When Alice and Henry Ferguson purchased Hard Bargain Farm (their purchase included a farmhouse, serveral structures, fields, woodlands, and the Potomac shoreline with a beautiful view of Mount Vernon) along the Potomac River in Accokeek, Maryland in 1922, they had no idea how significant an impact the 138-acre plot of land would have on the surrounding area. Hard Bargain Farm was a summer and weekend retreat that became an escape for the friends and family of the Fergusons and acted as the setting for Alice to fully develop her creative and philanthropic nature. Following Alice's death, Henry established the Alice Ferguson Foundation in 1954 and later donated their property to Piscataway Park in an effort to preserve the riverfront beauty and his wife's legacy. The foundation executed its mission to provide experiences that encourage connections between people, the natural environment, farming, and the cultural heritage of the Potomac River Watershed by offering educational programs for the entire community. To read more on the history of the Ferguson's visit http://fergusonfoundation.org/history/the-ferguson-era/.
In 1989, the foundation expanded their outreach by organizing a two-site litter cleanup on the Piscataway Park shoreline in collaboration with Accokeek Foundation/National Colonial Farm. The amount of trash removed inspired the staff to make it an annual event. After five years of growth the cleanup expanded to the entire Potomac Watershed, which includes the sizeable area that drains into the Potomac River in addition to the immediate shoreline. The concern for the health of the whole watershed sparked the proposal of the Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative.
This Initiative consists of key components and programs aiding in the vision of a trash free watershed by 2013. One of these components, The Potomac Watershed Treaty, is a tangible representation of the commitment all residents of the Potomac Watershed have pledged to the 2013 goal. Presently, 63 signatures of area elected officials adorn the treaty (including Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett), promising to, "dramatically improve the enjoyment of the rivers and streams of the Potomac Watershed."
On March 31st and April 1st 2007, 402 sites in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia were registered with the Annual Potomac Watershed Cleanup. As the largest regional event of its kind, 8,270 volunteers removed 237.54 tons of trash in two days. The 2007 contribution brings the 19-year total to an impressive 50,000 volunteers removing 1,467 tons of trash with the help of over 300 partner organizations, businesses, and government agencies!
- Potomac River Watershed Trash Treaty
- The Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative Student Action Committee
WHAT IS A WATERSHED?
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