Hard Bargain News: Newsletter of the Alice Ferguson Foundation
Vol. XXXIII, No. 3                                                                                                     June 2013
In This Issue
Do You Know How Important You Are to Our Mission?
Working Together at HBF: Lessons Beyond the Garden
BTW's Students Take First Step toward Becoming Lifelong Environmental Stewards
The Blue Rhino-Symbol of Good Times at Hard Bargain Farm
Potomac Communities Work to Become Trash Free
Bunnies Looking for Homes
Quick Links

What do dragonflies, blue rhinos, trash-free communities and YOU have in common? The answer is easier than you might think: all are essential parts of the Alice Ferguson Foundation mission! As you enjoy this issue of Hard Bargain News please remember that everything that we do is possible because of your generous support.  


Our Trash Free Initiative continues to be an essential part of keeping the Potomac River Watershed clean, a particularly vital endeavor since 80% of our drinking water in the region comes from the river. Our innovative, hands-on filed studies challenge and excite students of all ages and encourage them to become the next generation of environmental stewards.The restoration of our beloved Blue Rhino sculpture is a fun and fantastical reminder of the rich cultural heritage that is such a rich part of our history at Hard Bargain Farm. 


Thank YOU for making it all possible!


Lori Arguelles 
Executive Director 
Alice Ferguson Foundation

Do You Know How Important You Are to Our Mission? 


By Farley Smith, Development Coordinator


No money, no mission. Put positively, ultimately it is only through the financial contributions of individuals and groups of individuals (i.e. foundations, corporations, and governments) that it is possible for us to fulfill or mission of connecting people to nature.


Flexible dollars allow us to serve best.

On any given day, we may need boots for Hard Bargain Farm students, chemistry kits for Bridging the Watershed student scientists, a metro ticket to do outreach in a DC trash-free community, new fencing for the Children's garden, or repairs on the barn roof. Government and foundation funding do not always allow flexibility to meet our greatest needs to achieve our mission,but gifts from community members like you do! 


Individual donors are the biggest contributors to US charitable organizations. According to Giving USA's 2013 report, donations from individuals accounted for 73% of the $316 billion given to charity in 2012 (an increase of 3.9% from 2011!). Of that, environmental and animal charities accounted for only 3%.


Thank you for investing in our mission to connect people to nature in order to sustain our natural world. Consistent commitment from individual donors will help us continue to deliver our quality programs in uncertain economic times.


Thank you to our loyal donors for making our work possible.


Working Together at HBF: Lessons Beyond the Garden


By Ann Bodling, Children's Garden Associate


They began the season as disparate individuals and ended it as friends and fellow gardeners. The seven home-educated students ranged from six to eleven years in age, some with previous gardening experience and some without, some loud and boisterous and some painfully shy. The challenge would be to help them to think beyond themselves, to learn to support one another and work together, and to teach them something about what gardening was all about.


What I hadn't anticipated on our first day together in September, was how well they would achieve those goals by our last meeting in May.  Each student was given a plot of their own, in which they could plant, observe and harvest what they grew. They planted assorted cabbages, lettuces, carrots and dill in September, weeded and watched their plots in October and harvested produce in November, just in time for Thanksgiving.  In the spring, they planted similar crops in March and harvested in May, on our final day of the season. In addition, they helped with other Children's Garden chores: harvesting potatoes and sweet potatoes, pulling out spent tomato vines and peppers, ridding the garden of wild onion and spreading and incorporating compost into empty beds, as we prepared the garden for winter.


As much as they may have learned about gardening, I was most proud of their growth in understanding and respect for one another. They learned to accept each other's differences, distinct as they were. They pitched in to help one another with garden tasks and older students encouraged the younger ones. As the season ended in May, I looked back on what we had accomplished and what they had learned, not just about growing food, but about working together and counted the year a success. 

BTW's Students Take First Step toward Becoming Lifelong

Environmental Stewards


By Elizabeth Rives, Program Coordinator, Bridging the Watershed


"I have grown to admire the beauty of sensitive living beings a lot more, and I have also noticed how important one little action can be." - Richard Montgomery student after the experience
Bridging the Watershed educator ZoŽ Unruh spearheaded a citizen-science project with students this spring, helping steer nearly 100 young adults on the path to becoming lifelong environmental stewards.


This project was part of an ongoing National Park Service study on mercury levels in dragonfly larvae in National Parks. As the first  participants from the National Capital Region, student scientists collected their samples from the ponds at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, the Gambrill Mill pond at Monocacy National Battlefield, and Bush Creek, a tributary of the scenic Monocacy River.


The young citizen scientists had to follow precise scientific protocols in their collection techniques and identify the larvae down to family level. The project, like other BTW programs, connects people to parks and offers students an important avenue for future public participation in scientific research.


BTW will continue the study through the fall of 2013 and into 2014 as part of its efforts to engage students and help them become environmental stewards. Studies have shown that public participation in scientific research initiatives increase environmental knowledge and scientific literacy, expand citizen inclusion in local issues, and monitor ecosystems that otherwise would not be.


The Blue Rhino-Symbol of Good Times at Hard Bargain Farm


By Doris Sharpe, Cultural Heritage Coordinator


Visually memorable for visitors, especially school children, the Blue Rhinoceros is a hefty, humorous sentry to a creative legacy and is simply unforgettable and remains for many the image of their time at Hard Bargain.Read more about the Blue Rhino History here. 


The "Blue Rhino" as we call it has been on sentinel duty in front of the Farmhouse for more than 70 years. The environmental impact-heat, freezes, rain and snow-has become severe. Mortar cracked and bricks became loose so that we had to stop schoolchildren "riding" Blue Rhino, which is the first thing they want to do when they see it.


We received a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities to conduct a professional assessment of its condition and needed treatment.  After receiving a complete report a private generous donor stepped in to foot the bill for the restoration of the Blue Rhino in memory of his wife who was teaching children at Hard Bargain Farm for more than twenty years. The work will start in mid-August and should not take more than a week assuring that the children can "ride" the Blue Rhino and have fun again when the new school year begins.    

Potomac Communities Work to Become Trash Free

By Laura Chamberlin, Program Manager, Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative


Each day communities right here in the Potomac Watershed are working to achieve the goal of being a Trash Free Community. The efforts communities are taking to end litter are wide-ranging, but the common thread among the efforts is the use of small, creative steps to reach their goal.


Schools are the centers of many communities. With 17 Trash Free Schools there are quite a few success stories to share, such as the story of Walker Mill Elementary School, near Capital Heights, MD, where the Student Green Team (with over 50 members!) produced their own litter prevention posters, created field day activities using the trash from their lockers, and conducted schoolyard cleanup and beautification activities.. Mayor Kito James has encouraged his town's schools to partner with AFF, as well as look for ways to bring other community members into the effort.


Nearby, in the Branch Avenue corridor of Prince George's County, businesses are taking the lead for community improvement. Under an initiative led Branch Avenue in Bloom, there is a movement to create a business corridor that attracts people and supports the local economy. Part of this project includes partnership with AFF to cleanup up of vacant lots and trash hotspots. Sam's Car Wash, one of the businesses in this corridor, has taken the extra step to display litter prevention banners on their property and provide a bus stop with a trash can, and have seen an immediate reduction in the litter in this area.


It is difficult to reach out to all the communities, schools, and businesses in the watershed, so when a community group from the other side of the river, Woodbridge Potomac Communities Civic Association (WPCCA)in Woodbridge, Virginia, responded to a Call to Action for more Trash Free Communities we were excited to collaborate. Working with WPCCA, who has also brought in Keep Prince William Beautiful and the Prince William County Police, AFF has provided the organizations with the online toolkit and a starter set of posters, as well as conducted presentations and reached out to support from the local governmental agencies.


You can read more about what each of these communities are doing here. 


Feeling inspired and ready to make your community trash free? Please contact us at [email protected] to find out more about how your neighborhood or town can become a Trash Free Community. 

Bunnies Looking for Homes


Two Hard Bargain Farm bunnies are looking for new homes. Both are friendly and have been good with the kids who come to the farm and both would make good pets for people of all ages.  One is a large dark brown female of unknown breed and the other is a smaller, light brown female, Rex breed that has exceptionally soft fur.  The ages of both bunnies are unknown but they have been at the Farm for longer than three years and had been at the Humane Society before coming to us.  Cages are not included.


Please call Eileen Watts, farm manager at 301-659-1666 or Ann Bodling, rabbit keeper, at 717-304-5378 for more information or to see the bunnies.  


Alice Ferguson Foundation
The Alice Ferguson Foundation's mission is to connect people to the natural world, sustainable agricultural practices and the cultural heritage of their local watershed through education, stewardship and advocacy.