Nick’s Organic Farm encompasses a 165-acre certified organic farm near scenic Buckeystown, Maryland, in the fertile Frederick Valley, which we purchased about 20 years ago, and our home plus a few acres in suburban Potomac, Maryland.
From 1980 to 2012, we also organically farmed a 20-acre plot of land leased from Montgomery County public schools adjacent to our home along Brickyard Road, but that land has now reverted to the school system and currently is not being used for any purpose. In 2012 the site was operated as the Brickyard Educational Farm by our daughter Sophia Maravell. For more information about our ongoing efforts to preserve this educational resource that has been in organic production for over thirty years, go to www.savethissoil.org.
We aim to minimize off-farm inputs through our diversified and integrated farming system, which combines animals under management intensive grazing and an 8-12 year crop rotation to raise vegetables, hay, pastures, grains, seed and livestock. Our practices are designed to constantly improve the quality of our soils—which for us is the basis of our organic farming system.
We raise Black Angus cattle, chicken, turkey and eggs, grains and other crops at our farm near Buckeystown. Our 100% grass-fed cattle receive certified organic pasture, certified organic hay (in winter), water and mineral salts mixed with sea kelp, but never grain. The cattle are not fed any hormones, antibiotics or animal products.
We grow our own grain and grind our own organic poultry feed from organic grain we grow and occasionally buy from other local organic farms. Our poultry receive this certified organic feed and graze on our organic pastures. We also sell our certified organic poultry feed to other organic farmers and to customers for their personal flocks.
From the start in 1979, we have been committed to a constant improvement in our organic farming methods. We have conducted on-farm research with federal, state and non-profit agencies to refine our organic practices. With the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), we conducted research to improve our organic crops and to breed and manage our herd so that it has maximum natural resistance to disease without the use of synthetic chemicals. We have also participated in a university study documenting the nutritional advantages of grass-fed beef.
About Nick Maravell:
In 1979 Nick started organic farming on a commercial basis on rented land in Purcelville, VA, having experimented first on a smaller scale for almost a decade. Concerned about the soil, environment, energy conservation, and fresh, local, healthy food, he began selling vegetables he grew on small rented plots of land to restaurants, local food coops, and at farmers markets. Nick and his wife, artist Tory Cowles, were able to purchase their own farm near Buckeystown in the 1990s. (Go to Tory’s website here: www.torycowles.com.)
Committed to developing local and regional food systems, Nick has helped establish and operate several farmer cooperatives. He is also active in many local, state and national organizations dedicated to organic and sustainable agriculture. He is a founding member of the Maryland Organic Food and Farming Association (MOFFA), the Maryland Small Farm Cooperative, and Future Harvest-Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture (Future Harvest-CASA). Nick has also worked closely with other farmers and scientists at the Organic Farming Research Foundation to publish the National Organic Research Agenda.
Nick is called upon as a speaker, is quoted in the press, has appeared on local and national media, and has been called to testify on organic issues at both the state and federal levels. Because of his interest in developing more organic research and his knowledge of organic farming methods, Nick also serves on peer review panels to evaluate organic research grant proposals.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack appointed Nick to a five year term as a member of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) starting in January 2011. Nick has also been recognized for his efforts to advance organic farming, recently receiving the “Spirit of Organic Award” from Natural Foods Merchandiser magazine and the Organic Farming Research Foundation for 30 years of service and advocacy on behalf of organic agriculture.
Nick and Tory have one son and one daughter.
About the Brickyard Road farm site:
Over the years, Nick produced both traditional consumer products, including vegetables, as well as typical row crops, certified organic seed, and other agricultural products on the farmland along Brickyard Road, as follows:
Traditional Consumer-type Products:
• White sweet corn (Silver Queen and other varieties)
• Indian corn
• Fresh edible soybeans (edamame)
• English peas and Sugar Snap peas
• Snap beans, Roma beans, Lima beans
• Winter Squash—Butternut, Acorn, Patty Pan and other types
• Pumpkins—Jack o Lanterns, pie pumpkins, mini pumpkins
• Gourds—large, medium and mini
• Sweet potatoes
• White potatoes
• Fresh cow peas
More Agricultural Type Products:
• Grain Sorghum/milo
• Tall Sorghum
• Sorghum/Sudangrass (for summer cover crop)
• Cow Peas (dry beans and seed)
• Black Turtle beans (dry)
• Wheat (grain and seed)
• Buckwheat (grain and seed)
• Red Clover (seed)
• Rye (grain and seed)
• Hairy Vetch (legume, cover crop; seed)
• Corn (open-pollinated; grain and seed)
• Soybeans (food-grade, for use in tofu; grain and seed)
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