Hard Bargain News, Newsletter of the Alice Ferguson Foundation Vol. XXXI, No. 5                                                                                                           December 2011

In This Issue

Trash Free Potomac River Watershed Initiative


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
  • Kathryn Barger, BTW Educator
  • Shivani Bhatt, Development Intern
  • Ann Bodling, Naturalist
  • Chelsea Borchini:Greene, 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
  • Craig Makufka, Naturalist
  • 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
  • Alena Rosen, Communications Coordinator
  • 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
  • William Townsend, Naturalist
  • Paul Turaew, Development Associate
  • Eileen Watts, Program Director/ Farm Manager
  • Becky Williams, Naturalist
  • Renee Winfield, Deanwood Community Outreach Coordinator
  • 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!





Farmhouse in the snow
    "Teaching children about the natural world should
    be treated as one of the most important events in
    their lives."
: Author Thomas Berry

Dear Friends,

As I reflect on this past year, I think of the more than 10,000 students who, thanks to the Alice Ferguson Foundation, spent quality time outdoors learning about and connecting to our natural world. I also think of the more than 11,000 volunteers who participated in our 23rd annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup at more than 600 locations throughout five states. More importantly, I think about the results we achieved together, like the 228 tons of trash removed in just one day, the legislation enacted to enhance littering law enforcement efforts or the commitment by dozens of area businesses to become Trash Free Potomac Facilities.

Together, we are making a profound difference as evidenced by the reflections of our students after participating in our programs. But we need your help to make sure that students can still have these life:changing opportunities. Please join us and support this vital mission of fostering the next generation of environmental stewards (www.fergusonfoundation.org/donation.shtml).

With gratitude and best wishes for Happy Holidays and the New Year,

Lori Arguelles, Executive Director

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

The beginning of the garden.

The first plantings.  Photo by Ann Bodling

The garden in early summer.  Photo by Doris Sharp

Inaugural Year of the Children's Garden
By Ann Bodling, Head Gardener

The first year of the new Hard Bargain Farm Children's Garden has drawn to a close and I am thinking back to the beginnings of our growing adventure. The half:acre garden site had just been laid out and the beds plowed, created from what had recently been cattle pasture. In mid:November students planted our first crop of garlic and we celebrated the milestone while holding our breaths, hoping the garlic would indeed grow.

One year later we are pleased and grateful for all the garden has become and for what it offers to the students and adults who come to the Farm. In the last twelve months we have hosted approximately 3330 students, some who had been exposed to gardening through family or school gardens and many more who had not. While some students were familiar with hoes and garden shovels, others had never held one in their hands before, nor had the pleasure if digging in the soil. In the Children's Garden, I am pleased to say, all had that opportunity and were able to help shape the garden into what it has become today.

This past year, students and teachers have also done much of the planting and harvesting and we have been able to grow an abundance of seasonal crops. Early spring brought plantings of greens, onions, potatoes, and perennial herbs. In late spring students planted tomatoes, green and hot peppers, sweet potatoes and squash, and teachers at our July Teacher Institute planted a native plant pollinator garden, sunflowers and pole beans. During the summer I planted bush beans, sweet corn and soybeans and then in late summer added carrots, beets, radishes, broccoli, more greens and shelling and sugar snap peas. Students began harvesting as soon as school groups began coming this fall and highlights included pulling 170 pounds of sweet potatoes from the earth and sampling striped sunflower seeds taken from the massive plants the teachers planted at Teacher Institute.

Kids Talk:The Difference between Boys and Girls
By Brenda Wright, HBF Program Manager

It was a beautiful day when a group of first graders from Concordia Lutheran Day School was visiting Hard Bargain Farm, and I was lucky to be working with them. Observing the beef cattle the students were very curious about how to tell the boys from the girls. I asked them to think about their class mates and how they would tell the difference between boys and girls. One boy said, "Well, the girls are prettier." I paused for a moment and asked, "Well, what about the boys?" He said, "The boys are tough." We left it at that and went to look for pollinators in the Children's garden.

Cattail Seeds
They have tasted fresh peas, green soybeans, and cherry tomatoes and had the opportunity to see that the food they eat doesn't originate in the stores, after all, but from the land that feeds us all. They have also had the chance to look for and find the many pollinators that also take nourishment from the garden and learn about why pollinators are so important to our food supply.

And as the gardening year was winding down, students helped with garden clean up: taking down spent tomato vines, adding compost back to the soil, and mulching beds in preparation for next year's plantings and harvests. They also tucked next year's garlic crop safely into its winter home, and so the gardening cycle begins all over again.

The Hard Bargain Farm Children's Garden has become what it is to date only with the help of others. Many thanks to Shane LaBrake for tilling the pasture into garden beds and helping to erect the deer fencing, Jonathan Wright and Lane Elson for building our garden shed and pavilion, Bud Wareham for taking the initiative for finding and procuring our wonderful new garden tractor, and Carolyn Sanford, our tireless garden volunteer and garden curriculum writer. It is our hope that our Children's Garden will help to connect students to the land and increase their awareness of what it takes to feed us all.


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You better watch out, you better not cry... Happy Holidays at the Foundation On December 11, members and friends celebrated the holiday season Ferguson style at the Farmhouse with great company, all kinds of goodies and Fergie's punch (you can find the recipe in Henry Ferguson's book Hard Bargain Farm Adventures). Santa paid a visit and the children were a bit shy with him. Did they remember the times they weren't quite as good during the year? At the end, however, the kids walked away with a happy smile, a candy cane and an orange from Santa.

We wish all of you Happy Holidays and all the best for the New Year!

Santa checks out the wish lists of Delaney and Kadie Arguelles with Mom looking on.Photo: Doris Sharp


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Farm Update
by Eileen Watts, Farm Manager

We had a beautiful fall and all is well on the farm. There has been good grazing for our beef cattle, six of which were this year's candidates for our beef sale in December. Rotational grazing gives them the best of the grass growth and highest nutrition. Not finishing them on grain benefits the cow, of course, but also ultimately the soil and our rivers. Corn, soybeans, and wheat are traditionally grown with lots of herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizer. Our watersheds can do without that. Anyone interested in grass:fed beef may e:mail us at [email protected].

GoatBroilers are plentiful now, frozen or fresh, for $3.50/lb. They were raised here in chicken tractors on pasture and then processed in our fine facility, a refurbished springhouse—thanks to a grant from the Maryland Agricultural and Resource:Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO) for that purpose.

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Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative

Summit, Summit, Summit!
By Laura Chamberlin

2011 Potomac Watershed Trash Summit.  Photo by Bill Townsend

Youth Summit participants.  Photo by Bill Townsend

l:r: Lori Arguelles, Ted Graham, Tracy Bowen, Linda Howard.  Photo by Bill Townsend

In October we coordinated our sixth Annual Potomac Watershed Trash Summit. Each year we bring together stakeholders to look for solutions to the litter problem in the region. We had six roundtables all with innovative speakers from around the watershed and beyond. Roundtable topics this year included Policy, Structural technologies, Litter Prevention Campaign, Regulation, Containing waste, and Odd Items: Cigarette Butts, Tires, Carts, and Sharps.

While we enjoyed our locally sourced lunch, we had the wonderful opportunity to hear from Issa Lovain, an eighth grader from George Washington Middle School in Alexandria who is a true anti:litter advocate. From a very young age, Issa has been fighting against litter with a video PSA, school projects, and organizing cleanups. And now Issa has turned her 8th grade science class into anti:litter advocates. Her class participated in the youth summit where they were able to attend sessions and have discussions about what actions they wanted to take to make their school more trash free, sharing these action items with other Summit participants during the lunchtime Plenary.

In addition to the youth presentations, the Plenary also included Potomac Champions awards, Director of DDOE, and Trash Potomac Facility Awards. Christophe Tulou, Director of DDOE, spoke about how the District will be working towards comprehensive waste reduction as part of the Sustainable DC program.

As we do each year, we celebrated several organizations and individuals that are taking the extra mile to solve the trash problem in the Potomac River, its tributaries, and watershed. These year's Potomac Champions include Tracy Bowen, Ted Graham, and Linda Howard, as well as leading institutions and organizations such as Community Forklift, the District of Columbia's Office of Public Education Facilities Management, Rock Creek Conservancy, and the District of Columbia: Metropolitan Police Department. DC Councilwoman Mary Cheh was also the recipient for co:creating the Healthy Schools Act of 2010 designed to improve the health and wellness of DC schools. As part of the act, District schools are now mandated to implement recycling programs, leading to a reduction of waste in the District.

With over 200 participants, we look forward to working with each of them to achieve the many action items that resulted from each roundtable. If you weren't able to make it in person, it's not too late to join in. Please take time to review the notes and presentations on our website: www.trashfreepotomac.org


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The Art of Alice L.L. Ferguson : The Discoveries Continue
By Linda Crocker Simmons, Curator Emeritus, Corcoran Gallery of Art

Colorado Stream and Mountain
"Colorado Stream and Mountain"

Western Mountains
"Western Mountains"


The Mission
"The Mission"

A Day at the Farm
"A Day at the Farm"

In 2008, we reported the re:discovery of two paintings by Alice L. Lowe Ferguson (1880:1951), the artist who with her husband Henry Gardiner Ferguson (1882:1966) once owned Hard Bargain Farm. It is their careers and creative activities that provide the interests and philosophies perpetuated in the Foundation named for her. At Hard Bargain Farm and in the surrounding neighborhood and park areas the Fergusons'devotion to science, conservation, environmental concerns, history, archeology, and the arts including drama, music and painting are still evident, all of which are combined in AFF's focus on its cultural heritage.

As we continue our voyage of re:discovery about the Fergusons at Hard Bargain we have remained hopeful that more of her paintings would be found. Thus it was a pleasure as summer ended that word came of yet another having been located. As with those earlier paintings this one depicts the American Southwest, a region Alice and Henry, "Fergie", knew and admired. His work as a geologist with the United States Geological Survey took him to the southwestern United States during the 1920s through the 1940s. Alice occasionally accompanied him and painted what she saw.

The re:discovery of this painting broadens the variety of her western subjects. In the AFF collection the streams and mountains of Colorado, expanses of Saguaro cactus state flower of Arizona and other western landscapes are familiar.

The newly re:discovered painting, The Mission, represents a Spanish Colonial church, many of which are still found in the Southwest in California, Arizona and New Mexico. These missions served the purpose of both bringing the Catholic faith to the Native American population but also were linked to the secular activities of Spanish colonization moving northward from the 17th through the 18th centuries. Many survive today, some still serving as churches while others are parks and historic landmarks. Some had been abandoned and fallen into ruin by the early 20th century although the one depicted by Ferguson appears to be well maintained. The combination of Spanish Colonial architecture with the native building techniques and materials made the mission buildings attractive to various artists, most notably the early modernist painter, Georgia O'Keeffe, who depicted them in abstracted forms often masking or not identifying their Christian function. In Alice's painting the tower includes a Christian cross identifying it as a church. We don't yet know which mission Alice painted or its location and are hoping readers and others might offer some suggestions.

Interestingly the history of ownership, or provenance, for The Mission is similar to the other two discussed previously. The current owner bought The Mission in a charity auction organized to offer assistance to flood victims in Vermont. It was contributed by a gentleman who had owned it for many years. He acquired it from the family of Parker Davies Trask (1899:1961), a professor of geological engineering at the University of California at Berkeley. Earlier in Trask's career between 1931 and 1948 he worked for the United States Geological Survey and must have known Fergie, probably even working with him in Washington, DC, as well as in the Southwest. Both men engaged in bird watching and Trask could easily have taken part in the annual bird census at Hard Bargain Farm. Trask and his wife, Fanniemae Craycroft, probably visited the Fergusons at the Farm and may even have been counted among The Gang, those young, bright, interesting visitors who flocked there. Alice depicted some of "The Gang" in her painting, A Day at the Farm, which was selected for inclusion in the Corcoran Gallery of Art's 1932 Biennial of Contemporary American Painting. In that painting some of them are shown doing such things as riding, playing games, and sleeping on the balustrade Alice designed and had built overlooking the garden and the Potomac River.

And so, with this year coming to a close our knowledge of Alice and her life has been expanded by another discovery of one of her art works. As these paintings re:emerge from homes and collections across the country we continue to learn more about her legacy and have the pleasure of unraveling the many interwoven skeins of the fascinating and creative life Alice and Henry Ferguson lived and recorded of not only at Hard Bargain Farm in Southern Maryland but also the far western scenes of Nevada, Colorado, California, New Mexico and Arizona.


The Performing Arts at Hard Bargain Farm

The Hard Bargain Players'Last Show
By Michael Margelos, Director

Photo by Rachel Wallace at Patchie In October, the woods in Accokeek were filled with the rock music of the classic cult musical "The Rocky Horror Show."  Putting on such an ambitious show proved daunting, but in the end the product was nothing short of fabulous.  Critics and audiences alike truly enjoyed themselves.  Thanks to all of the talented members of the cast and crew, the Hard Bargain Players, the Alice Ferguson Foundation, and our fantastic audiences for making this show such a success. All six performances were sold out. If you didn't come out, you missed a truly hilarious, toe:tapping, hand:clapping good time!

This year was a successful "Theater in the Woods" season and we are looking forward to an exciting and productive 2012.


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by Chris Ordiway

The more I research the Ferguson family tree the more "characters" I find. Take, for instance, Herodias Long, common law wife of George Gardiner, Henry's sixth great grandfather. Soon after her father died Herodias (or Herod) was sent to London and secretly married a man named John Hicks, she was 13 or 14 years old at the time. John and Herodias traveled to New England and after a couple of years, in about 1640, they moved to Rhode Island. Not long afterwards the couple had a falling out and John abandoned her, taking most of their belongings with him. She couldn't have been more than 18 at this point.

Common law marriages were quite acceptable at the time so when Herodias met George Gardiner they simply expressed their desire to live as husband and wife to friends. But common law marriages fell out of style later, leading to some legal troubles for the couple, including establishing that John Hicks had previously abandoned Herodias, leaving her single and free to marry George. She was subsequently awarded the first divorce ever recorded for Rhode Island. She and George had many children together over the years but according to records it was not an entirely happy marriage. Based on her statements of neglect by George Herodias petitioned the General Assembly to grant her a separation, which also validated the otherwise unconventional relationship. They never were properly married.

A wealthy landowner named John Porter had been wooing Herodias with promises of caring for her children, he also (very conveniently) had just divorced his own wife. The two were eventually married and it seems John kept his promise and gave each of her son's large parcels of land for their own farms.

The story of Herodias is actually a lot more complicated than can be described in a few short paragraphs. If you'd like to know more about this unusual woman you can, of course, visit her Facebook page. Yes, really. She also has a website (who doesn't?) that tells her story in greater detail. Try to find out why she was willing to walk through 60 miles of wild country to be beaten with a knotted whip. It's an interesting part of what made her such a noteworthy "character" in the Ferguson family tree.

Visit Herodias at www.rebelpuritan.com to read more and to find a link to her Facebook page.

Panorama of London, ca. 1616
Panorama of London, ca. 1616, two decades before Herodias'arrival there.


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