Hard Bargain News, Newsletter of the Alice Ferguson Foundation Vol. XXXI, No. 2                                                                                                                   March 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
  • 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
Interim Executive Director
  • Elizabeth Campbell
  • Matt Alcide, Development Associate
  • Ann Bodling, Naturalist
  • Chelsea Borchini, Naturalist
  • Katherine Bradley, Naturalist
  • Elizabeth Campbell, Deputy Director
  • Sara Campbell, Naturalist
  • Laura Chamberlin, TFPWI Manager
  • Danielle Farr, PRWC Program Associate
  • Katrina Fauss, BTW Educator
  • Tom Frezza, BTW Educator
  • Laura A. Gillespie, BTW Web Designer/Editor
  • Leona Haiden, BTW Scheduler
  • Christa Haverly, Outreach Coordinator
  • Becky Horner, PRWC Coordinator
  • Aroni Johnson, BTW Educator
  • Rosalie LaMonica, Director of Development
  • Wendy Lind, Office Administrator
  • 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
  • Ashlea Smith, TFPWI Coordinator
  • Jodie Abbott Standish, Web Designer
  • Bill Townsend, Naturalist
  • Jeanne Troy, BTW Program Director
  • 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!





Magnolias.  Photo by Doris Sharp Ah, Spring : when everyone's thoughts turn to the Potomac River Watershed Cleanup! After the storms of this past winter there will be lots of trash to clear, and AFF invites everyone to join in the 23rd year of this watershed:wide community effort.

Another sure sign of spring is the arrival of baby goats, two identical black & white boys from mother goat Sparkle. Only their "foster mother" : farm manager Eileen Watts : can tell them apart. And we are looking forward to the annual Spring Farm Festival on Saturday, May 7th. Mark your calendars for this fun family event.

Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative

23rd Annual Potomac Watershed Cleanup
April 9th, 9 a.m. : Noon Rain or Shine!

By Becky Horner, Cleanup Coordinator

2010 Cleanup.  Photo by Bill Townsend The Cleanup is right around the corner and there are many ways for you to participate. Volunteers are needed for hundreds of existing cleanup sites to help remove tons of trash from parking lots, streams, and parks. We are also looking for new cleanup sites to join the effort! Register on our website to get your cleanup site listed.

2010 Cleanup.  Photo by Bill Townsend Cleanup Headquarters Update:We will not be holding a large Cleanup at Hard Bargain Farm's shoreline this year due to a lack of trash as well as the boardwalk restoration project at Piscataway Park. We are looking for 10 neighborhood volunteers to help our staff clean up at Hard Bargain Farm. If you would like to join this site, please reserve your spot now by calling Dani Farr at 202:973:8203. Many other local sites are currently recruiting volunteers including our neighbors at the Accokeek Foundation, Oxon Cove Park, and St. John's Broad Creek in Fort Washington.

The Annual Cleanup is part of the larger Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative (TFPWI), which seeks a trash:free watershed by 2013. The Initiative, formed in 2005, addresses the trash problem from a watershed:wide approach to benefit the entire region. AFF's objectives are to challenge regional leaders to work collaboratively; to bring together key stakeholders to research and explore alternative, innovative, cost:effective solutions that will have long:term impact; and to improve general public education and awareness that can shift individual behaviors. Look for our Trash Summit in the fall!

The Cleanup, a vital component of TFPWI, depends on volunteers to help achieve its goals. To volunteer, please visit the Cleanup website at www.PotomacCleanup.org or contact Dani Farr at 202.973.8203. Remember to wear old clothes and sturdy, waterproof boots. Bags will be provided, but bring your own gloves!


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Boardwalk in Piscataway Park : New Construction Update
By Karen Miles

Wait for it! Wait for it! What excitement there will be when the Accokeek Creek wetland boardwalk is finished sometime early this summer! Although we miss access to some of our favorite outdoor spots in Piscataway Park, reconstruction was sorely needed.

Because of restrictions that halt water disturbance for early fish spawning, placement of approximately 275 new pilings along the entire length of the 1,000:foot walkway had to be completed by February 15. The next steps are attaching the headers and stretchers to the pilings; securing the balusters; affixing the new decking; and finishing the rest of the railings. At some point, the three beautiful educational signs that AFF developed for the Living Shoreline project will be permanently placed along the boardwalk.

AFF staff members have been working closely with the National Park Service construction project supervisor and the contractor supervisor to ensure that AFF's and the environment's best interests are represented in the decision:making process. This has resulted in moving both the ADA ramp to the shoreline and one of the "classroom bump outs" to take advantage of the superb teaching spots that AFF staff identified. The "t:section" of the boardwalk will have a substantial portion built just above high tide without railings to facilitate "up close and personal" interaction with the critters and plants in the swamp.

Boardwalk construction.  Photo by Karen Miles


Farm Update
by Eileen Watts, Farm Manager

Goat Kids.  Photo by Brenda Wright

Goat Kids.  Photo by Brenda Wright

Winter was good to us this year with ample precipitation (but not too much of the frozen kind) and plenty of cold temperatures to hold down the numbers of certain insect pests, such as ticks and chiggers. The good news is signs of spring are here. Our 100:plus hens have gone from producing a low of two dozen eggs/day during the shortest daylight of winter to four dozen/day now. Broiler chicks will arrive by the end of March. Our new plucker is ready for service with this project.

On a mild day in February we rented a no:till drill from Prince George's Soil Conservation District to plant four acres of spring oats and over seed ten acres of hay/pasture with red clover. Both kinds of plants love cool, wet weather to germinate. In three weeks the oats have grown to one to two inches tall. This will be cut as hay for the dairy cows. The red clover is a multipurpose way of getting nitrogen into the soil and good nutrition into the cattle.

All farm mammals have received their yearly vaccination against rabies. Much research has been done on the most common pets, cats and dogs, to see how long immunity lasts after a rabies vaccination. It has been determined that a booster every three years is adequate. But since the research has not been done on most livestock, a yearly vaccination is recommended.

Our nanny goat, Sparkle, had two cute kids on March 6. The goose is laying her huge eggs. The banty hens are secretly laying their tiny eggs in out:of:the:way places, and a calf was born a month ago. Ah hello Spring!

Cattle Roundup.  Photo by Doris Sharp


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

Creature Feature : Be a Tree Scene Investigator
by Keith Roumfort

Princess Tree.  Drawing by Karen J. Miles

Tree of Heaven.  Drawing by Meryl Hall

Many animals hunker down in the winter, but trees must stand their ground regardless of the season. Native and exotic invasive trees may appear to blend in with each other's skeletal frames, but upon closer inspection, one may be able to differentiate them without the telling leaves.

Clinging dried fruits, bulging buds, evident odors, and telling twigs provide clues to a tree's identity. Wintertime plant identification is much like being a tree scene investigator: an individual needs to use all of her/his senses. Simple winter tree identification keys are available and small enough to stick in your coat pocket.

Many exotic invasive species of trees can be singled out by snapping off a small sample (remember that no plants, exotic or native, may be sampled in our national parks). Within the exotic's twig there is often little or no solid, woody pith. During the growing season, invasive trees expend much of their energy towards rapid upward growth. Not as much energy is reserved for building a strong center of spongy, vascular tissue.

Princess Tree was used for carving in its native Japan, but Princess Tree growing in the foreign soils of North America lacks a substantially thick pith making carving a challenge. Tree:of:Heaven and mimosa are two other exotic trees in the area with deficient piths.

Since winter is a recess from growth for plants, it offers an opportunity to combat exotic, invasive species. Removal of these species is best done in winter when they are dormant and lack much vegetation. It doesn't guarantee complete eradication, but the plant doesn't have the immediate opportunity to regrow or send out runners.

For more information, consult these websites:


New Staff for Bridging the Watershed Program

We welcome two new members to the BTW team: Educator Christiana Rigby and Scheduler Leona Haiden. Anyone who calls Alice Ferguson Foundation will be greeted by Leona's friendly voice; but you'll have to venture farther afield to find Christiana out in a park with middle and high school students. Christiana Rigby

Christiana is a Maryland native currently living in DC with her husband, two cats, and an urban garden. Christiana graduated from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, with a degree in Environmental Studies, and minors in Dance and Sociology. She comes to BTW with years of experience in the nonprofit sector and has worked for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Her passions include trying out daring new recipes, enjoying the outdoors, and exploring emerging technologies.

Leona Haiden Leona grew up in Arlington, Virginia, and has always been committed to working with children, the environment and her community. As a mother of four, she stressed the importance of environmental education to her children. Leona understands the necessity of maintaining the natural beauty and wildlife in our surrounding areas and chairs several committees for the environmental protection, preservation and beautification of her community. Leona is a published poet and is now pursuing a degree in journalism.


Home School Open House

Kids running downhill.  Photo by Augie Selckmann Hard Bargain Farm will be hosting an Open House for Home School Families on Thursday, March 24, 2011 from 10:00 a.m.:2:00 p.m.

This event will give Home School Families an opportunity to visit the Farm in a casual setting and learn about our Outdoor Environmental Education Program. Some of the highlights will be wagon rides to the river, habitat hikes, and a tour of the barnyard to meet the farm animals.

If anyone would like more information about this event please contact Brenda Wright at 301.292.5665 or email [email protected].


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Spring Farm Festival
May 7, 2011, 114 PM
Free Admission!

Spring is in the air and daffodils are blooming in the barnyard. That means Hard Bargain Farm's Spring Farm Festival is not far away. This is a day we open our gates to the public and it's a great opportunity to bring your family and friends to the Farm and enjoy everything we have to offer:

    Spring Farm Festival
  • Plant Sale veggies, herbs, perennials, annuals, native plants and more!
  • Live Music
  • Arts & Crafts Sale
  • Hay Wagon Rides to the Potomac River (nominal fee)
  • Barnyard Adventures
    • Cow Milking
    • Sheep Shearing
    • Wool Spinning
    • Butter Churning
    • Blacksmithing
  • Antique Tools
  • Kids'Activities at the Log Cabin
  • Food and refreshments will be for sale. Enjoy lunch on top of the hill overlooking the Potomac River toward Washington, DC and Mount Vernon.

We are delighted that three bands will entertain you at the festival:

  • King Street Bluegrass info
  • The Wayward Street Players with Dough Everton info
  • Split String Soup info

Do you like horses? We will have a complete harness horse display! Find out more at Maryland Horse Council and History of Rosecroft Raceway

If you have any questions about this event or would like to volunteer, please contact Brenda Wright at 301.292.5665 or email [email protected].

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Will Gravatt BandConcert in the Woods: Honky Tonk Night Concert/Dance
April 2, Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

Honky Tonk Night Concert/Dance featuring the Wil Gravatt Band with local favorite Steve Wolf on bass will take place at the Wagner Community Center, 2311 Bryan Point Road, Accokeek, MD just past the Hard Bargain Farm entrances. For more information visit www.fergusonfoundation.org or call Doris Sharp at 301.292.5665 or email [email protected].


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