Hard Bargain News, Newsletter of the Alice Ferguson Foundation Vol. XXXI, No. 4                                                                                                                   August 2011

In This Issue



The Alice Ferguson Foundation was established in 1954 as a non–profit organization chartered in the state of Maryland. AFF's mission is "to provide experiences that encourage connections between people, the natural environment, farming, and the cultural heritage of the Potomac River Watershed, leading to personal environmental responsibility."

Please support environmental education in our beautiful region by becoming a member of the Alice Ferguson Foundation, and enjoy the many special events and benefits year 'round. Details



Calendar of Events


Board of Directors
  • Michael Herman, President
  • Nancy Gasparovic, Vice President
  • Linda Lampkin, Secretary
  • Harold Phelps, Treasurer
  • Abraham Haspel, Director
  • Dan Jackson, Director
  • Steve Kim, Director
  • Stevenson McIlvaine, Director
  • Frank Nicolai, Director
  • Albert "Snapper" Poche Jr., Director
  • Betsy Reid, Director
  • Ken Robinson, Director
  • Liz Theobalds, Director
  • Bernard "Bud" Wareham, Director
  • Nancy Weiman, Director
Executive Director
  • Lori Arguelles
  • Ann Bodling, Naturalist
  • Chelsea Borchini, Naturalist
  • Elizabeth Campbell, Deputy Director
  • Sara Campbell, Naturalist
  • Laura Chamberlin, TFPWI Manager
  • Danielle Farr, PRWC Program Associate
  • Katrina Fauss, Acting BTW Program Director
  • Laura A. Gillespie, BTW Web Designer/Editor
  • Darlena Griffith, Office Administrator
  • Leona Haiden, BTW Scheduler
  • Aroni Johnson, BTW Educator
  • Rosalie LaMonica, Director of Development
  • Deanna Lutz, Financial Administrator
  • Karen Jensen Miles, Program Director
  • Tyler Mullan, BTW Educator
  • Chris Ordiway, Naturalist
  • Carol Park, Database Specialist
  • Natalie Perez, Naturalist
  • Sharon Rabie, Naturalist
  • Christiana Rigby, BTW Educator
  • Elizabeth Rives, BTW Educator
  • Keith Roumfort, BTW Educator
  • Doris Sharp, Arts & Publications Coordinator
  • Chris Sharpe, BTW Intern
  • Susan Simonson, BTW Educator
  • Ashlea Smith, TFPWI Coordinator
  • Jodie Abbott Standish, Web Designer
  • Bill Townsend, Naturalist
  • Paul Turaew, Development Associate
  • Eileen Watts, Program Director/ Farm Manager
  • Becky Williams, Naturalist
  • Brenda Wright, Naturalist
  • Jonathan Wright, Maintenance Associate





An Easy Way to Make Donations!

The Alice Ferguson Foundation has been approved once again for participation in the United Way of the National Capital Area (UWNCA) and the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). Our United Way code is #8083 and our CFC code is #62564.

Please consider us!





Boardwalk looking towards DC.  Photo by Doris Sharp The sights, sounds and smells of summer always generate good times and this year is no exception on and around Hard Bargain Farm. From the lowing of our newest dairy calf, to the crack of the baseball bat at a recent Bowie BaySox game; from the aroma of tomatoes ripening in our Children's Garden, to the scent of welcoming houseboats at the Maine Avenue Marina; from the blossoming Marsh Mallows to the beautiful blue and red dragonflies that dart along the newly completed boardwalk across Accokeek Creek—we've seen, smelled and heard it all! The Alice Ferguson Foundation is the grateful recipient of funds raised at a recent BaySox game and from the inaugural boat tour at the Maine Avenue Marina. Both events happened the same weekend, which, for the most part, was graced with good weather and bountiful participants. Our sincere thanks to all who participated—stay tuned for similar opportunities next summer! And as summer draws to a close, please plan to join us on September 1st as we celebrate the opening of the boardwalk across Accokeek Creek.


Down on the Boardwalk
By Karen Jensen Miles
Boardwalk benches and signage, photo by Doris Sharp
Boardwalk signage, photo by Doris Sharp

The final walkthrough inspection for the new and much improved Piscataway Park boardwalk was conducted on July 30th. The wait is finally over and we can again enjoy the beauty of Accokeek Creek and its marsh and swamp wetlands. It will also be possible to head up to Mockley Point via the newly restored living shoreline.

The original boardwalk was built by the National Park Service (NPS) in 1985 and became a very important component of AFF's on:site education programs. Hundreds of thousands of students, teachers and parents have since observed the river; the forest and wetlands with their fauna and flora; felt the exhilarating breezes; the baking sun; or the biting cold. In other words, they experienced the wonder and excitement of the out:of:doors.

The ravages of time and the elements had rendered the boardwalk crooked, rotting and dangerous in places. For several years, NPS attempted to secure funding to build a new one and finally was given the go:ahead late last year. For the new boardwalk it was required to hand:dig the pilings and that all work was kept within a very tight footprint. The workers of Garcete Construction were successful in doing so and did a wonderful job.

I think you will agree that the wait was well worth it. Saunter on down and take your time:there are lovely new benches along the way for whiling away the afternoon. Use the ramp that leads to the beach along the living shoreline. Watch the tide flow in and out of the creek and the tidal gut on the northern end of the walkway. Enjoy!

Boardwalk, photo by Karen J Miles Please join us for a celebration of the opening of the newly renovated boardwalk across Accokeek Creek in Piscataway Park on Thursday, September 1 from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. Park in the public parking area for the boardwalk off Bryan Point Road and join us along the boardwalk where we will enjoy refreshments, fellowship and celebratory remarks from National Capital Region East Parks Superintendent Alex Romero and others.

This community event is sponsored by the Accokeek Foundation, Alice Ferguson Foundation and Moyaone Association in conjunction with National Capital Parks:East.

RSVP to [email protected] or (301) 292:5665.


Mark Your Calendar!

Oktoberfest Dancers, photo by Doris Sharp
September 10, 8 p.m. Concert in the Woods
Folk music at its best with Grace Griffith, Lynn Hollyfield and Zan McLeod
October 7 : 22 Rocky Horror Show
October 8, 1—6 p.m. OKTOBERFEST
Featuring the original Bavarian dance group Alt Washingtonia Schuhplattlers, delicious German cuisine, hayrides to the Potomac River, delicacies for sale at the country store, silent auction and much more.
October 19 Potomac Watershed Trash Summit.
Registration is open.
April 14, 2012 24th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup


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Farm Update
by Eileen Watts, Farm Manager

This summer is going down in history as the hottest month of July ever, beating all records. Fortunately, it was accompanied by enough rain squalls and thunderstorms to keep the soil from baking hard and the grass from drying up. Our grazers and their pastures have done alright.

Dairy calf, photo by Doris Sharp Hay production is a little on the short side but a second cutting is coming soon. Annie, our dairy cow, freshened (gave birth to a calf) on August 9. A dairy cow is genetically programmed to produce large amounts of milk so the udder can become enormous at this time. A big part of the size, however, is just swelling right now, which will soon subside. She will produce several gallons of milk per day for the next few months, then settle down to what I will call ‘reasonable', hopefully only three gallons per day. There is no worry now that our educational dairy project won't continue for quite some time.

In the meat department AFF is doing very well. All chickens (broilers) we had on hand have been sold. A new batch of thirty:five will be ready for sale in late September and another thirty:five in November. We have signed on with the local campaign of Southern Maryland Meats, which promotes sustainably raised meats to be sold in local markets.

All our grass:fed beef, except for some remaining burger, has also been sold. The ground beef is very lean and tasty, sold in bulk in mostly one:pound packages. It would make excellent burgers for your remaining summer cook outs:our charge is $5/lb. Remember, the beef is locally raised from birth, fed nothing but mother's milk, grass and/or hay, and is processed in a USDA certified facility. We are now taking orders for quarters or halves of beef for the fall. A quarter is about 100 lbs. and contains a mixture of cuts. Our current beef brochure will be sent upon request. If you are interested contact AFF or Eileen directly at 301:659:1666.

Cattle, photo by Bill Townsend


Adventures in Beekeeping
by Deanna Lutz

Deanna splits bee hive My interest in beekeeping started many years ago when I was in high school. Learning how gentle and interesting honey bees truly are, I was inspired to have my own hive — but we all know how, over time and circumstance, we set aside certain desires to get on with the business of life. For many years I had to satisfy my interest in bees by enjoying my time spent at an observation hive at the local fair.

Hard Bargain Farm has hosted bee hives on and off over the years with the most recent hives installed by Bridging the Watershed Educators Anna Wadhams and Becca Fordham in 2009. Was I ever an envious and eager student of their hives'progression! Thanks to a summer swarm of their bees, I readily jumped at the opportunity to re:hive the bees, guided by the sage advice of seasoned beekeepers and AFF staff members Brenda and Jonathan Wright. Unfortunately, the swarm moved on before they could be captured, but my mind was set! This was the humble start of my adventures in beekeeping.

Fortunately for me, my husband indulged my desire to place the hives in our front yard. The hives sit just off the corner of the house where we can sit on the porch and easily observe the bees. We were surprised to learn just how non:intrusive bee hives are to the landscape and no, they are not bothered by the lawnmower.

Getting to know the bees is an amazingly cool experience! Recognizing the routines and regimens of a hive, hearing the ‘piping'of a virgin queen and smelling that familiar waxy:woody:smoky smell of an opened hive are the neatest moments of my day. I've even been lucky enough to catch the first flights of a new queen. And yes, I have been stung many times but it always was due to not being mindful on my part. (Bet you didn't know that a bee sting smells like ripe bananas!)

The importance of honeybees is that they pollinate 80 percent of our flowering crops which constitute one third of everything we eat. A honeybee can visit between 50:1000 flowers in one trip, which takes between 30 minutes to four hours. Bees forage on only one plant species at a time, working there as long as plenty of nectar or pollen can be found. Nectar attracts the bees and pollen does also, but pollen is mainly produced to ensure the next generation of the plant. Some plants need several visits from bees to ensure successful pollination. If pollination is poor because of a lack of bees, not all seeds will develop. Pollen is important within the hive, too, as the protein food for bees. Without pollen, the young nurse bees cannot produce bee milk or royal jelly to feed the queen and brood. If no pollen is available to the colony, egg laying by the queen will stop. Without pollinators there would be no flowering plants, and without flowering plants there would be no pollinators.

While the promise of honey is not the reason I keep bees, it certainly is a sweet reward and I was like a little kid at Christmas, giddy with glee to have my first harvest this summer! It wasn't much, as first harvests never are, but it was enough to share with friends and family. If you're lucky to have a supplier of local honey, you will taste nothing like it from a grocery store!

For anyone interested in beekeeping, there are numerous online resources and a myriad of books available. However, the best advice I can offer is to participate in a course offered by a local group. A six:week ‘short course'offers a great introduction to beekeeping, bee biology and equipment as well as introducing you to mentors and other ‘new:bees'. Right here in our area is a number of beekeepers that would be happy to share their knowledge and I blog by my adventures at www.accobee.blogspot.com.



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NO CHILD LEFT INSIDE: Environmental Education at the Alice Ferguson Foundation

BTW's Partnership with Prince William County Schools Makes a Splash

BTW Field Study

Bridging the Watershed's rich, long partnership with Prince William County Schools resulted in a business partnership award and a featured spot on the county's television station, PWCS:TV in May and June. As part of a coalition of several other partnering organizations, BTW was honored for its outstanding support of the PWCS environmental education program, "From the Mountains to the Estuary: From the Schoolyard to the Bay." The coalition, known as the Chesapeake Bay Education Partners, provides meaningful watershed experiences for thousands of students in the county with hands:on explorations of local environmental parks and areas.

PWCS:TV documented and aired one such field experience in its School Focus program, "Bridging the Watershed & Teaching: An AWESOME profession." Students from newly trained PWC teacher Jennifer Rokasky's advanced earth science class studied sediment and erosion in Prince William Forest Park's Quantico Creek on a field study led by BTW educator Elizabeth Rives. You can view the entire video at: by clicking here.

BTW field experience documented on School Focus program


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Alice and Henry Ferguson's Books Now Available as eBooks

Adventures in Southern Maryland eBook
Hard Bargain Adventures  eBook

It doesn't get easier than that! With a click of your mouse you can order from Amazon.com Adventures in Southern Maryland by Alice L.L. Ferguson and Hard Bargain Adventures by Henry G. Ferguson.

As Henry writes in his foreword "This little volume of 'Adventures'gives the picture of our community as it existed before the war. As Alice noted, change had begun even at that time. Today the old environment is only a pleasant memory."

Be swept back to another time with Alice and Henry on their Hard Bargain Farm in Southern Maryland.


A Note the the Community

Notary services are available free of charge during AFF business hours. Please contact Deanna Lutz at 301.292.5665.


The Performing Arts at Hard Bargain Farm

The Wayward Street Players at the Amphitheater, photo by Loraine Everton On July 9 the "Concert in the Woods" series offered a double bill with King Street Bluegrass and Split String Soup. It was a dynamic bluegrass performance and these two bands were extremely well received.

July 30 the crowd couldn't help it but having a good time with the Wayward Street Players true to their slogan "If it ain't fun, we don't do it!" Doug Everton (banjo, guitar and vocals) not only imitated original performers like Louis Armstrong, Elvis Presley, The Ink Spots, Johnny Cash—he imitated the instruments as well. He was accompanied by Tom Layton on washboard and Wes Butts on washtub bass. It was a lot of fun! Jivon Lee Jackson (left) and David Timmerman in Fat Pig by Neil LaBute

In August, the Hard Bargain Players performed Fat Pig by Neil LaBute, directed by Melissa Gilpin. The play explores how society treats a romance between a young single man and his overweight girlfriend. It's a powerful and honest play indeed and was well executed by the Players.


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Meet Our Newest Staff Member Darlena Griffith

Darlena Griffith, photo by Doris Sharp After serving 20 years in the Air Force, the last six of which were in direct support of the White House, Darlena retired in 2002. Wishing to raise her children in a "kid friendly" neighborhood, ‘Dee'and her husband moved the family to Swan Point in 2006. She joins the Alice Ferguson Foundation as the Administrative Assistant for Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center, a job she describes as being "a girl Friday", because it requires many varied skills. She graduated from the College of Southern Maryland in May 2011, with an Associate's Degree in Business Administration, and plans to complete her Bachelor's Degree in Business at the University of Maryland University College beginning this fall. She specifically sought a position with a local non:profit because she feels that we must all contribute what we can to make our communities stronger. In her spare time, she loves to read suspense novels, she volunteers as treasurer for the Southern Maryland Youth Organization, and occasionally serves as "team mom" for her children's soccer team. Darlena believes that people, especially kids, watch what you do more than they listen to what you say, so you must always "walk the talk".


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A Hint of the Civil War
by Chris Ordiway

Below is an excerpt from a U.S. Navy website on pioneers of submarine development mentioning Alice L.L. Ferguson's father, John T. Lowe, being wounded at the First Battle of Bull Run, also known as First Manassas. (An interesting aside is that the South named their battles after the nearest town while the North named them after the nearest waterway.) He joined the Second Ohio Regiment April 18, 1861 in Columbus; the regiment mustered in on April 29 in Lancaster, PA for three months of volunteer service and became a part of the force defending Washington, D.C. They mustered out on July 31 when the service terms were fulfilled and John Lowe then transferred to the Navy sometime in August.

Photo of John T. Lowe "Captain John T. Lowe helped the submarine force bridge the gap between ambition and reality. Born in Liverpool in 1838 and educated in engineering, Lowe emigrated from England to the United States to join the Second Ohio Regiment in 1861 during the American Civil War. He transferred to the Navy in August 1861 after recovering from wounds sustained in the First Battle of Bull Run. From 1898 to 1900 Lowe participated in the final series of tests that precipitated the Navy's purchase of the submarine Holland VI, which was commissioned as the USS Holland (SS:1). As the Navy's Chief Engineer, he helped navigate the vessel during tests in November 1898. On 5 November 1899, Lowe and Commander W.H. Emory went to sea on board Holland VI during the vessel's acceptance trials and recommended her purchase to the Secretary of the Navy. Onboard another Holland design in October of 1901, Lowe and six others spent fifteen hours submerged in Peconic Bay at the eastern end of Long Island. This endurance test proved that extended submergence was indeed possible."

For more information visit www.navy.mil/navydata/cno/n87/history/pioneers3.html.


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