Since You Asked: March-April 2013

Since You Asked: March-April 2013

Questions and answers about the Bethesda area.

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How many farms are left in Montgomery County, and what do they produce? 

—A reader in Bethesda

There were 561 active farms in the county in 2012, with agricultural services occupying about one-third of its land area, according to the county Department of Economic Development. 

Most of those farms produce “cash grain” crops, such as corn, wheat or soybeans. More than 200 of the county’s farms produce food for human consumption, such as fruits and vegetables.

How did F. Scott Fitzgerald end up buried in Rockville since he’s mostly associated with other places?

—A reader in Potomac

Though F. Scott Fitzgerald is often linked to Paris, New York City and other arguably more glamorous locales than Rockville, he had deep roots in Montgomery County thanks to frequent childhood trips to visit his father’s family here, according to Peerless Rockville, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the city’s heritage. 

Photo by Ronnie Haber/Peerless Rockville Fitzgerald returned to Rockville in 1931 to attend his father’s funeral at St. Mary’s Church on Veirs Mill Road, and expressed a wish to be buried next to him in the church cemetery, according to the organization. But when Fitzgerald, a lapsed Catholic, died in Hollywood in 1940, he did not receive last rites, and the executor of his estate unsuccessfully petitioned the bishop of Baltimore to allow him to be buried at St. Mary’s. Instead, Fitzgerald was interred in Rockville Cemetery on Baltimore Road, and his wife, Zelda, was buried next to him seven years later, after dying in a fire at the asylum where she was institutionalized. 

When Rockville created a historic district in the 1970s that included St. Mary’s and its cemetery, a community group informed Fitzgerald’s daughter, Scottie. The group suggested she might want to reignite efforts to have her parents buried there, says Maureen Corrigan, a book critic and Georgetown literature professor who is writing a book about how Americans interpret Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

Scottie’s efforts succeeded, and the famed writer and his wife were moved to St. Mary’s in 1975. 

“The reburial was a big occasion, with Scottie in attendance, as well as Fitzgerald scholars, including the eminent Matthew Bruccoli, reading passages from Fitzgerald’s work,” Corrigan says. It was “very different from Fitzgerald’s first burial, which was a lot like Gatsby’s: few mourners in attendance, a rainy day, and a Protestant minister who didn’t know who he was.”

Where’s the best and closest place to mountain bike in Montgomery County? 

—A reader in North Bethesda

Photo courtesy of Robert Caverly The county is rife with mountain-bike trails, says Dave Magill, trail liaison for The Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts (MORE), a mountain-biking group that organizes the MoCo Epic, an annual 65-mile mountain-bike ride in the county. 

“Eighty-five percent of the ride is on single-track trails through 11 different parks,” says Magill, a Potomac resident. “The fact that we’re able to organize a ride like that in a major metro area just shows you what a wealth of good trails we’re blessed with.”

Magill says the epicenter of mountain biking in the county is Schaeffer Farm in Germantown, which offers a wide variety of trails for riders of all abilities. But if you define the “best” trails as the “steepest, rockiest and gnarliest,” you’ll want to head to Black Hill and Little Bennett regional parks, located in Boyds and Clarksburg, respectively, Magill says.

For details about these and other trails, visit or

Have a question you’d like answered about someone or something in the Bethesda area? Email Please include your name and the city in which you live.

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