October 2009        

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
  • Nan Kargahi, Secretary
  • Harold Phelps, Treasurer
  • Judith Allen–Leventhal, Director
  • Abraham Haspel, Director
  • Peggy DeStefanis, Director
  • Dan Jackson, Director
  • Steve Kim, Director
  • Linda Lampkin, Director
  • Marion Mulholland, Director
  • Shirley Nicolai, Director
  • Betsy Reid, Director
  • Nancy Weiman, Director
Executive Director
  • Tracy Bowen
  • Matt Alcide, TFPWI Coordinator
  • Nadine Bloch, TFPWI Communications Associate
  • Chelsea Borchini, Naturalist
  • Libby Campbell, Deputy Director
  • Sara Campbell, Naturalist
  • Kathy Dawiczyk, BTW YPPP Intern
  • Lane Elson, Farm Associate
  • Katrina Fauss, Bridging the Watershed Educator
  • Becca Fordham, Bridging the Watershed Educator
  • Amanda Fulwood, TFPWI Coordinator
  • Laura A. Gillespie, Web Designer/Editor, BTW
  • Ginny Harris Crake, TFPWI Manager
  • Cole Hammond, TFPWI Communications Associate
  • Christa Haverly, Outreach 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, Accountant
  • Chris Ordiway, Naturalist
  • Carol Park, Database Specialist
  • Ryan Pleune, Outreach Consultant
  • Sharon Rabie, Naturalist
  • Rhonda Scott, Program Coordinatory, BTW
  • Doris Sharp, Arts Coordinator/ Publications/ Naturalist
  • Will Sheppard, BTW Educator
  • Tammy Shupard, Naturalist
  • Jodie Abbott Standish, Web Designer
  • Bill Townsend, Naturalist
  • Jeanne Troy, Program Assistant
  • Anna Wadhams, Educator, BTW
  • Eileen Watts, Program Director/ Farm Manager
  • Becky Williams, Naturalist
  • Brenda Wright, Naturalist
  • 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!
View from farmhouse to Potomac river.  Photo by Doris Sharp

Fall is always the best time of year at AFF, since we welcome kids back to Hard Bargain Farm and Bridging the Watershed programs to enjoy exciting hands:on adventures while learning in beautiful outdoor settings. These golden warm days are enjoyed in full and even more so with special additions to our regular curriculum such as Growing Native: collecting seeds of native plants to be used for replanting native gardens and forests in our area. HBF is a collection site, so if you feel the urge to pick up acorns or nuts to help this project, please visit the web site www.growingnative.org for all the details.

This year, fall is even more exciting with the Fourth Trash Summit on October 28th. We have come a long way from the first summit when people were still saying "What are you trying to do? By when?" Now trash, recycling and reducing waste at its source are front page and every:day news items. People all over the world are looking for ways to take action and looking to organizations such as AFF for guidance and ideas. For more information on this year's summit read the article below and visit our web site, www.fergusonfoundation.org .

Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative

4th Annual Potomac Watershed Trash Summit
October 28, 2009 at the House of Sweden, Washington, DC
By Ginny Harris

The 'trash man'at a previous summit.  Photo by Doris Sharp
The 'trash man'at a previous summit.

Things are heating up for the Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative. The 4th Annual Potomac Watershed Trash Summit on October 28th is quickly approaching! This year, our trash babes and hunks will be taking over the House of Sweden in Georgetown! The Summit will start at 8:00am with a continental breakfast and registration. By 8:30am the first session of Roundtables will start, which include Legislation, Enforcement, and Stormwater Technologies. Then the morning plenary will feature keynote speaker Colin Beavan aka No Impact Man and the signing of the Potomac River Watershed Trash Treaty by regional elected officials. Lunch and snacks will be provided trash:free by Occasions Caterers. A second set of Roundtables will take place in the afternoon. Lastly, all will be welcome to enjoy the magnificent view of the Potomac River from the House of Sweden's rooftop for the wrap up and gelatos. It is going to be another fantastic event and all are welcome.

Of course the Trash Summit needs a team of organizers and this year isn't any different. We are excited to welcome Amanda Fulwood, Nadine Bloch, Matthew Alcide and Cole Haymond. Each will play their part to assist with development, organizing and promoting the Summit.

Here is a run down of the actions being taken within our Five:Core Components Framework:

Public Education
AFF is looking to hire a creative firm to develop an anti:litter campaign that can be used throughout the watershed.

In June, the Regional Council on Illegal Dumping was formed to begin necessary communications between jurisdictions and staff who deal with illegal dumping. The Council has been meeting once a month learning about how each jurisdiction handles their littering and illegal dumping crimes.

The District of Columbia has recently unanimously passed a 5:cent bag fee on both paper and plastics. This fee will start in January 2010 and will be dedicated to protecting and restoring the Anacostia River.

Data has been collected and will be analyzed to being the process of drafting a Trash Total Maximum Daily Load. Monthly meetings are keeping the regulators and nonprofits working collaboratively.

Market Based Approaches
The Alice Ferguson Foundation with a committee of experts developed the Trash Free Potomac Facility Program. This TFPF Program is a way for businesses and workplaces to become trash:free and get recognized for their efforts. AFF and fifteen other facilities are piloting it for the next six months.


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

Bridging the Watershed Educators Involve Area Students in National Public Lands Day By Rhonda Scott::>

On September 26th, our Student Action Coordinator Becca Fordham worked with National Capital Parks:East and area teachers to bring forty BTW students to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens for National Public Lands Day. Students from Freedom High School in Prince William Co. Virginia, Northwestern High School in Prince George's Co., Maryland, and Poolesville High School in Montgomery Co., Maryland, joined other volunteers as they set out picking up trash, pulling invasive plants, and removing Lotus (to make room for new growth) from the ponds.

BTW Educators were thrilled to see former BTW students return to area parks. They were very enthusiastic and asked "Can we do that again?" Thanks so much to their teachers, park staff, and all others involved.

National Public Lands Day.  Photo by Becca Fordham

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Come Join the Fun as Alice Ferguson Foundation Gears Up for 29th Oktoberfest!
October 10th from 1:6 PM


Because of the economy we won't be able to have Oktoberfest T:shirts this year. We are disappointed about this but we decided to put a fun spin on it:

All Hard Bargain Farm Oktoberfest T:shirt owners are invited to dig for their T:shirts from previous years, wear them this year and participate in a contest. The two categories are

  1. The oldest T:shirt (dating back when?)
  2. The most loved (aka most worn) T:shirt

The two winners will each receive a whole original Oktoberfest strudel!

Do you enjoy fall? Are you social? Do you love great food and drink? Well, do we have an event for you!

Each fall, we open our gates to the public for a celebration of the season. Enjoy mouthwatering German food and beer (Spaten), authentic Bavarian dancing with the "Alt Washingtonia Schuhplattlers", and other "good times":

  • Savor delicious German food à la carte: bratwurst, potato salad, sauerkraut, and homemade apple strudel;
  • Enjoy high:spirited, authentic performances of dances from Bavaria and Austria and join Schuhplattler Alt:Washingtonia on stage for audience:participation waltzes;
  • Shop for bargains and homemade delicacies at our country store in the gazebo;
  • Hop on the haywagon for a ride to the Potomac River;
  • Visit the animals in the barnyard;
  • Squeeze apple cider with an old fashioned cider press;
  • Bid on local art, crafts and food items at Silent and Live Auctions.
  • Stop at our membership table and learn about other Hard Bargain Adventures.

General admission is $8. We hope to see you all!

For more information and directions to the farm, visit our Website (www.fergusonfoundation.org/oktoberfest.shtml

eins zwei...by Doris SharpAlt Washingtonia Schuhplattlers.  Photo by Bill TownsendDoris'stack of strudels
Country Store.  Photo by Bill TownsendKids'Activities at Oktoberfest. Photo by Bill TownsendSilent Auction.  Photo by Bill Townsend


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One Goat Triplet Found New Home
By JoAnn Ptack

We would like to thank the Ferguson Foundation for allowing us to adopt one of the farms pigmy goats. After our elderly horses died our barn was a very sad place. Our solitary goat, Peggy, seemed rather lonesome and a companion goat seemed just the ticket. In late August, with the help of Eileen and Brenda Wright, we chose one of triplets born last March. Our granddaughters named her Millie on the drive home and we were all excited about introducing her to Peggy. I have always found animals to be a learning adventure and this was certainly no exception.

We were grateful that Eileen had warned us that there would be some butting involved as the goats got acquainted. As predicted there was a lot of butting, so much so that we decided to put them in adjoining stalls with the partition boards lifted so they could see but not reach each other. Each stall had food and water buckets, hay racks, a wire spool to jump on and salt blocks. We left the goats to get acquainted only to find a short time later that little Millie was making a break for home. I recalled Eileen mentioning that one of her parents "could really jump". A number of tobacco sticks were installed from the top of the stall to the ceiling. All seemed secure until we discovered that Millie could also dig. We solved the digging with a board across the bottom of the stall door. I then spent a number of hours over several days in the pasture with a leash on Peggy and Millie dragging a leash behind her so that one could be restrained and the other caught as the need arose.

Millie has been with us just about a month and we are happy to report that she and Peggy are now best of friends. Given the simplicity of our landscaping and remote location they are able to roam around freely when we are home. They never go too far, come when called and love a good back rub. They occasionally "knock" on the door to come in, we are careful not to answer so that training continues in the proper direction. I would prefer that they not stand on my porch chairs and look in the window but it is always fun to see them. Millie and Peggy have certainly brightened our lives and for that we thank you all.

Note: The Ptack family lives on a large farm in Charles County.


Farm Report
By Eileen Watts, Farm Manager

Remember that we also have hay ($3,75/bale), eggs ($3.50/dozen), chickens (broilers $3.50/lb, stewing hens/$7 each), pork and beef products for sale.
We had hoped to cut some hay for a late second cutting but weather and other circumstances have prevented it. If not cut for hay, the grass will be grazed this winter.

Our sixth calf for '09 was born mid:month, but of the six only two are males to be kept for beef. Female animals make good beef as well (males of the same age usually have a little more muscle mass). Keeping them from breeding with their dad during the about two and a half years it takes to get to slaughter size would necessitate keeping them in separate pastures. Solving that problem would nearly double our cattle:tending time and fencing requirements. Five heifers nearing one:year of age were recently removed from the herd and are residing in our bull pen (no bull) until we make the decision to swap them for steers or swap them for non:related females. One heifer will definitely be kept here. She is a Red Angus and just needs to get to about eighteen months of age before rejoining the herd and being bred for the first time.

Students from Valley View Elementary with the new piglets.  Photo by Brenda Wright
Piglets Marco and Polo.  Photo by Brenda Wright

Two cute five:week old piglets were purchased on September 14th. The first group of children to see them that day quietly sat down around the carrier that still contained the little pigs. The door was opened and the children just watched for many minutes. The male came out first, cautiously, and began investigating his new surroundings. As he sniffed around he kept in constant contact with the female, who just wanted to stay in the carrier, by oinking and getting an instant oink back. This rapid fire "talk" went on and on. One kid (Valley View Elementary from Oxon Hill) finally said, "It's like Marco Polo:who was an explorer!" And a pool game with lots of talk and back talk, as well. So the brave and bold one became Marco and his companion is Polo. Naming the pigs is done!


The Buzz at Hard Bargain Farm: AFF Staff members enter the wonderful and wacky world of Beekeeping

Painting of behives in the orchard by Lona Powell
Painting of the bee hives in the orchard
by Lona Powell. This painting will be up
for silent auction at the Oktoberfest.
This past spring, Hard Bargain Farm became the new home for about forty thousand pollinators, as Bridging the Watershed Educators Rebecca Fordham and Anna Wadhams brought two bee hives to the orchard. This is the first foray into beekeeping for both educators, and as the month pass, the honey bees continue to be a constant source of amusement and never fail to surprise.

Why keep bees? Well, apart from the fact that you'll have a constant supply of delicious honey superior to any you'll find in the supermarket, you'll be doing the Earth a favor. One third of the food we eat is dependent upon pollination, and sadly, colonies of honey bees have been disappearing at an alarming rate. Scientists are still trying to find out why honey bees are vanishing, but while they continue their research, it's up to us "citizen scientists" to continue the thousand year old hobby.

To learn more about bees, let's begin with what a bee "hive" actually is. Beehives have evolved over the centuries from tree trunks to woven baskets, and today the most common hives look like a pile of boxes with handles. Believe it or not, those boxes are the home to up to 30,000 insects!

Each box you see stacked in a hive is called a "super". Supers are used for storing frames of either brood (honey bee eggs and larvae) or honey. Supers come in different sizes. The most common sizes are medium or deep. Deep supers are typically used to store brood, and are also referred to as brood chambers, while mediums are used to store honey. A super is simply a wooden box with ledges at either end which suspend frames.

Frames are where all the action happens! They have a wooden top, bottom, and sideboards with a sheet of foundation wax stamped with hexagonal cell shapes that give worker bees a start in the honey making process. Frames in the hive are spaced about 6mm apart, giving bees their "bee space", which allows them to move between frames with ease.

Bottom Boards
Bottom boards form the base of the hive. You can either have a solid bottom board or a screened bottom board. Beekeepers usually use screened bottom boards in the summer to allow for proper ventilation, and to help control pests that may be crawling through the hive.

Check out our next newsletter to find out more about honey bees, including:

  • What makes a drone a drone
  • The fashion and function of protective clothing
  • How to handle sassy bees
  • Keep your hive alive: how to protect your bees from parasites.

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"Concert in the Woods"
By Doris Sharp

Mac Walter, Barbara Martin and Steve Wolf performing at Hard Bargain Farm Amphitheater.  Photo by Bob Christensen
Grace Griffith, Lynn Hollyfield and Jimmy Brink performing at Hard Bargain Farm Amphitheater. Photo by Bob Christensen
On Sunday, August 23, Mac Walter (guitar), Steve Wolf (bass) and Barbara Martin (vocals) presented a wonderful evening of jazz, blues, and standards. The audience was small but enthusiastic. On September 12 ,Grace Griffith and Lynn Hollyfield with drummer Jimmy Brink offered sweet acoustic sounds with a repertoire that runs the gamut from traditional British Isle ballads to original songs of experiences, with just enough humor to top it off.

This year the weather played along beautifully:each concert was held at the amphitheater under the stars. Sometimes the musicians had to compete with katydids:what an experience!


"Theater in the Woods
By Doris Sharp

Because of unforseen circumstances the Hard Bargain Players had to cancel the show "Translations" by Brian Friel. In its place they will perform "Bash: Latter Day Plays" by Neil LaBute. Performances will be October 8, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24 at 8 p.m. For more information please check out the Players website www.hbplayers.org and see article below.


Getting It Right

Cast of Bash
Cast of Bash discussing the play.
Bash Flyer, click to enlarge
Hard Bargain Players cast sets out to understand better their roles...

The Hard Bargain Players have set out to perform Neil LaBute's highly controversial play bash, latter:day plays (View Flyer). Director Craig Hower is not interested in leaving any stone unturned to get it right. So, one night at the amphitheater in the woods, Hower and his cast sat down with an inactive member of the Church of Latter:Day Saints to get all the facts straight.

"When I first approached the text, I wasn't sure of the fact that all of the characters being Mormon really had all that big of an influence on the outcome," Hower said. "But the deeper we got in to it we began to realize that there had to be a foundation for some of this decision making and it had to be the Church. LaBute has left very little to chance. Every word and action has been chosen very carefully. So we have to do the same."

Bash is a series of one:act plays centering around four basically good people who find themselves in situations where they have done very bad things. Originally staged in New York in 1999, the play has been presented in venues around the world, but rarely in the D.C. area. Hower has tried to get it produced in Southern Maryland multiple times over the last several years with no success. "I'm not sure why people get so nervous around it [the play]. It's great theatre and an incredible opportunity for an actor to stretch himself." For the stretch, Hower has assembled some of the most talented actors in the region. In the first piece, A Gaggle of Saints, Kristen Page:Kirby and Michael Mortensen tell the story of a young couple taking a weekend off from college to go to a black tie party in New York City. The second piece, Ipheginia in Orem, features Michael Margelos telling his story as a traveling salesman to an unseen woman in his hotel room. The third piece, Medea Redux, has Mel Gilpin pouring out the details of her character's romance with her junior high teacher. "It truly is a love story," Gilpin says.

To better understand what Hower called "the foundation of character," the group met with Holly Bednar for an evening to tell her their stories and get a better understanding of how a religious upbringing in the Mormon Church would help form the characters that they were portraying. "I saw a lot of light bulbs go on," Hower says. "It was time very well spent." Bednar attended BYU in Utah in the mid 80's, around the time the plays are set, and was married to a Mormon for several years. "She was very much a part of that church community. Holly's insight on this was invaluable," Hower stated. "We needed that perspective that lapsed Catholics, out of practice Protestants and a Jewish girl just didn't have on their own.

"Our goal is not to offend anyone but to do the play the justice it deserves. We can't do that without a better understanding of the mind set that we're dealing with here. I think this is going to be amazing but it needed that extra research that you don't find laying around just anywhere."


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