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Farmer Brings Experience To National Organic Board

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says no state met federal goals of three-quarters of Americans eating enough fruit, and half eating enough vegetables. California ate the most fruit and Tennessee was best with vegetables.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says no state met federal goals of three-quarters of Americans eating enough fruit, and half eating enough vegetables. California ate the most fruit and Tennessee was best with vegetables.

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ADAMSTOWN, Md. (AP) ― Ensuring that standards for organic food production are adhered to and not watered down has always been a concern for Nick Maravell.

His approach may have something to do with Maravell’s recent appointment to the 15-member National Organic Standards Board.

A organic farmer for 31 years, Maravell operates Nick’s Organic Farm in two locations — Adamstown and Potomac.

The organic board recommends whether a substance should be allowed or prohibited in organic production or handling. It also assists in the development of standards for substances used in organic production and advises the secretary of agriculture on other aspects of the implementation of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 — the federal law that established the national organic program and the National Organic Standards Board.

“It is an honor to be selected to be able to represent the interests of farmers across the country,” Maravell said. “I hope to bring their views to the board.”

The board meets twice a year, but conducts its work through committees that hold teleconferences weekly, where a lot of details are hashed out, Maravell said.

“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,” Maravell said.

“Consumers should have no question about the integrity of their products and I am concerned that there are no attempts to water those organic standards down.”

Maravell’s appointment was applauded by Maryland Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance.

“Since 1979, Nick has been committed to quality organic products and constant improvement in farming methods,” Hance said.

“His farm constantly conducts on-farm research with federal, state and nonprofit agencies to refine organic practices.”

Maravell produces grass-fed Angus beef, pastured chickens and turkeys and free range eggs; various hays and some straw; field and Indian corn, soybeans, barley, rye grain and hairy vetch; edible vegetable soybeans, certified organic heritage seeds and various grain and cover crop seeds.

Maravell also grinds grains and sells organic poultry feed.

Sales growth for Nick’s Organic Farms is normally 10 to 20 percent annually, Maravell said.

“Our most defining characteristic is that we farm on the urban fringe and market locally,” Maravell said. “Our farm is a relatively small, certified organic operation. We have 170 acres in production, the vast majority of which is in farmland preservation.”

Maravell plans to increase production over the next five years.

His organic system of farming has evolved over the last three decades.

Maravell’s model of farming is big on information, management and intensive marketing, he said.

“We operate a diversified and integrated farm. This means we raise several types of crops and animals together,” he said.

“Generally, our system demonstrates the advantages of encouraging diversity and decentralization, of fostering synergy and symbiosis and of relying on nutrient recycling and self-regulating systems. These terms simply mean the parts of our system are designed to work well together and require little redirection to maintain the system once it is established,” Maravell said.

The success of Maravell’s farms can be measured by the fact that he is sold out all the time, he said.

“We cannot meet the market demand for local, fresh, quality products,” he said.

Maravell sees this trend growing significantly in the Washington region over the next 10 years.
(© 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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