MEET A LOCAL FARMER
A strong supporter of the local farming community and organic farmers as a whole, Nick Maravell has been farming in Maryland for more than 30 years. Not only does he have a traditional farm on 165 acres in the rolling hills near Buckeystown, Maryland, Maravell has also worked 20 acres of farmland in suburban Potomac since 1980. Together known as “Nick’s Organic Farm,” this land is all certified organic, and the Buckeystown farm is in the Maryland Farmland Preservation Program. Managing his pastures under rotational grazing, Maravell produces 100% grass-fed Angus beef. He also raises certified organic pastured chickens and turkeys, sells certified organic eggs from his free range hens, and grows edible soybeans, grain soybeans, field corn and barley. He makes various types of hay and raises organic seed stock for heirloom corn, vegetable soybean and cover crop seeds as well. In addition, Nick adds value to his products by processing his own poultry on the farm and by grinding his grains and selling certified organic poultry feed, organic hay and baleage. In years past, he produced mainly vegetables and was involved in community supported agriculture.
With an easy laugh and a friendly demeanor, Maravell has steadfastly worked to bring the sustainable/organic farming community together, while also linking farmers and consumers interested in sustainable and organic methods, all in an effort to bring these standards to the forefront. As such, he was a founding member of the Maryland Organic Food and Farming Association in 1989, the Maryland Small Farm Cooperative in 1996, and Future Harvest/CASA in 1998. Having worked on the boards of all these groups for many years, he remains a member of all three. Maravell has also been involved in the Maryland Certified Organic Growers Cooperative, Chesapeake Organic Producers, the National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture, the Organic Trade Association, the Organic Farming Research Foundation, and others. Over the years Nick has worked on organic policy, including the legislation and regulations establishing the Maryland state and federal organic programs. In addition to his work with the farming community, Maravell has also cooperated with researchers at the University of Maryland and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Beltsville Agricultural Research Center since the early 1980s, conducting ongoing on farm research. Due to his involvement with research, Nick is also called to serve on peer review panels reviewing organic research proposals.
With so much experience behind him, it was not surprising when Maravell was appointed by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in September 2010 to a five-year term on the National Organic Standards Board, starting in January 2011. Charged with making recommendations and defining standards for “certified organic,” the 15-member board includes four organic producers. In his new position, Maravell intends to help ensure that both the letter and the spirit of the organic standards are upheld. "I am concerned that the original intent of the organic law is carried out so consumers have full confidence that the products they are buying are produced in an organic way," he recently told The Frederick News Post. A man like Maravell who has been bucking the system since the 1970s -- when “organic farming was usually viewed as a backward hippie, counter culture cult which would lead to world starvation,” as he puts it – is in a position to meet the challenge.
-- Kristi Bahrenburg Janzen; December 2010