AHS News & Blog

Message from AHS New Board Chair

Dear Members,


Monday, November 1, 2021 was special for all of us at AHS and River Farm – the day we re-dedicated ourselves to stewarding this historic property, announced a new Director, opened River Farm back up to the public, committed to working with public officials and our stakeholders to protect River Farm in perpetuity and launched a fundraising initiative designed to build a bridge to AHS’s next 100 years. On a perfect fall day under an azure blue sky, set against the spectacular backdrop of beautiful River Farm, our Board of Directors gathered with AHS stakeholders and staff, Virginia elected officials, neighbors and the press to give everyone an update on all of these exciting developments. I am happy to share the key highlights with all of you.


First and foremost, the press event was an opportunity to thank our entire community for their support. Throughout the past year, when River Farm was under the very real threat of being sold for private development, the resulting outpouring of support from every single AHS stakeholder group was unprecedented. We’re convinced that the near-universal conviction that River Farm should remain as AHS headquarters and stay open to the public propelled us to achieve this wonderful outcome. On Monday, we heard heartfelt testimonials from the citizens’ groups and public officials who worked so diligently to keep River Farm as a spectacular natural space that future generations will continue to enjoy – and were able to acknowledge these key players for their efforts.


Towards that end, we are overjoyed to be able to welcome the public back to River Farm. After being closed for over a year, we’ve now opened our gates to our members and neighbors, to families and school children, to artists, to nature lovers – everyone who appreciates the incredible beauty of this unspoiled land with views that look very much the same as when George Washington purchased it as one of his original farms in 1760. When former AHS Board member and benefactor Enid Annenberg Haupt gave us $1 million that allowed AHS to purchase River Farm in 1973, her only stipulations were that the property would become AHS headquarters and be open to the public in perpetuity. We are very happy to continue to honor that promise and commitment.


A key highlight of the press event was the announcement of Keith Tomlinson as the new Director of AHS. Keith is renowned for both his horticultural accomplishments and his outstanding leadership skills. He brings an extraordinary wealth of professional and personal experience to the table that will help us navigate both the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. All of us here are delighted to welcome him to our team.  Please see the press release announcing his appointment here: AHS Appoints New Director, Keith Tomlinson – American Horticultural Society.


Finally, it was an honor to announce in person the $1 million gift my husband Klaus and I are making to ensure that both AHS and River Farm are on a sound financial footing going forward. My hope is that this gift will be a bridge to our future efforts to secure long-term endowment funding for both our national gardening programs and the long-term maintenance and protection of River Farm – and that others will join us in these efforts. As a starting point, please check out our online auction of wonderful items with proceeds going to support AHS and River Farm: 2021 AHS Online Auction.


Throughout the past year, we have been touched by your steadfast support and commitment to AHS, to River Farm and to the prospect of an exciting new vision and direction for our organization. As we look ahead to a brighter future, we look forward to sharing our progress and plans with all of you.


With gratitude and all best wishes,



Marcia Zech

Board Chair

American Horticultural Society


P.S. View Monday’s entire press conference.