Status Of Brickyard Proposals Is Undecided

Whether the county will consider the alternative proposal for the educational farm to replace plans for soccer fields is still unclear.


Montgomery County received two responses to its request for proposal for the Brickyard Soccer Field Project last week -- one from MSI and an unsolicited proposal for an educational farm. But according to county officials it is unclear if the second, unsolicited proposal will be considered.

Supporters of Nick's Organic Farm, a 30-year farming operation in Potomac threatened by the soccer field development, , offering the creation of an agricultural education program to launch on the Brickyard site. According to project co-organizer, Sophia Maravell, copies of the proposal were given to Ike Leggett's Office, to for the county, and to all nine members of the Montgomery County Board of Education.

Maravell's proposal would use ten acres of the 20-acre farm for educational purposes, and lease the remaining ten acres to Sophia's father, Nick Maravell, who has farmed on Brickyard Road for 30 years. Over three years the educational farm would expand from a half-acre demonstration garden with kid-friendly activities and structures, to use a full acre for the demonstration garden, nine acres to supply organic vegetables to school cafeterias and the remaining 10 acres leased to Nick Maravell for breeding GMO-free organic seeds.

"I think that because we are taking this proposal to the board of education, who has the interests of Montgomery County school students at their hearts, they'll see that this is a better educational use for the land," Sophia Maravell said. "This land should be used for educational purposes. It's owned by the school board. It really doesn't have anything to do with the county in my opinion."

But according to school officials, the board may have washed its hands of the situation.

"The Board won't have a position on the proposal because the lease is with the county and it's their decision," said Dana Tofig, spokesman for Montgomery County Schools.

The next step for Montgomery County and Brickyard project manager Kassa Seyoum is to review the proposals, but again, the status of the educational farm proposal remains uncertain.

"At this time, I can not discuss this issue until the proposal review is complete," Seyoum told Patch.

While the project proposals are under consideration, Maravell and Keen have already begun efforts to create the educational farm on the Brickyard site, and have had students from  tour the facility.

"We're hopeful," said Dea Keen, a part-time employee of Nick's Organic Farm and farm manger for the educational project, "but we also need as much public support as we can get."


What would you prefer to see on the Brickyard Road property? Tell us in the comments.

organic friend March 07, 2012 at 04:52 PM
It makes sense to me that a school site be used for education, especially since both state and national standards call for these kind of programs. And, it is Organic and totally unique, what a great resource for our schools and our kids! I know that the RFP calls for soccer fields and I love soccer, but I see alot of soccer fields and don't know of any other organic seed farms running programs for many schools. I learned so much by working with my Grandfather in his big garden, digging, picking and weeding, really knowing how things grow and loveing to eat it! And if they build soccer fields and parking lots and lots of infrastructure on a school site, they have ot tear that down if they build a school! And if, as the RFP calls for, some private group spends all this money to build these fields and then only they get to use them. That doesn't make sense to me. This is public land! and all our schools and children using it to learn feels right.
Bill Samuel March 07, 2012 at 07:36 PM
This site is special due to its use in organic farming for some time. The proposal for the agricultural education program makes far more sense than that for soccer fields. There is no good reason to use such a unique resource for playing fields.
Linda March 07, 2012 at 07:51 PM
Give me a break! We're talking about paving this farm over so we can have the 502nd and 503rd soccer field in MC. When is it ever going to be enough? When we have over a thousand soccer fields or will two thousand soccer fields be enough? This is public land and it belongs all our kids, not just the ones that play soccer.
Don E. Dotter March 07, 2012 at 08:04 PM
My goodness can the county and the school board not see the benefit of the incredible work being done at Nick's Farm and the "smart solution" for the use of the field. Even in cities across the nation people are growing organic produce everywhere there is an open space they have embraced the understanding that unless we control our food source, then we will we be at a loss to wonder why-why we allowed to be fed what others have chosen for US. People in cities are hanging gardens, there are vertical gardens, there are gardens in grocery carts, on back of pick-up beds, in alley ways. The creativity is endless and just because Potomac is surrounded by trees and people can not see the forest because of the trees, there in lies problem. As it becomes someone else's issue. I shop at Whole Food...so it's all good right? If one is not willing to come to the aid of the commons then we get the society what has chosen to be status quo. Hard decisions more and more are kicked down the road because everyone wanted someone else to do the hard work. Well Nick has done the hard work and now you want to take it away. Shame on you all. He has stood firm on his convictions and that I guess is threatening to the backroom dealing of this corrupt political system. Shame on you again.
Sue Shaw March 07, 2012 at 09:59 PM
I certainly hope every citizen is taking time to write or email every member of the county council and the school board. The county website has the email addresses With a simple click. It is, after all, near election time for those who can choose to do the right thing. How about a photo op and support from Michelle Obama?
KG Cook March 07, 2012 at 10:20 PM
What an asset the agricultural education center would be for our county and state!
Sophia Maravell March 08, 2012 at 06:49 PM
If anyone has an in to Michelle Obama, please let us know! Also, I wanted to expand on my seemingly naive quotation in this article- I understand that the County has leased the land from the Board of Ed, and therefore, they do play a big role in this decision. I also wanted to expand on our vision of the farm as a farm-based, hands on, experiential learning hub of Montgomery County because this larger vision is what keeps us advocating everyday for this cause. We are within 10 miles of 43 public elementary schools, and could therefore impact thousands of students We could impact thousands of students each year. Agro-education has been proved to benefit the health and well being of children, as well as improve their self esteem, and academic focus. (Azuma, Andrea. 'Bearing Fruit: Farm to School Program Evaluation Resources and Recommendations'). Additionally, kids with learning differences and ADHD often shine in the garden where they have the outlet to fully engage in the hands-on active learning. We believe the County and the Board of Ed should turn this controversial issue into an opportunity to provide an educational hub that is a model to the rest of the state. This is a rare opportunity that would not be able to be re-created after the irreversible decision to bulldoze and level the hilly farm for ball fields and parking. Feel free to contact me, sophia@brickyardeducationalfarm.org for more info on our vision, or if you would like to get involved in any way!
Daniel Grossberg March 28, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Developing another soccer plex is a ridiculous proposal when the county already owns hundreds of soccer fields that lie in disrepair at our schools. The upfront investment could be put away in a sinking fund. The income from the fund would easily pay for the renovation and maintenance of more fields than they are proposing to put in one small Potomac site. This would eliminate eyesores, provide more playable fields in closer proximity to more users and preserve an organic farm with smaller carbon footprint. Everyone wins except for the developer who is undoubtably paying off county officials for promoting this scheme.


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