From: "Meredith McKittrick"
Cc: "county council" <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Wednesday, March 9, 2011 6:03:29 PM
Subject: Nick's Organic Farm
To the members of the Board of Education:
I am writing to express my dismay both with the decision regarding the
lease on Nick's Organic Farm in Potomac and with the process by which
the decision was made.
I am a professor who teaches (among other things) the history of
agriculture and sustainable farming at Georgetown, as well as a former
resident of Montgomery County and an avid customer and fan of Nick
Maravel, one of the real gems in the regional sustainable farming
community. I brought students to Nick's Buckeystown farm last semester
and they were in awe of his deep knowledge and experience of farming.
The decision to use this land, farmed organically for 30 years (as far
as I know, unparalleled in the DC area and a major achievement), for
sports fields is a short-sighted one that will detract from the
community. I have school-aged children who play soccer; I understand
the value of and need for sports fields. But there are more and less
appropriate places for them when they are needed. I would wager that in
its soil fertility, biodiversity, and overall ecological health, this
land is now unlike any other single parcel of land within a 50-mile
radius of DC. It will be murdered within two years of its conversion to
sports fields - three decades of irreplaceable work undone in a moment.
So the Board has just committed what is basically an environmental
crime. But in addition, the public comment period was outrageously
short. This feels like a rushed process, not one designed to truly
solicit public input and to involve the community in decisions about how
its resources are used.
There is, sadly, precedent for this. I used to be a resident of North
Woodside and the handling of the old middle school, which was leased to
Yeshiva for 99 years at fire-sale prices (in a neighborhood where the
population of children was rapidly growing) was another example of
less-than-transparent wheeling and dealing that basically ignored
community input and permanently appropriated (for all intents and
purposes) a valuable community resource in the interests of short-term
solutions. It's a pity that in the eight or so years since that debacle
played out, things haven't changed much in Montgomery County.
Nick's Potomac Farm is an irreplaceable gem for the local community, the
sustainable farming community, people who enjoy buying local and
humanely raised food, and a national community of farmers struggling to
find sources of certified organic seed. It's a shame that Montgomery
County's school board didn't trouble itself to learn more about what
remarkable things were taking place on that land before deciding to
terminate the lease with Nick Maravel. And shame on the members who
voted to lease a public resource like this to the County for soccer
fields without appropriate hearings and public debate.
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