News & Press

Offers Now Being Received for Purchase of River Farm

The American Horticultural Society (AHS) is pleased to announce that it has officially begun receiving offers from prospective buyers interested in purchasing the nonprofit’s historic property in Alexandria, Virginia. The pristine 27-acre River Farm was placed on the market in late 2020, with AHS setting January 4, 2021, as the date it would begin to receive offers from interested parties. No formal deadline for offer submissions has been established.

River Farm is located on the banks of the Potomac River and was once part of George Washington’s original farmlands. The property includes open fields, beautiful gardens, sweeping views of the river, and a stately 1920’s manor house which has served as AHS’s headquarters since the 1970s.

The sale offers a once in a lifetime opportunity for a new steward to take ownership of River Farm.  River Farm is listed for $32.9 million by Sue Goodhart of The Goodhart Group, Compass Real Estate. The listing price is based on fair market rates and was set following a competitive analysis of other properties for sale in the area. The AHS board will carefully review all offers submitted and hopes to identify a suitable buyer in the next few months. The ideal buyer will be a nonprofit, organization, or individual dedicated to preserving and maintaining the property’s historic integrity.

“River Farm is indeed a unique and special property and we are thrilled to now be receiving offers from entities interested in owning both the property and its legacy,” said Terry Hayes, AHS Board Chair. “We have had great interest from a number of potential buyers and welcome all interested parties to submit their offers in the coming weeks.”

AHS, a national nonprofit dedicated to sharing the art and science of growing plants throughout the United States, plans to utilize funds from the sale to establish an endowment for their nearly 100-year-old organization, which has faced difficult economic challenges in recent years, including lost revenue in event rentals and AHS programming during the pandemic, and the costs of maintaining River Farm. An endowment will provide essential financial stability to the organization and allow it to continue and grow its programming across the country.

Watch this video of River Farm
Details on the listing are available HERE.
For inquiries, contact Sue Goodhart at sue@thegoodhartgroup.com or (703) 362-3221

 

News & Press

Setting the Record Straight About the Sale of River Farm

For nearly 100 years, the American Horticultural Society (AHS) has called Alexandria, Virginia home. Our national nonprofit, dedicated to sharing the art and science of growing plants throughout the country, was founded in Alexandria in 1922. In the early 1970s, we purchased and moved our headquarters to River Farm, former farmland that, centuries ago, was owned by George Washington. We feel privileged to be among the stewards who have owned and cared for this property. This past September, due to our organization’s financial challenges, we announced River Farm would be put up for sale.

Since that announcement, there have been widespread rumors and misstatements of fact which we feel compelled to correct.

Contrary to many recent reports and statements, our desire is to not sell River Farm for future subdivision or development, but rather for it to remain a single-use property, preferably with continued opportunities for public access and enjoyment going forward.

We would also like to clear up questions that have been raised about the existence of binding obligations connected to the generous donation from former AHS Board Member Enid Haupt, which allowed us to purchase River Farm for our headquarters. It was at her request, but not a requirement or condition of the donation, that the public could have free access to walk and explore the grounds of River Farm during regular operating hours. While we have found no documents that create an obligation, we have been happy to honor Ms. Haupt’s wishes and have welcomed the community to enjoy AHS’s River Farm grounds at no charge since we established our headquarters here nearly 50 years ago.

Our purpose in selling River Farm is to pay expenses and create an endowment for our long-term survival. Like many small nonprofits, AHS has struggled financially in recent years and the pandemic has all but stopped essential revenue streams needed to maintain our day-to-day operations and our mission-focused programming while also shouldering the tremendous maintenance costs for the early 20th Century homestead at River Farm and its 27 acres of land. These serious financial challenges, among others, led to our board’s decision this fall to sell River Farm. The funds raised will allow our nonprofit to create an endowment that will ensure our organization and our programs can continue indefinitely

We understand the uneasiness our neighbors feel not knowing what the sale may mean for River Farm.  Contrary to published reports, we have worked diligently to be as transparent as possible and to have an open constructive dialogue with community leaders. In fact, we have been in – and continue to have –  ongoing bi-weekly conversations with Mount Vernon District Supervisor Daniel G. Storck and Paul Gilbert of NOVA Parks, among others, who have been working to put together a purchase offer that could meet both AHS’s objectives and those of the community. We have voluntarily extended timelines and been flexible with other considerations to support these community efforts to protect centuries-old River Farm.

We in turn ask for the community to recognize and support our efforts to protect our century-old, Alexandria-born nonprofit as we strive to keep our national mission alive for the next 100 years.

 

 

 

Terry Hayes, Board Chair
American Horticultural Society

 

News & Press

AHS moving in exciting new direction

 

October 20, 2020

Dear AHS Community,

Last month, the board of the American Horticultural Society shared with you that we were exploring the possibility of merging with the American Public Gardens Association (APGA). Our goal has been to look at a variety of possibilities and identify the best solution that would allow for the continuation of our national programming during very difficult financial circumstances for AHS. The solution has had to be proactive, deliberate, and dramatic in the face of the pandemic and its effects on our revenue streams.

We have greatly appreciated your outreach and input, which the AHS board has heard and taken to heart. The resounding sentiment has been that we are proud of AHS’s century long legacy and greatly desire to find a solution that allows our mission – and the AHS name – to live on in the future with an increased national presence.  Our mission demands that we seek opportunities which expand geographic accessibility and programs that resonate with diverse communities across the United States from Alaska to Florida and from Maine to Hawaii.

With that in mind, rather than moving forward with a merger with APGA, our board has committed to maintaining AHS as an independent national nonprofit with its own board, staff and headquarters. The board is now working diligently to further develop a sustainable business model that would allow AHS to streamline expenses and continue operating as an independent national nonprofit organization for the next 100 years. The charge is to develop a model that would allow the varied programming and resources that our members across the United States know and enjoy to continue while adding new programming to keep AHS relevant and help it make a connection between people and plants. As part of this new model, we are focused on building collaborative relationships with APGA and other like-minded organizations who have a shared interest in building and expanding horticultural programming and other initiatives across the country.

In order to move forward with this renewed vision, we are dependent on the proceeds from the sale of River Farm. These funds would create a significant endowment that has been the missing link in our financial viability. Our hope is to find a buyer – a new steward – for River Farm who will work to preserve this beautiful and historic property.

Thank you for your past support which has been invaluable to AHS.  Your continued support and input is important and graciously received as we move in this exciting new direction.

Warmly,

 

 

 

 

Terry Hayes, Board Chair
American Horticultural Society

News & Press

Great American Gardeners & Book Awards Ceremony Going Virtual

Every year it’s our privilege to host a wonderful celebration at our River Farm headquarters recognizing the Great American Gardeners Award recipients. This year however due to extraordinary times, we’re pleased to honor our Award Winners virtually on the web and across social media platforms. Follow the American Horticultural Society on social media where, beginning in mid-June, we will be sharing video messages from this year’s horticultural champions about the inspiring work that they do. It is our hope that by honoring our award winners in the online sphere, it will provide more exposure to their accomplishments.

Created in 1953, the AHS awards program recognizes exemplary professionals and organizations in horticultural fields, and outstanding garden-related authors and publishers. Each of our honorees is selected from nominations across the country for their efforts to advance and celebrate the art and science of horticulture. The 2020 honorees include:

  • Blocks in Bloom, a community outreach program in Rochester, NY instilling neighborhood pride through planting
  • Landon Reeve, IV, longtime supporter of the AHS through a position on the Board of Directors and grounds maintenance by Chapel Valley Landscape Company
  • Catharine McCord of Denver who designs garden spaces for children suffering from mental health issues or trauma
  • Steve Castorani whose Philadelphia-area North Creek Nursery was an early champion for the power and utility of native plants.
  • Ciscoe Morris, Seattle’s beloved Garden Guru and longtime grounds manager for Seattle University
  • Jessica Turner-Skoff, a treeologist at the Chicago-area Morton Arboretum inspiring the next generation of green collar workers with her Planted podcast
  • Charles “Chipper” Wichman whose 40 year career at Hawaii’s National Tropical Botanical Garden has been dedicated to the discovery and conservation of tropical plants
  • Dan Heims, President of Portland, OR’s Terra Nova Nurseries, breeder of over 1,000 new plant varieties
  • Nancy Ross Hugo who, through her floral design workshops, encourages participants to appreciate the unique beauty of every plant
  • Michael Balick, preeminent ethnobotanist working to preserve traditional plant knowledge and healing practices
  • Grow Dat Youth Farm, teaching leadership and work skills through growing to urban teens in New Orleans
  • Leslie Bennett who combats gentrification and displacement in Oakland, CA by creating culturally-relevant garden sanctuaries
  • James Folsom whose leadership, dedication, and vision have ensured The Huntington’s place as one of the country’s premier public gardens
  • Barry Fugatt, longtime educator in the Tulsa, OK garden community motivated by the desire to “sow seeds into the hearts and lives of people”

For more information on the 2020 honorees, please see ahsgardening.org/awardwinners. Celebrating the successes of our award winners brings attention to the important role that horticulture plays in the health and wellbeing of people and the planet and highlights career pathways for younger generations. Please consider supporting the AHS’s Awards program. Your gift will help us honor America’s best and brightest in the horticulture field and further spread the word about their important work.

News & Press

Join Our Membership Month Challenge

May is Membership Month at the American Horticultural Society (AHS), and all month long we’re recognizing friends like you for all you do to help promote sustainable gardening and build a community of responsible caretakers of the Earth.

During Membership Month, we’ve set a goal of expanding our AHS family by 100 members by May 31 to bring our programs and resources to more people across the country. To show our gratitude, when you join AHS in May 2020 with a donation of $25 or more—a savings of $10 off the regular membership rate—we’ll send you a FREE reusable, foil-insulated lunch bag!

You’ll also receive all the benefits of membership, including a free subscription to The American Gardener magazine, seed and plant discounts, book discounts, and more.

Support our Membership Month Challenge by joining today! 

News & Press

Five Tips for Buying Great Gardening Gloves

For many years, I preferred doing gardening tasks barehanded. Not only did I enjoy the feeling of getting my “hands in the dirt,” but I often found that working with gloves reduced my ability to handle small, delicate plants with care.  As I’ve gotten older, and the daily wear and tear takes more of a toll on my hands, I prefer to work with gloves, albeit the thinnest gloves possible. 

Here are five tips on buying garden gloves based on my personal experience:

  1. Invest in a variety of gloves. You’ll want to own both thick and thin gloves, depending on the nature of the work you’re performing. Thin gloves are affordable and great for quick tasks like carrying bags of soil, while thicker gloves hold up nicely for a day of working in the garden and can be worn under other work gloves when the soil is cold and wet.
  2. Select gloves with nitrile coating. I like nylon-knit gloves with the palm and fingers dipped in nitrile coating since it makes them waterproof and puncture resistant.
  3. Purchase gloves in bulk packs. Hand protection only works when you wear it, and it doesn’t do you any good if your sole set of gardening gloves is wet or in the laundry. Bulk packs ensure you have enough pairs on hand and provide better value as well.
  4. Minimize use of disposable gloves. For sustainability purposes, it’s best to avoid disposables. I try not to use them for routine tasks.
  5. Reserve heavy leather gloves for heavy-duty activities. Thick gloves tend to make my hands cramp up, so I only use them for tasks like moving stones.

 

Dan Scott is the Associate Director for Horticulture & River Farm at the American Horticultural Society.

News & Press

AHS Update on Public Visitation Hours at River Farm Headquarters

As a safety measure based on recent COVID-19 developments, the American Horticultural Society’s River Farm will be closed to the general public until further notice. The manor house will remain open for previously scheduled meetings. If you have related questions, please contact our Rentals office at 703/768-5700, x114 or rentals@ahsgardening.org.

In the meantime, we would be grateful for any contributions you can make to the American Horticultural Society, which owns and maintains River Farm, and which has lost substantial revenue from cancelled events and programs. Your support will help River Farm reopen as strong and vibrant as ever, once it is safe to do so. Thank you for donating now.

News & Press

11 Sustainable Gardening Hacks for Your Home Garden

If you’re part of the new wave of home or apartment dwellers looking for resources on starting an edible garden, you’re not alone. While the American Horticultural Society encourages supporting local garden centers, there are lots of ways you can start a garden without buying special materials. Here are some of our favorite sustainable gardening hacks using readily available items.

Seed Starting

  1. Save your citrus rinds and eggshells. Thoroughly cleaned of citrus pulp and egg whites, nature’s cups make great tiny pots.
  2. Another option is to use cardboard egg cartons, toilet paper rolls, or paper towel rolls as mini vessels. If the plants’ roots are growing through or out of the cardboard at the time of transplant, just put the whole thing in the ground. If not, soak the cardboard to remove it before transplanting the plant. Small plastic containers such as K-cups or yogurt cups can also be given a second life as seed starting vehicles, but when transferring seedlings to your garden bed, be sure to remove them from the cups.
  3. With a little extra work, newspaper and junk mail can also be crafted into little pots.

Garden Bed Construction

  1. For traditional gardens, create a nutrient-rich base layer by collecting yard waste like grass clippings and raked leaves. Scout for bags of leaves left out by the curb!
  2. If using a planter or container with a large hole at the bottom, cover the hole with a coffee filter and elevate it about ½” off the ground with a small piece of wood. This will allow drainage while keeping soil intact and preventing staining of hardscapes.
  3. Looking to create a raised bed garden or portable garden boxes? Try using wine crates, old wooden soda crates, plastic bulb crates lined with cardboard, or other topless wooden crates. Just make sure they have proper drainage.

Soil Enhancement

  1. Determine what nutrients your soil needs via a soil test. Test kits are often available through your county extension office, but you can perform a simple pH test with vinegar and baking soda.
  2. If you don’t compost at home, applying certain kitchen scraps directly to your soil will help boost nutrients. Eggshells contain calcium; coffee grounds are a great source of nitrogen; and banana peels provide potassium.

Garden Watering

  1. Water plants evenly (e.g., from a watering can instead of a cup). Create a DIY watering can by making small holes in the top of a juice, milk, or detergent jug.
  2. If you’re unable to water regularly, create a slow release watering system from wine bottles and insert them in damp soil.
  3. After cooking eggs or vegetables, don’t pour the water down the drain. Some nutrients from these cooked foods will leech into the water and can be used to feed plants.

News & Press

New AHS Member Benefit: 30% Discount off Gardening Books

Thanks to Princeton University Press, we’re able to offer members of the American Horticultural Society (AHS) a new benefit that’s ideal for garden planning and planting season.

Effective immediately, AHS members receive a 30% discount off all gardening books from the publisher. This includes The Gardener’s Botanical: An Encyclopedia of Latin Plant Names, written by horticulturist Ross Bayton and published in February 2020. Other discounted books include ones focused on pollinator gardening and wildflowers, among other topics.

To take advantage of this new member benefit, AHS members can log in to the member portal and access the discount code. Non-members can join the AHS to start enjoying member benefits!

News & Press

Renowned Horticulturist Holly Shimizu Shares Why You Should Join AHS


Whether you remember her as a host of “The Victory Garden” show on PBS, as the first curator of the U.S. National Arboretum’s National Herb Garden, or as the longtime Executive Director of the U.S. Botanic Garden, Holly Shimizu is a legend in the horticulture world. She also is a 2020 winner of the prestigious Scott Medal and Award from The Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College, and a Board Member of the American Horticultural Society (AHS).

See why Holly thinks you too should join the AHS, then join now for a limited-time $10 discount!