June 2010        

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
  • Judith Allen–Leventhal, Director
  • Abraham Haspel, Director
  • Peggy DeStefanis, Director
  • Dan Jackson, Director
  • Steve Kim, Director
  • Stevenson McIlvaine, Director
  • Frank Nicolai, Director
  • Betsy Reid, Director
  • Ken Robinson, Director
  • Liz Theobalds, Director
  • Nancy Weiman, Director
Executive Director
  • Tracy Bowen
  • Matt Alcide, Development Associate
  • Ann Bodling, Naturalist
  • Chelsea Borchini, Naturalist
  • Libby Campbell, Deputy Director
  • Sara Campbell, Naturalist
  • Laura Chamberlin, Coordinator TFPWI
  • Lane Elson, Farm Associate
  • Katrina Fauss, BTW Educator
  • Tom Frezza, BTW Educator
  • Beth Gillan, BTW:YPP Intern
  • Laura A. Gillespie, Web Designer/Editor, BTW
  • Christa Haverly, Outreach Coordinator
  • Becky Horner, PRWC Coordinator
  • Wendy Lind, Office Administrator
  • Deanna Lutz, Financial Administrator
  • Corrie Maxwell, BTW Educator
  • Tawna Mertz, Consultant, TKM Marketing, Inc.
  • Karen Jensen Miles, Program Director
  • Emory Miller, Naturalist
  • Helen Nelson, CPA, Accountant
  • Chris Ordiway, Naturalist
  • Carol Park, Database Specialist
  • Jason Pope, BTW Educator
  • Sharon Rabie, Naturalist
  • Linda Ries, BTW Educator
  • Rhonda Scott, Program Coordinator, BTW
  • Doris Sharp, Arts & Publications Coordinator
  • Ashlea Smith, Intern : TFPWI
  • Jodie Abbott Standish, Web Designer
  • Bill Townsend, Naturalist
  • Jeanne Troy, Program Director, BTW
  • Anna Wadhams, BTW Educator
  • Eileen Watts, Program Director/ Farm Manager
  • Becky Williams, Naturalist
  • Brenda Wright, Naturalist
  • Jonathan Wright, Maintenance Associate
  • David Yarmchuk, Naturalist





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!





Picnic in the garden.  Photo by Doris Sharp Summer on the farm is a wonderful time to relax, recoup from the busy school season, and take a hint from Nature to just let go and enjoy the warm weather. But we still will be very busy, in different ways. We have eight weeks of teacher training, between Hard Bargain Farm and Bridging the Watershed programs, and will train nearly 200 teachers from all grade levels. These summer institutes are a chance for adults to be kids, get muddy and learn environmental concepts by direct experience. Teachers will face their fall semester renewed and ready to share all they have learned with their students.

AFF has accumulated several awards this past year, including the Southern Maryland Audubon Conservation Award and the Maryland Association of Environmental and Outdoor Education's Green Center designation. We are proud to be recognized for our green efforts.

Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative

Foreign Visitor at our Potomac River Watershed Cleanup

Ben Fenton, photo by Doris Sharp Ben Fenton from London, U.K., showed up at our Cleanup and volunteered at Hard Bargain Farm! He works for Thames21, a waterway charity in London, and conducts river cleanups and other river:related activities there. Here is his story about his experience and how he got involved with us.

Thames21 is London's leading waterway charity. We were formed sixteen years ago to tackle the large amount of litter in the River Thames. We now work with more than 8,000 volunteers every year who help us make practical lasting improvements to London's environment.

I have been working with Thames21 for two years now and am currently the East London Officer for the ‘River Rescue'project which brings communities together with their local waterways. I run clean:ups of the Thames foreshore and the canals and other activities such as photography competitions, a riverside community garden project, walks and orienteering events.

In 2009 I was given the chance to take part in a 'Go and See project', a bursary to visit a similar organisation elsewhere in the world. I chose to visit Washington, DC, another capital city with rivers running through the city. After a quick internet search I came across the Alice Ferguson Foundation and made contact. To my pleasure I soon received a wave of keen emails inviting me to come and get involved!

I timed my visit to coincide with the Annual Potomac clean up: a one day multi:site effort to tackle the trash, much like the 150 river clean:ups we run in London.

It was a great experience to get involved with the AFF; I spent the annual clean up picking up Styrofoam, a material which I dislike with a passion! In London we tackle very similar types of litter, though usually I see a lot more plastic bags! (Bring on London's bag fee!) In London our clean:ups tend to be a lot muddier!

I learnt some valuable lessons and made some great friends in DC. I hope my trip will be the start of an ongoing partnership between the Alice Ferguson Foundation and Thames21 that will continue for years to come. Thank you to all staff and volunteers at AFF who made me feel so welcome!

Ben Fenton


Potomac River Watershed Cleanup: Final Results are in!
By Becky Horner

Bottle collectors at Hard Bargain Farm.  Photo by Bill Townsend
PRWC at Hard Bargain Farm.  Photo by Bill Townsend
PRWC at Hard Bargain Farm.  Photo by Andrea Wlodarczyk
After a month solid of collecting and analyzing data, the 2010 PRWC results are finalized : and what a year it was! This year's Clean:up, comprised of 575 sites throughout the watershed and 14,537 hard:working volunteers broke all previous year's records for size and scope. What's more, even with a 7.5 % jump in volunteer base and a 14 % jump in number of sites, we only removed 251.9 tons of trash this year! This reflects a near 40 ton:decrease (13.5 % ) from last year. If this trend continues, a Trash Free Potomac by 2013 is within our reach.

Other inspiring data from this year includes:

  • :5 % Tires Found (24.9 tons)
  • :53 % Cigarette Butts (14,802 total)
  • :47 % Plastic Bags and :66 % in DC! (21,597 total)
  • :19.6 % Pounds Collected per Volunteer (34.66lbs/person)

As always, we also pulled out some really bizarre trash. This year our volunteers found a Vespa, a gumball machine, DC parking tickets, a boat anchor, an unopened case of Bud Light, and three cancelled checks from 1985!

Our media team at Ruder Finn was a huge help this year raising our total print and online audience for the Cleanup to a massive 61,133,955 people! Kudos!

Thanks again to all of you who participated:we couldn't have done this without you! If you would like to continue cleaning our Potomac, or get a copy of the full results broken down by States and Counties:give me a shout at [email protected].

Many excellent entries were submitted to the photo contest. The winner was "Bye Bye Beer Can", a photo by Emily Wander taken at the Glover Archibold Park Wetland Cleanup site. Congratulations!

Bye Bye Beer Can, photo by Emily Wander


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AFF Received Conservation Award

On June 6 the Southern Maryland Audubon Society presented the Alice Ferguson Foundation with the 2010 Conservation Award for fifty:six years of commitment to environmental education on the Potomac.

It was noted that by operating Hard Bargain Environmental Center hundreds of thousands school children and adults have been exposed to "hands:on" and "feet:in" educational philosophy; and that naturalists over the years have been true to the Foundation's mission to "provide experiences that encourage connections between people, the natural environment, farming and the cultural heritage of the Potomac River Watershed, which lead to personal environmental responsibility."

Highlighted were the Potomac River Cleanup as the best known program sponsored by the Foundation, and the innovative Bridging the Watershed program in cooperation with the National Park Service to teach hands:on investigative approaches in national parks.

We were honored by having been chosen to receive the 2010 Conservation Award.

AFF received Green Center Award

Libby Campbell and Christa Haverly accept Green Center Award

On June 4 the Alice Ferguson Foundation's Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center was officially recognized as a Maryland Green Center by the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE). The Green Center award acknowledges that the work done by Maryland Green Schools would not be possible without the support of mentors and environmental centers that can model and support the process of re:culturing a school to meet the criteria in the Maryland Green School application. This doesn't happen overnight, and it can't happen unless the whole community is involved. On average it takes a school two years to effectively fulfill the requirements associated with certification, and our center focuses on long:term partnerships made possible through grants from NOAA BWET, the Chesapeake Bay Trust, and many others.


Sunday at Hard Bargain with the Fergusons
by Betsy Reid

Visitors get off the bus at the farmhouse.  Photo by Doris Sharp
Betsy Reid gives a garden tour.  Photo by Doris Sharp
l:r: Jane Norman, Senator Mike Miller, Judy Allen:Leventhal, Michael Leventhal, Linda Simmons.  Photo by Doris Sharp
On May 23, the Alice Ferguson Foundation and the Prince George's Historical Society teamed up for a Spring house and garden tour at Hard Bargain Farm. Mother Nature came through for us, clearing the morning rains for the afternoon event outside. We welcomed the attendance of fifty some people, including Maryland State Senator Mike Miller.

A catered picnic followed that included local specialties: farm manager Eileen Watt's cheese, fresh strawberries from the local Accokeek Foundation CSA, whipped cream from AFF's dairy cow Annie, and Moyaone neighbor Nan Fremont's home made bread. Fergie's punch elevated the mood of the crowd, and everyone seemed to be enjoying the afternoon.

Highlights featured a narrated bus ride to the hilltop with its view to the Wilson Bridge and city beyond. The house and gardens tours were led by Arts Committee volunteers, Linda Simmons, Mary Lee Phelps, Jane Norman, and Betsy Reid. Paintings, decorative arts, books and other objects from the collections were on display in the farmhouse. The gardens looked beautiful with peach roses in bloom along the balustrade.

Recent research on Alice Ferguson has helped us better understand her painting in the context of the times and her farm and garden design as part of the country life movement in America. Betsy Reid, Chair of the AFF Art Committee, remarked on the importance of women as garden designers on private estates during this period, the intimate scale of the gardens, and the site of the house and gardens as part of a broader, preserved cultural landscape.

Here is the recipe for Fergie's punch right out of his book Hard Bargain Adventures (pg. 60):
  • 1 quart can mixed orange and grapefruit juice
  • 2 cocktail glasses gin
  • 2 cocktail glasses rum
  • Dash of Cointreau

Linda Simmons observed in her remarks that "Alice Ferguson is a painter of ability and importance whose various and multitudinous creative activities at Hard Bargain Farm need to be further recognized. At Hard Bargain Farm, the 21st century visitor finds an environment that still speaks of Alice's many creative abilities in not only painting, architecture, writing, gardening, historic preservation, interior decoration, design and landscape architecture but also the forward looking ideas she shared with her husband, Henry Ferguson, about the natural environment, conservation, farming and the cultural heritage of the Potomac River Watershed."

AFF President Michael Herman thanked all who had made the event possible and noted "The Fergusons life and times at Hard Bargain Farm show us how creative, optimistic, and progressive people of previous generations can create a hopeful future for the next and have a good time doing it."

We look forward to our next big event. In Spring 2011, the Ferguson Farmhouse and gardens will be a featured property on the Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage. This event will include additional properties in Broad Creek and will be attended by a statewide audience.


Spring Farm Festival at HBF.  Photo by Bill Townsend
Spring Farm Festival

On Saturday, May 1, 2010, Hard Bargain Farm hosted its 30th annual Spring Farm Festival. We had about 600 visitors on the farm enjoying many different activities, from milking the cow, churning butter to hay wagon rides to the river. Visitors could observe blacksmithing, wool spinning, sheep shearing, and antique tool demonstrations; and children had the pleasure of touching aquatic critters in a tank.

Live music was performed by Doug Everton & Nancy Lisi, Gary Cole, and Boys'Night Out. What fun they were!

Fergie's Gardeners had a very successful plant sale. The proceeds will help support the maintenance and restoration of the formal garden at the farmhouse. We are very grateful to Denison Landscaping and Roozens Nursery for their generous donations. Landscape designer Betsy Reid offered garden advice and tours of Fergie's garden.

More than fifty volunteers helped to make it happen. We thank you all!

Sheep Shearing, Spring Farm Festival at HBF. Photo by Bill Townsend

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

Schoolyard Classroom Project at César Chávez
By Christa Haverly

Cesar Chavez Garden and Green Center.  Photo by Christa Haverly

Cesar Chavez Garden and Green Center. Photo by Christa Haverly

Through our outreach program with Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center, we have partnered with César Chávez Elementary School in Prince George's County Public Schools for the past two school years in our Schoolyard Classroom Project. This year, we recommended the school for a grant offered through Earth Day Network for a large:scale schoolyard garden upgrade. To our great pleasure, César Chávez was chosen as one of the schools to receive this grant. Earth Day Network installed a garden worth $ 10,000 that is about the size of an acre that includes 22 raised beds for vegetables, fruit trees, a greenhouse, a tool shed, compost bins, a butterfly garden, rain barrels, and two outdoor classroom areas. The ground was broken in late winter and the garden was completed in time for Earth Day. It looks awesome and the students and teachers are really excited to be learning outside. If you live in the Hyattsville area, keep an eye out on Riggs Rd. for a table set up outside an elementary school selling fresh produce from the schoolyard!


Kid Talk
By Brenda Wright

North Chevy Chase Elementary School from Montgomery County has been visiting Hard Bargain Farm for many years. Once the kids get back to school the teacher asks them to write about their experiences at Hard Bargain Farm. Some of the questions they are asked are: list three things you learned while on the trip; what did you like or not like; describe your experience. The teacher then sends a copy of their responses to us. I really enjoy reading what the kids have to say and this is a great way for us to get feedback.

Here are some of the best quotes from the kids:

"I learned that we all need farms to live more than a couple of days."

"My favorite part about the trip was when our guide, Emory, took us to the swamp and marsh because it was so quiet and beautiful."

"Rolling down a steep hill with rocks twice is not a good idea."

You get the idea, kids really tell it like it is.

Brenda Wright reads the story of corn to students.  Photo by Doris Sharp
Brenda Wright reads the story of corn to students


Parent Talk

"My son's 5th grade class (Barnhart ES) had an absolute ball during their Hard Bargain Farm overnighter. Our guides were like walking encyclopedias yet very personable and approachable. We worked hard and played hard. Still, we had ample opportunity to breathe deeply and take in all the natural beauty surrounding us. As a chaperone, I faced a few demons (slinky sneaky creepy crawlers), reacquainted myself with leg muscles I'd forgotten about, AND lived to tell about it. Yaaaaay!!! Truly an enlightening experience."

Terri Tyree:Beasley

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A Morning at the Farm

On June 26, Saturday, 9:11 a.m. Farm Manager Eileen Watts will offer A MORNING AT THE FARM program that includes cow milking, making butter, collecting eggs, feeding animals and more.

For all ages and members only. Attendance limited, RSVP at 301.292.5665 (Wendy). No strollers, please.

A Morning at the Farm

Farm Update
by Eileen Watts, Farm Manager

The weather is in control again this period. We have had nice days for most student activities and for the May Spring Farm Festival, but three dry and sunny days in a row for hay making has not happened or been a gamble at best. One small window allowed us to gather seventy bales on May 22. Needless to say we are big on weather watching and will keep at it until all sixty acres have been cut. In the meantime, grass is growing with gusto in all pastures, having been fertilized and carefully kneaded by twenty:two cattle in a controlled grazing program. The system works very well.

Watering the cattle as they move from plot to plot cannot always be done with naturally occurring water, so we bought a light weight moveable 150 gallon Rubbermaid tub. This follows the cows and gets filled twice a day from a mobile military style water carrier. We call it a water buffalo. It holds about 300 gallons, is filled via hose and towed by a tractor. The water buffalo is invaluable to us now but when it came here several years ago we wondered how we would ever use it.

For sale: beef, chicken (both broilers and stewing chickens), eggs, and pork products. Call for details (Eileen's cell 301.659.1666)

As the grass:fed beef program grows we are looking for buyers of the meat products. It would be economical for families to buy a half or quarter of an animal. You could then custom order the cuts your family desires. If interested, call the Foundation at 301.292.5665 or the farm manager Eileen Watts directly at 301.659.1666. This happens once a year in September or October.

In the barnyard a kid goat was born in April. The first batch of broilers has grown up and resides in the chicken tractor. The banty hen that roams freely hatched two of her own eggs, so we see the "family" most everywhere. All other barnyard residents are also happy to see the many visitors, which will come through mid June.

Young goat, photo by Doris Sharp


Destruction of Beaver Dams on National Park Service Property
by Karen Jensen Miles

Emergent wetland draining from Beaver Dam Destruction, photo by Doris Sharp
Emergent wetland draining from Beaver Dam Destruction, photo by Doris Sharp

About May 24, three beaver dams along Accokeek Creek in Piscataway Park were vandalized. Not only is this a federal offense, but the removal of the dams has a huge impact on the flora and fauna that live in the area. The highly biologically diverse Foundation property was totally drained and an exodus of animal species that can't live there without some water occurred. Large red:bellied and painted turtles were seen attempting to cross Bryan Point Road and one could see fish flopping in the mud.

Beavers and their dams provide numerous ecological benefits, not the least of which is slowing down water so it can seep through the soil to the water table below. The flooded areas provide places where dozens of species can thrive that otherwise could not. Fifty percent of the bird species to be found at Hard Bargain Farm are seen in and around the emergent wetland at the sharp bend in Bryan Point Road. One can see at least seven turtle species backing on the dead logs in the marsh. The reptile and amphibian species that live there keep mosquitoes and other biting insects to a minimum. At least ten species of frogs and toads breed in this area. The large tree snags are perching places for eagles, osprey, green and great blue herons and other birds, large and small. Untold benthic (bottom dwelling) organisms make this wetland their home.

The emergent wetland (or wet meadow as some call it) at Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center is the centerpiece of a planned boardwalk that will be part of the Alice Ferguson Foundation's (AFF) Potomac River Habitat Study Complex. It is the "jewel in the crown" of our on:site education program at the Farm. Students will be able to use the boardwalk and planned protected viewing areas to observe firsthand the natural wonders.



We are in need of a riding lawn mower in good working condition with a 39" deck minimum for farm use. The donation will be tax deductible. Please call us at 301.292.5665.

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Sarah Carlson and William Hardy in Diviners The Hard Bargain Players will open the 2010 season with The Diviners by Jim Leonard, Jr. Performances are on June 17, 18, 19, 24, 25 and 26 at 8:00 p.m. Potential rain dates include June 16 and 23 at 8:00 p.m.

Set in the fictional town of Zion, Indiana, during the Great Depression, The Diviners is a story of a disturbed young man named Buddy who holds the ability to divine water. When former preacher C.C. Showers shows up, the townspeople are abuzz—they've been without a preacher since their church burned down—and a cathartic friendship is born between him and Buddy. The Diviners is a play about ordinary people dealing with sudden tragedy. These are honest, well:intentioned people who suffer a crisis of faith in the face of hard times. The boy's innocent wisdom meets the preacher's tired cynicism and leads to discoveries for both. This is a play that will stick with you long after it's over.

Visit www.hbplayers.org for more information.

Amphitheater in the Woods Children's Theater Workshop

In July the theater workshop for kids (8—17 years old) will be held again under the leadership of instructor Suzanne Donohue. An annual event sponsored by the Alice Ferguson Foundation and the Hard Bargain Players, the summer theatre workshop is designed to introduce newcomers to the world of the theater and to challenge young veterans to manage advanced theatrical concepts and production techniques. The workshop culminates in a final production and promises to engage and entertain the participants, as they work in the areas of stage management, acting, costuming, lighting, set design and construction.

Instructor: Suzanne L. Donohue
Cost: $ 150 per participant/ $ 105 for Alice Ferguson Foundation members
Dates: Mondays:Thursday, July 19:July 29 (see application for schedule)
Performances: July 30 at 7:00 p.m. and July 31 at 2:00 p.m.
Application: Deadline June 18 Download Application


Again we have a line:up of great performers for this season:

  • July 18, Sun., 7 p.m. :: A mix of Swing, Jazz and good old American Blues with Steve Wolf (bass), Rick Whitehead (guitar), Barry Hart (drums)
  • August 28, Sat., 8 p.m. :: The Hot Buttered Nuggets Americana, Rockabilly, Swing
  • September 11, Sat., 8 p.m. :: Lynn Hollyfield and Grace Griffith & Friends Traditional and original Folk Music at its best!
Check out our website www.fergusonfoundation.org for more information.


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Job Posting: Director of Development

We seek a skilled professional fundraiser to lead Alice Ferguson Foundation's Development Team. The Development Director reports to the Executive Director of the Alice Ferguson Foundation, supervises a Development Associate and Development Consultant and works collaboratively with staff and consultants to lead a comprehensive development operation. Responsibilities include: Lead all aspects of fundraising operation that generates annual revenue goals to support Foundation's operating and capital campaign. Building and sustaining a strong and diverse annual fund; cultivating an individual donor:base including low, mid:level, and major donors; implementing systems to ensure proper management of donor information and relationships; and researching and writing grants to foundations, corporations, and state and federal government programs. In addition, s/he will collaborate with staff to assist in developing marketing, promotional and outreach materials, as well as fundraising and awareness building events.

For more information on this and other positions at the Alice Ferguson Foundation, please visit our website.

Annual Meeting

The fifty:sixth Annual Membership Meeting was held on April 23, 2010. New Board members were elected and the slate of Board of Directors reads as follows:

    Executive Director Tracy Bowen (left) and AFF President Michael Herman (right) say good bye to leaving Board member Marion Mulholland. Photo by Doris Sharp
    Executive Director Tracy Bowen (left) and AFF President
    Michael Herman (right) say good bye to leaving Board
    member Marion Mulholland. (Photo by Doris Sharp)
  • Michael Herman, President (Spring 2012)
  • Nancy Gasparovic, Vice President (Spring 2011)
  • Linda Lampkin, Secretary (Spring 2012)
  • Harold Phelps, Treasurer (Spring 2011)
  • Judith Allen:Leventhal (Spring 2012)
  • Abraham Haspel (Spring 2012)
  • Peggy DeStefanis (Spring 2011)
  • Dan Jackson (Spring 2012)
  • Steve Kim (Spring 2013)
  • Stevenson McIlvaine (Spring 2012)
  • Frank Nicolai (Spring 2013)
  • Betsy Reid (Spring 2011)
  • Ken Robinson (Spring 2011)
  • Liz Theobalds (Spring 2013)
  • Nancy Weiman (Spring 2013)
Please check our next e:newsletter and "meet" our newest Board members.


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[email protected]
Contact Us at [email protected]