Hard Bargain Farm is a 330 acre working farmstead with rolling hills, cropland, woodlands, and wetlands, located along the banks of the Potomac River in Accokeek, Maryland. Buildings include the Ferguson’s historic farmhouse; barns and other farm buildings; a new state-of-the-art net zero energy net zero water and carbon neutral education building, an overnight lodge; and an amphitheater for concerts and plays. From the Farm’s hilltop, guests are treated to a commanding view of the Nation’s Capital, Virginia shoreline, Potomac River and Mount Vernon.
Hard Bargain Farm is a private facility that is not open to the general public. It is available for use by public/private schools and non-profit organizations through pre-scheduled appointment only.
Living Building Education Center
In keeping with its guiding principles of Education, Inspiration, and Innovation, the Alice Ferguson Foundation has embraced the most stringent set of green building, energy efficiency requirements in the world as we upgrade and enhance our environmental education campus. The net zero energy, net zero water, carbon neutral, and non-toxic component requirements of the Living Building Challenge™ will not only enhance and upgrade our structures but also serve as tools for teaching Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) concepts.
The recently completed ‘living building’ is located at the sunny edge of a south facing field where its roof spreads out like wings to capture the sun’s energy. A network of geothermal wells, located in the grassy field in front of the building, helps ensure the sun’s power is used most efficiently. The building’s tight “envelope” provides an “R” factor that is up to five times as effective as an average building.Read more
Wareham Lodge is the center of activity during the overnight trip. It is our overnight facility and science center. Field studies begin and end here.
Fire rings are available for campfires and cooking (hot dogs, marshmallows), and a cozy log cabin may also be used for evening activities.
The Lodge Includes:
- Bunkrooms that will accomodate an average class of about 30 – total of 22 bunks in girls room, 22 bunks in boys room
- Running water, bathrooms for boys and girls equipped with showers
- Large dining area/meeting room with woodstove for indoor activities
- Full kitchen with industrial refrigerator and stove, oven, coffee maker, can opener, and large pots. A full set of plates, bowls, coffee cups, and a basic set of utensils are available for use. Please note that there is no freezer.
- A partially covered wooden deck with picnic tables – a great place to have gatherings and of course, if weather permits, to eat meals.
- A campfire ring, great for roasting hot dogs and marshmallows and often used for spooky stories or to just relax under the stars.
- Air conditioning and central heating.
School Groups/Education Programs: Reservations for day and overnight field experiences are available for public and private school groups. Hard Bargain Farm’s education programs include guided hands-on outdoor education experiences. Overnight field experiences are housed at Wareham Lodge. Program Information: 4th – 8th Grade, PreK – 3rd Grade
Weekend Lodge Use: Reservations for day and overnight use of the Lodge are available for Scout troops, non-profit groups and community organizations.
- Overnight use of Wareham Lodge: $20 per person with a minimum of $400 per night, and a maximum of 44 persons. Lodging may be for one or two nights, and a two-hour farm tour which includes a wagon ride to the Potomac River at 10 A.M. Saturday.Weekend Programs
- Weekend Day Lodge Use: $200 per day or any part of a day. No tour or wagon ride. For information contact the Alice Ferguson Foundation at 301-292-5665.
Hard Bargain Amphitheater
On many summer evenings, the Amphitheater at Hard Bargain Farm shoots light beyond branch and leaf. Under this canopy of bark, local music and theater come alive, and after a brief stroll down a lit path, the best kept secret in Southern Maryland reveals itself. Built in the early 1930’s by Alice and Henry Ferguson, the original stage was merely a half-circle of concrete set in a natural amphitheater in the woods of their Hard Bargain Farm. For many years, the Fergusons used the amphitheater as a place to gather with their friends and neighbors on summer evenings. They would entertain themselves by dressing up in elaborate costumes and putting on amateur plays. It became a Hard Bargain tradition.
In 1956, the amphitheater was leased by Henry to the Alice Ferguson Foundation, a non-profit organization that was established after Alice’s death to guarantee that the Hard Bargain Farm would be used for the educational and cultural activities that so fascinated Mrs. Ferguson. Today, the Foundation’s mission to connect people to the natural world, sustainable agricultural practices and the cultural heritage of their local watershed through education, stewardship and advocacy.. It is the Foundation that sponsors the Hard Bargain Players.
For information about upcoming performances at the Amphitheater, please visit our Performing Arts page.
The educational activities on our website complement the environmental education courses taught at Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center (HBF), while incorporating science, reading and math. Please use them to help prepare your students for their trip to HBF.
We have organized the lessons by topics that are universal and of value to teachers and students everywhere. We’ve also provided Learning Standards and Alignments for local school systems.
|Classified Information: Students learn the basic concepts of classification by sorting imaginary creatures to create an identification key in “Creature Feature”, then, move on to using a key to classify and identify some of the local species of fish here at Hard Bargain Farm in “Fishin’ for a Name”. Recommended as a preparation or follow-up activity for Bird Watching, Fish Adaptation, Habitat Hike, and Up A Creek courses at Hard Bargain Farm.||Cow In and Out Game: In this fun and informative activity, students learn the “ins” and “outs” of cattle. The “Cow In and Out Game” requires students to decide what goes into the cows, and what comes from them by sorting a variety of items. Recommended as a preparation activity for any of the agriculture courses offered at Hard Bargain Farm, especially for younger students.|
|“Let’s Take a Dip” is a virtual dip netting activity. Students get to “virtually” catch the kinds of organisms they might find when they really dip net here at Hard Bargain Farm. Students will make predictions, collect, organize and compare data and practice the principles of the scientific method. Recommended as a preparation or follow-up activity for Habitat Hike, and Up A Creek courses at Hard Bargain Farm.||Take Out the Trash helps students learn how to Rethink, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle in order to become better environmental stewards. Activities include packing a “Trash Free Lunch” online, comparing and ranking lunches, “Trash Sorting”, and analyzing their lunch trash data collected during the field trip. Recommended as a preparation activity for any of the courses offered at Hard Bargain Farm.|
|Ways of a Watershed: What in the world are watersheds? This interactive online lesson defines what a watershed is, and follows a single raindrop on its journey from the sky to the ocean. Recommended as a preparation activity for any of the courses offered at Hard Bargain Farm, especially Habitat Hike, Down to Earth and River’s In Action.||Water Cycle: Water on the Move allows students to explore the water cycle through a series of interactive lessons. Recommended as a preparation activity for any of the courses offered at Hard Bargain Farm, especially Rivers in Action and Down to Earth.|
Our guiding principles of Education, Inspiration, and Innovation serve us well. This past year, we mobilized more than 23,000 volunteers to help rid the Potomac River watershed of trash and served more than 6,000 students through our transformational environmental education programs. We also opened one of the world’s greenest buildings, designed to meet the rigorous requirements of the Living Building Challenge™ and to serve as an innovative teaching tool.
Your support makes the work of the Foundation possible, and your impact is significant. A contribution of $50 covers a student’s day at Hard Bargain Farm. A $100 donation provides supplies for a community cleanup. A gift of $500 can cover a bus trip from school to a National Park for a field study. A $2,500 gift allows an entire class to spend the night at Hard Bargain Farm.
Thank you for contributing to AFF’s mission. As we approach the end of the year, we ask you to make a special gift in honor of the organization’s legacy and accomplishments, in celebration of our 60 years of service, and in support of the important work we have left to do.
Make a donation today!
Become a Member
Corporate Champions Package
CFC#62564Earth Share MidAtlantic Member
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Here is why students love the Alice Ferguson Foundation:
Volunteering provides service, determination and willingness to help others. If you are one of those special people that like to give of themselves, join us at the Alice Ferguson Foundation as a volunteer.
We have lots of opportunities for volunteering throughout the year.
- Special Events: Spring Farm Festival & Oktoberfest
- Working in our various gardens
- Farm Chores
- Alien Invasive Removal
- Administrative Tasks
If you would like to learn more about volunteering at the AFF please contact the volunteer coordinator, Hannah Seligmann [email protected] 301 292 5665
Volunteering is also a great way to become of a part of the solution with the Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative. Not only can you volunteer during the Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup, you can find year-round volunteer opportunities through our Trash Free Potomac Network:
If you would like to learn more about becoming of a part of the solution please contact the Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative’s volunteer coordinator, [email protected] 202.292.5665
Bridging the Watershed
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