The financially strapped Claude Moore Colonial Farm at Turkey Run in McLean has embarked on a new way to raise money: renting picnic pavilions.
Starting this week, Turkey Run, a working replica of a Colonial farm, will offer for rent three open-air pavilions in a secluded grove of dogwood, maples and poplar.
"It has been almost two years that we've been thinking about this," said Alice Starr, the farm's vice president for development. "It has taken a while to get donors and services, but we've known we've needed the extra income for some time."
The nonprofit farm has an annual budget of $100,000, which covers the salaries of three full-time and two part-time staff members as well as the maintenance of the buildings and menagerie of animals.
But, Starr says, Turkey Run needs another $50,000 to hire additional staff and to offer more programs for the farm's 30,000 annual visitors. Turkey Run's usual sources -- ticket sales, endowment proceeds, special events, the annual hog roast fundraiser -- just aren't enough.
"Our budget?" asked Anna Eberly, the farm manager. "Tight. As Dickens woudl say, 'We're living in reduced circumstances.'"
The pavilions are near the parking lot, not the working farm, and should not change life at Turkey Run, staff members say.
Also, picnickers will be asked to observe the farm's rules, which include a ban on amplified music. "No Beach Boys," said Eberly. "Or, only if they don't plug in."
The largest of the three pavilions can hold 250 people, and the others hold 125 each. All are adjacent to a five-acre field equipped for playing volleyball and throwing horseshoes.
Although Turkey Run officials cannot guess how much money the pavilions will bring in, they say anything will help. "The main thing is to support the farm," said Eberly.
The pavilions can be rented for $2 a person, although there is a $250 minimum for the large facility, and a $125 for the others. Reservations must be made in advance.
The pavilion area, which includes a graveled driveway, a small outdoor stage, restroom and barbecue grills, is estimated to have cost $250,000 to develop, Starr said. All materials and labor were donated by supporters.
Turkey Run's financial problems surfaced four years ago when the National Park Service announced it would close the facility because it was losing money.
The farm was saved by a group known as the Friends of Turkey Run, who raised $250,000 in two months, enabling the establishment of an endowment. The group current runs the farm on a long term lease fromm the National Park Servce.