Our friend and fellow-farmer, Nick Maravell is the next farmer to fall victim to Montgomery County politics. He has been leasing land in Potomac for the past 31 years, growing an important source of local organic non-GMO corn and soybean seed. And he was just  given under 3 weeks notice that his lease will not be renewed! Is that ethical? Where’s the public process here, its public land (MCPS). We’re steamed, as this is our second farmer friend to have the rug pulled out from under them. Let’s make sure Nick can stay if they aren’t building a school on the property. Which they aren’t. See more below, first Phil’s note to the school board, and Nick’s note full of details.

School Board Members,

I have a small organic farm on the edge of the Montgomery County Ag Reserve, I have fed many families of Montgomery County Residents for the last 12 years.  I work with the Poolesville High School Global Ecology program to provide senior projects and field trips.  I rely on Nick Maravell’s organic GMO FREE seed and feed for my operation.  Nick grows organic seed at the Brickyard road site,  this site allows his seed crops not to be tainted by GMO seeds from other farms, because it is seclusion from other farming operations.   I can tell you from experience, it takes many years to create a site for organic farming, beneficial insects/bacteria… must be cultivated for years to make a successful operation.   A organic farm is not easily relocated like a private ball field might.    Nick has sustainably farmed this site for 31 years, but without ANY warning you have decided not to renew his lease?  The school board knew the county executive wanted this site in June 2010, but still you did not notify this renter of 31 years?   I wonder why the lack of transparency? Who is the secret private partner for the “ball fields” ?.   Why wasn’t Nick notified?  Are these “ball fields” open to the public, or a private enterprise looking to profit from the affluent residents of Potomac ?  Is the private partner funded by a producer of GMO seeds or a GMO lobbying organization?  If you were a neighbor and not a government organization, you would be embarrassed about how this has been handled, each of you on the School board needs to look at this situation as if he/she where human being and do the right thing, do not bow to the pressure from the county executive’s office, maintain the 31 year relationship with this good renter and valuable member of the community.  I will be at the Tuesday board meeting  in support of Nick.

Phil Freedman

House In The Woods Farm


Here is the notice from Nick himself, to his customers (among them, us):

March 4, 2011

Dear Customer/Supporter,


Normally we only contact you when it is time to place an order for our products.  I am sorry to have to contact you now to ask for your help.  I have two locations, one in Potomac and one in Buckeystown, MD.  Just yesterday, I found out that I am about to lose my lease on the Potomac farmland in two weeks.  I still own my house in Potomac which borders on the farmland.


I have been farming organically for 31 years at the Potomac location under a lease from the Montgomery County Public Schools.  This location is being held for future school construction.   My lease will not be renewed, but not because the land is needed for school construction.  It is proposed for ball fields not needed by our local community.


The community has not been given any advance notice or an opportunity to provide input.  Councilman Berliner and Del. Frick have both written to the School Board requesting a delay to make the facts public and allow the community a chance to comment. However, the School Board said it is not required to give public notice, and it plans to proceed with its vote.


In Potomac, I raise organic seed for sale. My beef and poultry products will not be affected.


This action could completely terminate my seed business where I grow non-GMO certified organic corn and soybean seed for sale to other farmers and small seed companies.  This site is unique for organic seed production because it is miles away from conventional farms whose corn and soybean fields could contaminate my seed crops from their insect-borne and airborne GMO pollen.  I maintain heirloom and hard to find organic seeds, and some of this genetic diversity could be lost.  Certified organic farmers are not permitted to use, or sell as organic, GMO seed.


If you would like to support me on this issue, please attend a half hour meeting on Tuesday 10:05-10:35 a.m., March 8 at the Board of Education, Room 114, 850 Hungerford Drive, Rockville MD to show your support for respecting the community’s wishes to leave the site in farmland or make it into parkland to serve the local community.  Please wear a green shirt to show your support and unity.  I may have a few extra green t-shirts on hand.  If you have any extra green shirts, bring them along.


Sample letter:

“I strongly oppose the construction of ball fields on Brickyard Road. Our community previously decided during the Potomac Master Plan process that we did not want anything other than farmland or a park at that site.  Our County needs to increase the number of local farmers, let us not make the situation worse. Please vote against the proposed lease to the County, or vote to delay action until the community has an opportunity to view the facts and voice its concerns.”


Contact me if you have any questions.


Nick Maravell

Nick’s Organic Farm


Montgomery County Board Of Education:

address the entire board: boe@mcpsmd.org


Montgomery County Council:

To address the entire council: county.council@montgomerycountymd.gov


County Executive:

Ike Leggett ocemail@montgomerycountymd.gov


State Delegates:

William Frick Bill.frick@house.state.md.us

Susan Lee Susan.lee@house.state.md.us

Ariana Kelly ariana.kelly@house.state.md.us (301) 858-3642



Brian Frosh Brian.frosh@senate.state.md.us



For more background information:


There is an
agenda item this coming Tuesday, March 8, 2011 at the Board of Education
general business meeting “Lease Agreement-Brickyard Road Site” http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/boe/meetings/agenda/2010-11/2011-0308/030811.pdf


The action item
for the School Board to vote on is presented in a memorandum from
Superintendent Weast to the Board of Education http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/boe/meetings/agenda/2010-11/2011-0308/4.2.5
Brickyard Land Lease.pdf


For more
detailed information about the current situation and its history: http://parentscoalitionmc.blogspot.com/search/label/Brickyard
Middle School site


For recent local
newspaper articles: http://www.gazette.net/stories/03042011/montnew184852_32567.php  and http://connectionnewspapers.com/article.asp?article=348811&paper=70&cat=104




For more on what
happened with these public-private playing fields in Virginia, click here: http://connectionnewspapers.com/article.asp?article=247674&paper=68&cat=104
and http://connectionnewspapers.com/article.asp?article=278583&paper=68&cat=110.


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