Governor O'Malley and Wendell Berry Support the Farm!

Gov. O’Malley: Destroying Brickyard Farm “Big Mistake”

Aug. 14, 2012, Potomac, MD—Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley says destroying the farm and education center on school land along Brickyard Road in Potomac would be a “big mistake.” Governor O’Malley’s statement comes just 2 days before Montgomery County, MD, is set to turn over the unique land, home to Brickyard Educational Farm and Nick’s Organic Farm, a 32-year-old organic seed farm, to develop private soccer fields and parking lots.

“I believe we are about to make a big mistake in destroying acres of productive farmland and its soils which could be a priceless asset to the education, health, and well-being of generations of Montgomery students. Specifically, I am writing in regards to Brickyard Educational Farm,” O’Malley says in a letter to Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and Board of Education President Shirley Brandman. “Rather than moving our State backwards through this destructive policy choice, Montgomery County can and should be a leader. The vital connection between our farms, the food we eat, and our children’s future has never been more important than it is right now.” (Full Letter Here)

Sophia Maravell, farmer and co-founder of Brickyard Educational Farm, says, “We hope the Governor’s tremendous support for Brickyard Educational Farm will convince Montgomery County leaders to save this precious resource. It provides a very special opportunity to teach about food and the environment through farm-to-school field trips and a farmer training program.” Maravell, whose father Nick Maravell ran the organic farm on the 20-acre parcel for more than the last three decades, began the educational center at the beginning of 2012. “County leaders still have a chance to save this agricultural treasure and use it as a learning tool,” she says.

Governor O’Malley wrote his letter after local and national organizations appealed to him in their own letter to save the land for education through Brickyard Educational Farm. These organizations included: Rodale Institute, Audubon Naturalist Society, Green America, DC Farm to School, Growing Power, growingSoul, Slow Food DC, Maryland and Montgomery County Sierra Clubs, Maryland No Child Left Inside Coalition, Environment Maryland, Maryland Public Interest Research Group, Maryland Coastal Bays Program and more. (See attachment.)

World-renowned author and farmer Wendell Berry, as well as more than 55,000 petition signers, have also come out in favor of keeping the farm.

Brickyard Educational Farm would dovetail with many other important initiatives already taking place in Maryland, including the “No Child Left Inside” initiative, the Jane Lawton Farm to School Act, commitments to sustainable agriculture and the health of the Chesapeake Bay. The Farm brings together farm education programs for children and training programs for beginning farmers, and integrates sustainable, organic, and environmentally responsible farming practices. It is also working with community stakeholders to bring significant quantities of fresh produce from the farm directly to public school cafeterias, as outlined in the Farm to School Act.

Attachments: Governor O’Malley’s letter, letter from organizations, Wendell Berry letter.

Brickyard Educational Farm (www.brickyardeducationalfarm.org) is a farm education program in Potomac, located on school land, that gives children the opportunity for a hands-on approach to learning about local and sustainable food and farming, and the soil, water, environment and biodiversity that sustains us.  In its first year, Brickyard Educational Farm has already served more than 1,500 Montgomery County children, and hopes to serve thousands more in the years to come. The farm also has plans to develop farmer training programs. Crops this year include kale, chard, potatoes, carrots, peas, radishes, snap beans, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, and corn which are given back to the school children who visit the farm. Organic seed-saving and production is also ongoing and would continue as a learning tool.

Save Nick’s Organic Farm (www.savenicksorganicfarm.org) is a non-profit organization founded by Marylanders aiming to save the organic farm that has been the steward of the school land  along Brickyard Road in Potomac for more than 30 years. Save Nick’s Organic Farm seeks a down-County educational anchor at the site, which would provide opportunities for school children and adults to learn about local and sustainable food and agriculture.

Nick’s Organic Farm LLC (www.nicksorganicfarm.com) has certified organic operations in Potomac and Buckeystown, MD, producing row crops, grass-based livestock, vegetables, seed, and animal feed. Farming organically since 1979, Nick Maravell, its owner, is nationally recognized and has been called on to testify at the federal and state levels. He has been active in national and state development of organic legislation and standards, organic research priorities, and organic marketing issues. Last year, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack appointed Maravell to serve on the National Organic Standards Board, a panel of unpaid experts established by Congress to set organic industry policy.

Personal Letter of endorsement from Wendell Berry