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!


How To Organize A Cleanup

10:30 am - 11:30 am How To Organize A Cleanup

How To Organize A Cleanup

6:30 pm - 7:30 pm How To Organize A Cleanup

District Adopt-A-Stream Workshop

10:30 am - 11:30 am District Adopt-A-Stream Workshop

Annual Member Meeting

2:00 pm - 3:00 pm Annual Member Meeting

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?

Alice Ferguson Foundation Kicks Off Season of Cleanup Events

October 15th, 2020

New Training Resources Encourage Safe, Socially-distanced Micro-Cleanups this Fall

Accokeek, MD – On September 26, the Alice Ferguson Foundation kicked off its annual cleanup events season as it celebrated National Public Lands Day by cleaning up its Living Shoreline on shore of the Potomac River in Piscataway Park. Alice Ferguson Foundation’s annual spring cleanups had been postponed from April due to the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic.

Each year, thousands of volunteers receive free bags and gloves from the Alice Ferguson Foundation and participate in cleanup events in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC. Data collected by the volunteers is shared with local officials to support and measure the impact of proven trash and litter reduction policies such as bag fees and foam bans.

“Instead of doing large cleanup events, we are encouraging people to do smaller cleanups with their friends and families,” said Samantha Battersby, Trash Free Cleanup coordinator. “We have resources and information on how we can stay safe and healthy while still giving back to the environment.”

Two friends collecting plastic bottles from their cleanup site.

Virtual workshops and at-home cleanups have replaced the usual in-person trainings and the annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup, which draws more than 10,000 volunteers each year. So far this year, the Alice Ferguson Foundation hosted seven virtual events for a total of 110 volunteers who learned how to safely organize and lead a successful cleanup.

“Trash is still a problem and it’s not going to just go away by itself. It’s more important than ever for us to provide the tools and tips for individuals and families to make a green difference in the communities they live in,” said Battersby. “Workshop participants are taking what they’ve learned and hosting safe, micro-cleanups.”

Participants are invited to share pictures of their socially distanced cleanup using the hashtag, #PotomacCleanup. Volunteers interested in participating in this years’ cleanup events can contact Samantha Battersby or learn more at PotomacCleanup.org.

The Alice Ferguson Foundation connects people to the natural world, sustainable agricultural practices, and the cultural heritage of their local watershed through education, stewardship, and advocacy.  Learn more at fergusonfoundation.org.

Gates Reopen for Programs at Hard Bargain Farm

September 12th, 2020

Accokeek MD – The Alice Ferguson Foundation is offering a variety of engaging hands-on outdoor programs this fall, including interactive activities for small groups, families, and young children at its historic farm and environmental campus.

“With most of our area schools switching to online learning, it’s more important than ever for kids and families to spend time outdoors, exploring and learning about the world beyond their computer screen,” said Theresa Cullen, Alice Ferguson Foundation’s Executive Director. “We’re eager to welcome students and their families back to Hard Bargain Farm to enjoy our fun, outdoor, and socially distant activities.” 

New educational programs include:

  • Nature Nut Wednesdays, an outdoor play pod and enrichment program for early childhood and elementary-age students, filled with outdoor adventures, laughter, and learning. Featuring five-weeks sessions in the morning or afternoon.
  • Small Group and Family Visits, to visit with the barnyard animals, explore the wetlands and woods with a nature hike or birdwalk, or discover where food comes from as you learn about farming and agriculture at our 1930’s era working farm.
  • And more…


The Alice Ferguson Foundation is following the best health safety practices from local health authorities, school officials and Center for Disease Control and Prevention in implementing all of its on-site programming. The Alice Ferguson Foundation will also be engaging schools and students in science-based learning through its virtual field trips and online academic programs. Learn more about Alice Ferguson Foundation’s school virtual program offerings here. 

For more than 65 years, the Alice Ferguson Foundation has shared the wonder and excitement of outdoor hands-on learning with students and residents of Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC. Located on 330 acres of working farmland, emergent wetlands, and the longest, freshwater Living Shoreline in the nation, the staff and educators of Alice Ferguson Foundation have provided transformative environmental education experiences for nearly half a million area students since 1954. Alice Ferguson Foundation’s team of educators are a critical provider of equitable access to learning that builds environmental literacy skills and connects over 8,000 students to the wonders of their local watershed, and their role in stewarding it. 

Learn more at fergusonfoundation.org.

Nature Nut Wednesdays

10/19/2020 - 11/20/2020
9:00 am - 5:30 pm Nature Nut Wednesdays
Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center, Accokeek Maryland