Monday, March 7, 2011

Montgomery Victory Gardens on sudden Brickyard Road Middle School site transfer

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE;Monday, March 7, 2011
Contact:  Gordon Clark at 301-801-3406

MCPS and County Executive to Turn
Organic Farm Into Ball Fields?

Action Coming Without Public Comment, Violates Open Meeting Act

Rockville, MD - The Montgomery County Public School System Board of Education will vote tomorrow on whether or not to discontinue the lease of MCPS land to farmer Nick Maravella, and to sell the land to Montgomery County for the construction of ball fields.

Nick Maravella has farmed the MCPS-leased land, near Potomac, Maryland, for 31 years, and was given less than three weeks notice of the Board of Education's intent to discontinue the lease.  Nick's Organic Farm is one of the few organic farms in Montgomery County, and specializes in producing organic, non-GMO corn and soybean seed, which is used by local farmers and small companies.

"This would be an outrageous decision by a school system and county government that claim to value farmers and farming," said Gordon Clark, Project Director of Montgomery Victory Gardens.  "Can any of these officials say with a straight face that another ball field is more important to our county than preserving one of our few organic farms - one that has been in operation for over 30 years and which produces organic seed for local use?  Perhaps this is why they are rushing this decision through without any public or community comment."

In a memorandum released on March 3, 2011, MCPS Superintendent Jerry Weast refers to the Board of Education being "briefed" in May and June of 2010 on the plan, but Board of Education minutes do not reflect any such discussions. The Montgomery County Parent's Coalition has filed a complaint with the Maryland Open Meetings Act Compliance Board for an Opinion, claiming that the MCPS Board of Education has violated the Maryland Open Meetings Act.

Montgomery Victory Gardens is working with the Montgomery Countryside Alliance, Nick's Organic Farm and other community groups to stop the proposed destruction of the farm, and is currently soliciting public comments to be forwarded to the Board of Education before its vote on Tuesday, March 8.

"This is not just about Nick's Organic Farm, but about the future of farming in Montgomery County," added Mr. Clark, "If longstanding farmers can be treated this way, what are the chances that new farmers are going to want to establish their practice here in Montgomery County?"

1 comment:

  1. The meeting was troubling in that it seemed the minds of the board members seemed to be made up before it began. But these deals happen all the time with no notice and maze of co.fusion to sift through. It is pretty much impossible when given 2 business days to prepare. I would think MDA and USDA would show some support if they had a chance.


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