Letter: Schools Project Threatens Brickyard Farmland

Letter: Schools Project Threatens Brickyard Farmland

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

We are sending you an important update on the Brickyard Farmland, and a call to action.

Having abandoned a plan to develop the 20-acre Brickyard Farm site for private soccer fields and parking lots two years ago, Montgomery County Public Schools is now proposing to install an industrial solar panel array there, a move that would similarly destroy the organic farmland that Nick Maravell has stewarded for more than 30 years. If the plan moves ahead, it will kill the soil under the panels with gravel or repeated chemical sprays.

Even after pulling back from their plans to develop this precious land as a private soccer complex, the county and the school board have refused to allow Nick or other farmers to lease it and continue farming it. Instead, they’ve left the land untended.

Meanwhile, Brickyard Educational Farm (BEF) has been conducting agricultural education programs at county public schools while awaiting further decisions on the Brickyard farmland. BEF has a proposal to use this prime farmland for organic farming and agricultural education again, in line with county and state environmental literacy requirements. BEF operated a successful agricultural educational program at the site in 2012.

MCPS is also proposing to install industrial solar arrays on two other green sites, one on Cashell Road in Rockville and one on Warfield Road in Laytonsville.

To help save the farmland from an industrial solar array, please attend one of the three public meetings listed below and send written comments to MCPS.

It is critical that we show strong opposition to building an industrial solar array on the Brickyard farm land and strong support for farm-based education and organic farming on that land.

Our top priority is the Nov. 17 meeting at Seven Locks Elementary because it is nearest to the Brickyard land it and will be the main topic of discussion.

But if one of the other meetings is more convenient for you, please attend that one and raise your concerns about the MCPS plan and your support for organic agriculture and farm-based education on the Brickyard land.

To be clear, we support MCPS investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy. We simply think the MCPS should install solar panels on top of school buildings, and over existing school parking lots and bus depots, rather than destroying precious organic farmland and other green spaces.

For more information or to volunteer:

Please contact Greg Smith at gpsmith@igc.org

  • Community Information Meeting Near the Brickyard Site

Tuesday, Nov. 17, 7 p.m.

Seven Locks Elementary School, Multipurpose Room

9500 Seven Locks Road, Bethesda MD 20817

(This is our priority meeting to attend)

  • Meeting Near the Warfield Road Site

Tuesday, Nov. 10, 7 p.m.

Laytonsville Elementary School, Multipurpose Room

21401 Laytonsville Road, Laytonsville, MD 20882

  • Meeting Near the Cashell Road Site

Wednesday, Nov. 11, 7 p.m.

Cashell Elementary School, Multipurpose Room

17101 Cashell Road, Rockville, MD 20853

Send Written Comments to MCPS:

Please email or mail your comments by Dec. 1 at



Shela Plank

Energy Program Manager

Department of Facilities Management

Montgomery County Public Schools

45 West Gude Drive

Rockville, MD 20850.

Please include these important messages:

  • Oppose building an industrial solar arrays on the Brickyard farm land.

  • Support organic farming and farm-based education on the Brickyard site to serve public school students.

  • Support MCPS investments in energy efficiency and in solar arrays placed on school roofs, over school parking lots and other non-green sites.

The Save This Soil Team