due to their superior drought performance. Organic farms survive hurricane damage much better, retaining 20 to 40% more topsoil and smaller economic losses at highly significant levels than their neighbors. While, many of the elected officials in Montgomery County have been focused on providing soccer fields that are not needed at the expense of community harmony and legally mandated transparency, Governor O'Mally has elevated the conversation to recognize the loss to future generations should Nick's Farm loose out to corporate soccer interests.
Another disgruntled resident of MoCo August 16, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Governor O'Malley's letter was the best! Why shouldn't he go against a bonehead decision made by Isiah Leggett and the puppets of the BOE?
B. Dahan August 17, 2012 at 03:18 PM
I agree that Governor O'Malley did the right thing in taking a stand for organic farming and the local community. I agree totally with Ms. Hoovers points and disagree with Opinion 1 - its time our Governor does take a look at local issues - we are the constituents!
Richard Rice August 20, 2012 at 05:01 PM
I totally agree w/Governor O'Malley's decisicion. If we continue to keep wanting to grow Montgomery County into a concrete and asphalt jungle we lose everything in terms of what our culture was and hopefully will continue to be!!!
TJR September 21, 2012 at 11:17 PM
This argument to save Nick's Farm could be the biggest joke that I've ever witnessed. Do you think this fight is about organic this or organic that? About the rural feel and the fabricated educational opportunity? Sorry to disappoint you but it's about traffic. I imagine that about 27,000 of the 28,000 supporters of saving the farm live in the affected neighborhoods. Having lived a mile from the farm for 35 years or so I can tell you that no one knew it was there or supported it. Debate the topic all you want but let's not kid ourselves about the real issue - traffic.

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