Monday, October 1, 2012

Derek Owen-Co-op and Community Leader


 by Shane Smith, Outreach Coordinator
Over the years the Co-op has posted several newsletter articles about Derek Owen and/or the Owen Farm.  Derek has served on the Board of Directors for the Co-op at various times over the years and he is currently serving on the board.   The Co-op looked to Derek’s wisdom when partnering with Concord Health officials to legalize the retail sale of raw milk in January 2011.
Many of you who have had the privilege to visit the Owen Farm are probably also aware that Derek serves as a representative in the New Hampshire House.  He has represented the Merrimack 4 District since 1992.  In his many years of public service, including serving service his home town of Hopkinton as chair of the Hopkinton Conservation Commission, Derek has sought to bring New Hampshire agriculture issues to the forefront. While a state representative Derek garnered reputation for taking on tough jobs others wouldn’t try by using the same common sense approach to legislation that he applied to farming and stone masonry work.

Owen may be most famous (some may say infamous) for introducing bills in the state legislature to permit hemp farming, in 1998 and 1999, but they were narrowly defeated both times.
 He took his fight to even higher governmental levels where he filed an appeal to the US Supreme Court along with the New Hampshire Hemp Council, a non-profit education and advocacy group, after the U.S. District Court and 1st Circuit Court of Appeals rejected their interpretation of federal law.  Owen has also served extensively on the House Environment and Agriculture Committee.  Derek is also a staunch defender of the environment, both in politics and in practice, recognizing we have only one earth and we must protect it from those who do it harm.

Derek is not going to run again for another term and although his rivals in office have branded him a “liberal" and a “socialist”, (claims he doesn’t necessarily refute) I think we all owe a debt of thanks to Derek for his commitment, not only to politically promoting his values, but living them as well.  As his last term draws to a close, I was glad to have seen him in action at the State House recently.  Aptly, he was introducing legislation to open up state owned land to young and beginning farmers for little or no lease fee.  

For more information on the Owen Farm click here

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