Dear County Executive Leggett, I would like to urge you to establish a County Food and Agriculture Policy Council, including Nick’s Organic Farm (NOF) as an agricultural education anchor in the down-County area (located on the Board of Education land along Brickyard Road in Potomac). As you know, the 20-acre plot that has been farmed by NOF for decades is tentatively slated to become soccer fields. However, the public interest would be much better served by allowing the organic farm to continue. This vision for the land would fit in well with the County’s current efforts to advance food and agriculture policy through the Green Economy Task Force, the Small Farm Incubator Initiative, the Sustainable Community Food Initiative, and the long tradition of preserving agriculture in the County as exemplified in the Agricultural Reserve. Nick’s Organic Farm is a valuable asset to the community for many reasons: ·NOF is a successful, long-established model for agriculture on the urban fringe, the type of farm that is now increasingly gaining attention internationally as the farm-of-the-future, because it can help ensure the safety, availability and affordability of our food as populations rise and transportation/fuel costs increase; ·This site is a highly unusual research tool, because the soil has been organically-tended for more than three decades, fostering the organic matter and microorganisms that are key to supporting healthy plants; ·It is uniquely isolated from other farms generating genetically modified (GMO) pollen, so it can produce organic GMO-free seed that is especially adapted to the local climate and weather conditions, a highly unusual resource; ·NOF’s seed grown at the Brickyard Road plot provides the basis for many other farmers’ operations in the county, state and region; this land is the only organic seed farm in Montgomery County, amid very few organic seed farms in the whole State of Maryland; ·If NOF stops growing the special heirloom and open-pollinated seed that it currently does at the Brickyard Road plot, our community would likely lose valuable biodiversity in our plant gene pool; ·As an organic farm, NOF by definition does not utilize chemical fertilizers and synthetic pesticides and herbicides, so it does not contaminate the soil, air or water; rather it increases the quality of these natural resources—especially pertinent here since this plot of land is so close to the Potomac River; ·Organic farmland also adds to the quality of life of the community, because it contributes to carbon sequestration, and helps to minimize run-off and soil erosion; ·Keeping farmland at this site does not require any budgetary outlays on the part of the County, while it maintains the status quo of the land in pristine condition, in case the Board of Education needs it for a school in the future; ·Having been tended by a nationally renowned organic farmer who is a current member of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), this site would be a perfect location for agricultural education for public school children and adults, in the tradition of the Ag Reserve and the vision of the USDA “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative. ·The site could also be used as a mentoring and incubator facility for the next generation of farmers. Please consider this proposal to create a Food and Agriculture Policy Council and to utilize this unique farm asset for the benefit of all the Montgomery County residents. Sincerely, YOUR NAME
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