Tis The Season To Be Trash Free

December 14th, 2020

Written By Krupa Patel,
Trash Free Schools Coordinator

It’s said that 25 percent more trash is thrown away during the holiday months. My family and I make every effort to be trash free, especially during the holidays. From excessive wrapping paper and extra food waste, our communities and landfills are overflowing. I challenge you to make your holidays as trash free as possible. Here’s some little changes you can try that make a big difference…

  • Safely share homemade goodies by using reusable containers
  • Save cardboard boxes and plastic free packaging throughout the year so you’re all set when it’s time to wrap gifts. (I have requested family that if they have me for Secret Santa, that the gift be plastic free.)
  • Find alternatives to wrapping paper. Use items like fabric scraps, reusable canvas bags, newspaper, or even a basket.

 

  • Support small businesses. You’re buying directly from the business and saving the extra plastic packaging that would normally be used to ship. You can find a lot of small businesses that share environmental missions as you do. (I have found artisans that don’t use plastic in their product and packaging, i.e. ceramic earrings, soaps wrapped in cardboard, body lotion in aluminum or glass jars, etc.)
  • Buy experiences. Take a unique class together, purchase a membership, or begin planning a trip to a special place…safely of course. Give the gift of memories. (I even enjoy getting gift cards to yoga classes, because I wouldn’t want to buy for myself.)

 

There are many alternatives to make your holiday a trash free one, you just have to think outside of the box. Wishing you a safe and very Happy Trash-Free Holiday season!

 

Craft Time With Nature Nuts

December 1st, 2020

Take a look at some of the artistic pieces made by our Nature Nuts participants this past fall!

Nature Nuts Craft Examples

Woodland/Fairy Houses 

Children take a nature hike to collect natural materials found along the trails or shorelines to construct their own woodland/fairy houses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Children’s Garden Scarecrow

As a team, children work together to build a scarecrow for our Children’s Garden. They stuff the arms and legs of old clothing with hay from the farm and add their creatives touches to the shirt and make the face.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leaf Crowns

While on a walk in the woods, kids collect the fallen leaves to make their leaf crowns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bird Feeder using pine cones

Children collect pine cones, cover with peanut butter and roll them in bird seed, and attach a string so it can be hung for the birds to enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other crafts include Leaf Critters, Decorated Pumpkins, Turkey Creation using natural materials, Rainsticks and Luminaries.

More craft activities to come in Spring 2021.

We’re Thankful for Creepy Critters

November 16th, 2020

Spooky season may be gone, but creepy critters remain in our waterways…and that’s great! Small critters who live in the water and don’t have a backbone (our students know them as “macroinvertebrates”) are a very important part of our aquatic habitats. Plus, they can help us figure out the water quality of our streams and rivers. 

 

At Hard Bargain Farm, it’s not an unusual sight to see kids marching down a trail, wearing rubber boots and carrying nets and hand-held microscopes. They’re on their way to catch macroinvertebrates to investigate water quality!

Macroinvertebrates are a great clue about the health of our waterways. Some of these “creepy critters” don’t mind polluted waters, while others are extremely sensitive and can’t survive in streams with stormwater pollution such as runoff from farmlands, streets, neighborhoods, and factories. When things like fertilizers, pesticides, trash, oil, gas, and animal waste get in the water, some of the small aquatic animals are perfectly fine…and others aren’t. You can tell how clean or polluted the water is based on which small aquatic critters you find.

So this November, we’re thankful to these fascinating little creatures for testing the waters for us. And for the way kids shriek in surprise and delight as they discover these critters in the water, identify their names, and learn about the huge impacts people and pollution can have on our streams and rivers…and the small creatures that live in them.

Want to see how we collect and identify macroinvertebrates to test water quality? Check out our investigation of Accokeek Creek in this cool video: Is Your Stream Clean?

Birding on the Birdwalk

November 9th, 2020

This has been a strange year for everyone, however, not everything has been bad. With the roar of traffic absent, birders in the metropolitan area have been able to enjoy their passion in a way not possible for several decades. The constant hum of traffic has been replaced with the songs of birds and choruses of frogs. I have always enjoyed birding at Hard Bargain Farm but this year has been very special.

Unlike the fast pace of spring migration, where birds are in a hurry to reach their breeding grounds, the fall migration is much more subdued and relaxed. Warblers of every sort have been winding their way through the woods, while our beloved White-Throated Sparrows and Dark-eyed juncos have been arriving in mass and will stay throughout the winter. 

This year we have seen an explosion of Pine Siskins and Ruby-Crowned Kinglets. We have also had some Rare Visitors, A Sabine’s Gull several weeks ago decided to hang around for a few days and a Black-Bellied Whistling duck. The observations of the Black-Bellied Whistling Duck are now under review to be included in a scientific study on extreme migration variants.

– from the notebook of Bill Townsend, Alice Ferguson
Foundation educator and wildlife enthusiast

 

Check out the birds Bill has spotted so far this fall.

 

Next up for migration, wintering ducks.

SEE MORE DUCKS IN THE AREA

If you’d like to do some bird-watching of your own and see if you can spot some of the birds Bill has seen, come on down to Piscataway Park. Piscataway Park is open year-round from sunrise to sunset and the gate at Accokeek Creek Site opens at 9:00 am to access the inner parking lot. Learn more here.

To learn more about the birds in our area and across the world, visit ebird.org/explore.

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