A newly formed community group, with strong support from Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), will kick off a fundraising campaign today in an effort to keep Turkey Run Farm open at least until Sept. 30.
Already the group -- Friends of Turkey Run Farm -- has received promises of more than $10,000 in private donations for the farm and its living history program set on 120 acres near the CIA in McLean.
Turkey Run, a working replica of a Colonial farm, was to have closed last month under a plan by the National Park Service to implement cutbacks of more than $3 million in Washington-area programs.
But the closing was delayed at the behest of Wolf, who asked the Park Service to give area residents time to raise private funds to keep Turkey Run open.
Park Service officials said the farm would be closed April 18 unless the group can assure the Park Service that there are firm pledges of $30,000, the amount of money needed to keep the farm open through May 31. The money then must be in Park Service hands before June. An additional $50,000 would be needed to keep the farm open through Sept. 30, when federal funding ends.
The Friends of Turkey Run Farm, which kicks off its fundraising campaign at a press conference led by Wolf at 10 a.m. today at the farm, hopes to meet both those goals, "and to explore other options" to save the farm, according to a spokesman in Wolf's office.
Last year, more than 39,000 people visited Turkey Run Farm, including many area school children who participated in the farm's weekend camping program. More than 1,000 youngsters have participated in the camping program since it started four years ago.
The weekend trips, described by area teachers as an unusual and popular opportunity to go beyond the textbook, allows children to "travel back" to the 1770s and live as poor farm families of the Colonial area. Already this spring, at least 15 area school groups have scheduled camping trips to the farm.
Under current funding, Turkey Run has an annual budget of nearly $200,000, which covers the salaries of six full-time and three part-time employes and maintenance of the many buildings on the farm, including replicas of an 18th century barn and cabin, and a menagerie of animals.