Supporters boost feasibility for ag center
By MICHEL ELBEN
ROCKVILLE, Md. — Supporters of Nick’s Organic Farm testified Dec. 6 at the Montgomery County Board of Education meeting that an education center on the school board’s land along Brickyard Road in Potomac would be more beneficial to the county’s children than another soccer field.
Farmer Nick Maravell has leased and worked the land on Brickyard Road for 30 years.
Last spring the Montgomery County Board of Education created a new lease with the county for that site to build private pay-to-play soccer fields.
Despite growing public objection, the soccer field project is still in progress.
“As soon as it became apparent in March that there were no restrictions to the use of the land, the only natural thing to do was to suggest using the land as an ag education center and sharing what it can teach,” said Maravell.
Maryland residents have gotten behind Maravell’s idea and created a non-profit organization to keep the land in agriculture.
“For over 30 years, the Board of Education has designated space for what has become the county’s only certified organic farm,” said Ilene Freedman, farmer and environmental educator from Adamstown, Md. “Here is your opportunity to make that investment shine. Save the farm and watch it become a hub for inclusive environmental education for all your students—they will connect to their food sources, community and the land.”
Sara Shor, campaign organizer of Save Nick’s Organic Farm, said the group hopes to establish an ag education center that will provide opportunities for children and adults to work collaboratively.
Rebeca Rodriguez, student at Montgomery College and president of the Montgomery College Green Club said: “This issue caught the Green Club’s attention because, as students, we understand that this is not only a great source of education, but it is the only organic seed farm in the county.
“This farm is a gem that has been underestimated, but it is a necessity, because it provides sustainable food sources and positive environmental impacts,” she added.
“It’s possible to find a win-win solution,” said Sabine Dohrn, a concerned parent from Potomac, Md. “We can find a way to keep the farm and find another place to put the soccer field. Respectfully, I believe the Board should grasp the opportunity to use ag education, not put asphalt on very fertile ground.”
Maravell told The Delmarva Farmer after the meeting that he was excited about the amount of public support they have received.
“Many different people from many different perspectives provided their feedback today,” Maravell said. “They all know we have an educational asset to protect.”
Shor said she expects the Montgomery County BOE to likely make a decision on Dec. 15. She said she is encouraging Montgomery County residents to call or write to the members to show their support for the farm and an educational center.
The Chesapeake Sustainability Institute, the tax-deductible 501c3, is already working to develop the educational center in the event that the motion is passed.