Posts Tagged ‘Hard Bargain Farm’

Celebrating 60 Years of Service to Our Community

October 24th, 2014

By Lori Arguelles, AFF Executive Director

It was 60 years ago today that the pioneers of the Alice Ferguson Foundation (AFF) realized the first fruits of their labors. On October 24, 1954 the Articles of Incorporation for the Foundation were approved and AFF was “born.” This momentous act has had lasting impact during the last six decades including:

– Serving more than 300,000 students through our environmental education programs at our Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center and in national and state parks through our Bridging the Watershed Program.

alice henry – Engaging more than 130,000 volunteers in the annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup by removing more than 7 million pounds of debris over the past 26 years.

– Leading the way in energy efficient and green building design by embracing the Living Building Challenge © as we construct and renovate buildings on our educational campus. The net-zero energy, net-zero water, and zero-waste criteria, combined with carbon-neutral and non-toxic, non-polluting component requirements make this a ground-breaking and landscape-altering undertaking.

Throughout the decades, the Foundation has stayed true to its guiding principles of education, inspiration, and innovation. And the impact is both deep-rooted and widespread as evidenced by the experience of one 10-year old student from Heather Hills Elementary School:

“I couldn’t wait until my overnight trip to Hard Bargain Farm. My first activity was a hike through the woods. We learned about pollution and how it harms living organisms. That one hike changed my whole point of view about the environment. In the future I see myself stopping someone from littering to protect the animals and nature.”

Surely our namesake, Alice Ferguson, would appreciate how her vision of a special place in nature has been embraced by student and adult learners alike. And we are proud that Alice’s vision for Hard Bargain Farm has been recognized as nationally significant. Just in time for our Diamond Jubilee celebration the Farm was selected for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. This prestigious roster is the official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. As anniversary gifts go, this is definitely a gem!IMG_0486
But the greatest gift of all is the privilege of sharing the wonder and beauty of nature with a child for the first time. Nothing can match the eye-opening and often life-changing experiences that come from this connection. We couldn’t do any of this without the generous support of friends like you. Thank you for helping us to make a difference!
If you’d like to make a special gift in honor of our anniversary, please visit our donation page. Thank you for your support, and Happy Anniversary!

Spring Fever at Hard Bargain Farm

April 17th, 2014

By Ann Bodling, Children’s Garden Associate

Annie and goatsYou know how it is, those first warm days of spring, when you feel you can tackle any adventure that comes to mind and no destination is deemed too far away. Our barnyard animals had just such a day, a couple of weeks ago and several Hard Bargain Farm staff spotted our cow, goats, barnyard rooster and turkey in unexpected places. As it was also a day of many students going through our barnyard gates, opportunities for escape were plentiful, and apparently, too good to pass up.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt some point in the morning, Annie, our cow, and Dot and Dash, our goats, found an open portal to adventure and moseyed up the road leading from the barnyard to the Farmhouse. All ended well, as Eileen, our farm manager and Karen, our facilities manager escorted them back down the road and into the barnyard for a little while, at least. A few hours later, Dot and Dash discovered yet another unsecured gate and let themselves out for a bit of grazing, though they stayed near to home this time and reluctantly allowed themselves to be led back to where they belonged.

Wanderlust was not just a mammalian state of mind on that eventful day. Among the fowl who call Hard Bargain Farm home are a tom turkey who was raised among chickens and a wildish rooster who came to us from one of our naturalist’s flocks. Both must have been feeling the tug of springtime and, seemingly, both felt the urge to find our hens, housed a ways up the hill from the barnyard. Later in the day, I found the rooster looking quite at home in the one chicken yard that lacked a male, and the turkey strutting and gobbling outside all of the chicken yards, in turn.

Turkey and Rooster in Black Stars Yard 003When you attend Spring Farm Festival on May 3rd, you will find our turkey and rooster happily dwelling among the hens, rather than down in the barnyard where they once lived. You will also be able to visit with our cow and goats, as well as our sheep and lambs, donkey and geese down in the barnyard. As exciting as was our day of Spring Fever, we prefer to know the whereabouts of all our animal members. After all, they are family.

Getting the Most Out of a Field Study to Hard Bargain Farm

January 9th, 2013

By Becky Williams

In my role as Naturalist/Educator for Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center, I look forward to my visits to school classrooms both before and after the students come to the Farm for a two day field study.

As I arrive at the school office, I hear, “the lady is here from the Farm” or “the kids are really excited about coming to the Farm!”   I am often carrying a large bag of “trash” for the Trash Timeline activity in which we discuss how long it takes for common items of “trash” to decompose.  The activity helps introduce students to concepts they will learn at the farm, including decomposition and the energy cycle.  The activity also prepares students for their challenge to bring a Trash Free Lunch on their trip; often, this concept is new to the students, yet they embrace the challenge.

As I begin to learn what the students already know and what they need to know for their trip, I am struck by their excitement and willingness to explore a new setting, gather eggs, hike for 2 hours and have a campfire.  Often I work with the groups at the farm and am able to reflect back on the previsit, as we share these experiences.

When I return for the post visit after their field study, I am able to reinforce what they’ve learned through our Food Chain/Energy Cycle activity that expands their interest in concepts learned at the Farm. This lesson develops a feeling of empowerment and responsibility in their roles in their environment.

As a former teacher, I believe these classroom visits (before and after the field study) both augment and reinforce the learning and teaching potential of the field study.  I encourage teachers to take advantage of these outreach opportunities!

For more information and how you can participate in Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center Outreach please contact Sara Campbell at [email protected].