Posts Tagged ‘Hard Bargain Farm’

Farm Feature: Exclusive Interview with Annie The Dairy Cow

June 25th, 2019
Have you heard the big news? One of our beloved team members, dairy cow Annie, is retiring this July. One of our educators sat down with her yesterday to get an exclusive.

Question: What are you looking forward to doing with your free time?

Annie: Catching up on Game of Barns (no spoilers please!) and continuing to hang out with my friends. And, of course, making cheesy jokes to make the chickens chuckle.

Question: What have you enjoyed most about being a part of the program at the farm?

Annie: One of my favorite things about being a dairy cow is just how awestruck kids are to see where milk comes from. It’s pretty huge to be a part of that experience.

Question: You shared the field with two goats, one donkey and two sheep. That’s a lot of personalities! Any gossip to share?

Annie: I have to say, I don’t have any beef with them. We’re all good friends!

Question: Did you learn any important lessons during the last 12 years?

Annie: Oh gosh. I’ve learned so much – from my hoofed friends, from the team, and from the kids themselves! But if I had to pick, I’d say goats Dash and Dot have always moooved me with their dedication. When they want something, even if it seems out of reach, they’ll still go for it. And often it works! So yeah, I’d say the lesson is to keep reaching!

Question: What’s going to happen to your position? Is the dairy cow program going away now that you’re retiring?

Annie: Absolutely not! The program’s here to stay. Dairy Cow Opal is joining the farm team this July and will take over for me. Opal is hoofing it from all the way in Michigan! If anyone wants to help with her trip, you can donate here.

Question: Are you planning anything special for Opal’s arrival?

Annie: Yes! I’m organizing a surprise party to welcome Opal to the farm. If you want to stop by to say “hay,” you can donate here to join the invite list.

Join us for a special celebration to welcome Opal and wish Annie a very happy retirement.


5 Things I Learned as an Alice Ferguson Foundation Intern

February 5th, 2019

By: Bryana Ellis


When I first got the news that I would be an intern for an organization in the town I grew up in, I was ecstatic. In 5th grade, I remember going to another farm for our big environmental science field trip, so I had only heard stories of Hard Bargain Farm from my older siblings and their friends. Growing up, visiting Piscataway Park had always been a fun and relaxing way to spend leisure time, but I did not know a lot about the area. Little did I know that my first internship that pertained to my major would open my eyes to so much.

Learning More About My Home

My first day was unlike any I’ve ever had before. After the casual meet-and-greet with coworkers, I was given the excellent opportunity to tour and learn so much about the history and legacy of the Alice Ferguson Foundation, Piscataway Park, and the Moyaone Reserve community. The most exciting part was my first interactive experience with seeing and feeding farm animals. Being raised in Accokeek, I discovered the trails and hidden ways of my neighborhood; it was hugely refreshing to see what was down these narrow dirt paths and hilly pastures. Not only did the beautiful view of the Potomac River await, but also a space full of history, heritage and a love of the environment.

Sustainability Isn’t Simple

Immersing myself with the culture of the Alice Ferguson Foundation wasn’t hard. My day might include drinking well water, making sure to separating regular trash from compost and recycling when throwing things again and more. Small daily tasks like that showed me how very simple, yet complex keeping our environment clean is. When I did research or draft content for social media, the statistics about good and harmful environmental factors are genuinely alarming. Reading and learning that 340,000 pounds of trash have been cleaned from your local communities in just one month is something to be elated over but educating yourself on how not to let the trash reaccumulate is even more important. My time at the Alice Ferguson Foundation has made me more aware of the products I use or the activities I partake in.

Social Media is Beyond Powerful

In a world where we are always on our phones, texting, tweeting, liking, or subscribing, the use of social networks can sometimes feel natural and innate. In my time creating newsletter, tweets, campaigns, and other post led me to honestly see how difficult the position of a social media content coordinator can be. The use of certain words, colors, or images has a ton to do with engagement and analytics. With each task, I felt myself growing more aware and deft with my work. Creating content for the Alice Ferguson Foundation has taught me the importance of staying true to the mission and being authentic. It is possible to care about the environment and reach the masses appropriately!

Places are Being Built to Save the World

When we think about construction and labor, we think about the daunting issues of pollution and emissions. During my time with the Alice Ferguson Foundation, I was given the opportunity to do research on the Living Building Challenge and learn more about centers across the globe that are built to be environmentally beneficial and support sustainability. The Foundation’s own Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation Environmental Center is a Living Building certified educational center. This information about these places are fascinating along with how they manage water use, generate power from solar panels, or have net zero energy is remarkable. Seeing technology and innovation thrive while supporting the environment is excellent!

Small Can Be Mighty

The staff size at the Alice Ferguson Foundation is not very big. Some days I would come in, and it would be very quiet, some days it would be bustling with non-ending phone calls and people walking up and down the stairs. Whether the attendance was three or thirty, I was always greeted with smiling faces of hardworking people. Their embrace has made me excel as an intern and provided me with the right tools to succeed after the internship ended. Their affable personalities made it easy for me to learn and be inspired about the world around me.

Celebrating 60 Years of Service to Our Community

October 24th, 2014

By Lori Arguelles, AFF Executive Director

It was 60 years ago today that the pioneers of the Alice Ferguson Foundation (AFF) realized the first fruits of their labors. On October 24, 1954 the Articles of Incorporation for the Foundation were approved and AFF was “born.” This momentous act has had lasting impact during the last six decades including:

– Serving more than 300,000 students through our environmental education programs at our Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center and in national and state parks through our Bridging the Watershed Program.

alice henry – Engaging more than 130,000 volunteers in the annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup by removing more than 7 million pounds of debris over the past 26 years.

– Leading the way in energy efficient and green building design by embracing the Living Building Challenge © as we construct and renovate buildings on our educational campus. The net-zero energy, net-zero water, and zero-waste criteria, combined with carbon-neutral and non-toxic, non-polluting component requirements make this a ground-breaking and landscape-altering undertaking.

Throughout the decades, the Foundation has stayed true to its guiding principles of education, inspiration, and innovation. And the impact is both deep-rooted and widespread as evidenced by the experience of one 10-year old student from Heather Hills Elementary School:

“I couldn’t wait until my overnight trip to Hard Bargain Farm. My first activity was a hike through the woods. We learned about pollution and how it harms living organisms. That one hike changed my whole point of view about the environment. In the future I see myself stopping someone from littering to protect the animals and nature.”

Surely our namesake, Alice Ferguson, would appreciate how her vision of a special place in nature has been embraced by student and adult learners alike. And we are proud that Alice’s vision for Hard Bargain Farm has been recognized as nationally significant. Just in time for our Diamond Jubilee celebration the Farm was selected for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. This prestigious roster is the official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. As anniversary gifts go, this is definitely a gem!IMG_0486
But the greatest gift of all is the privilege of sharing the wonder and beauty of nature with a child for the first time. Nothing can match the eye-opening and often life-changing experiences that come from this connection. We couldn’t do any of this without the generous support of friends like you. Thank you for helping us to make a difference!
If you’d like to make a special gift in honor of our anniversary, please visit our donation page. Thank you for your support, and Happy Anniversary!

Spring Fever at Hard Bargain Farm

April 17th, 2014

By Ann Bodling, Children’s Garden Associate

Annie and goatsYou know how it is, those first warm days of spring, when you feel you can tackle any adventure that comes to mind and no destination is deemed too far away. Our barnyard animals had just such a day, a couple of weeks ago and several Hard Bargain Farm staff spotted our cow, goats, barnyard rooster and turkey in unexpected places. As it was also a day of many students going through our barnyard gates, opportunities for escape were plentiful, and apparently, too good to pass up.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt some point in the morning, Annie, our cow, and Dot and Dash, our goats, found an open portal to adventure and moseyed up the road leading from the barnyard to the Farmhouse. All ended well, as Eileen, our farm manager and Karen, our facilities manager escorted them back down the road and into the barnyard for a little while, at least. A few hours later, Dot and Dash discovered yet another unsecured gate and let themselves out for a bit of grazing, though they stayed near to home this time and reluctantly allowed themselves to be led back to where they belonged.

Wanderlust was not just a mammalian state of mind on that eventful day. Among the fowl who call Hard Bargain Farm home are a tom turkey who was raised among chickens and a wildish rooster who came to us from one of our naturalist’s flocks. Both must have been feeling the tug of springtime and, seemingly, both felt the urge to find our hens, housed a ways up the hill from the barnyard. Later in the day, I found the rooster looking quite at home in the one chicken yard that lacked a male, and the turkey strutting and gobbling outside all of the chicken yards, in turn.

Turkey and Rooster in Black Stars Yard 003When you attend Spring Farm Festival on May 3rd, you will find our turkey and rooster happily dwelling among the hens, rather than down in the barnyard where they once lived. You will also be able to visit with our cow and goats, as well as our sheep and lambs, donkey and geese down in the barnyard. As exciting as was our day of Spring Fever, we prefer to know the whereabouts of all our animal members. After all, they are family.

Getting the Most Out of a Field Study to Hard Bargain Farm

January 9th, 2013

By Becky Williams

In my role as Naturalist/Educator for Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center, I look forward to my visits to school classrooms both before and after the students come to the Farm for a two day field study.

As I arrive at the school office, I hear, “the lady is here from the Farm” or “the kids are really excited about coming to the Farm!”   I am often carrying a large bag of “trash” for the Trash Timeline activity in which we discuss how long it takes for common items of “trash” to decompose.  The activity helps introduce students to concepts they will learn at the farm, including decomposition and the energy cycle.  The activity also prepares students for their challenge to bring a Trash Free Lunch on their trip; often, this concept is new to the students, yet they embrace the challenge.

As I begin to learn what the students already know and what they need to know for their trip, I am struck by their excitement and willingness to explore a new setting, gather eggs, hike for 2 hours and have a campfire.  Often I work with the groups at the farm and am able to reflect back on the previsit, as we share these experiences.

When I return for the post visit after their field study, I am able to reinforce what they’ve learned through our Food Chain/Energy Cycle activity that expands their interest in concepts learned at the Farm. This lesson develops a feeling of empowerment and responsibility in their roles in their environment.

As a former teacher, I believe these classroom visits (before and after the field study) both augment and reinforce the learning and teaching potential of the field study.  I encourage teachers to take advantage of these outreach opportunities!

For more information and how you can participate in Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center Outreach please contact Sara Campbell at [email protected].