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Giving Back, for the Love of Birds

Celebrating a century of the Bedford Audubon Society.

Photography by: Francesco Lagnese
My granddaughter, Jude, was transfixed as she studied the exquisite Audubon images that I had reproduced on fabric to use as wall hangings, table skirts, and a banner for the afternoon cocktail benefit.

Each year, I like to support local organizations by hosting benefits at my farm in Bedford, New York. Last fall, I worked with the board of the Bedford Audubon Society to celebrate its 100th anniversary. On a spectacularly beautiful afternoon, an avid group of bird lovers gathered to honor this venerable institution and support its mission to protect and preserve wildlife and habitats in and around our region.

Photography by: Francesco Lagnese
A giant antique wicker cornucopia, a gift to me from designer John Derian, held a display of varied pumpkins and squash. The long table was draped with a skirt showcasing five of Audubon’s magnificent American bird prints. They were transferred onto a single piece of fabric that was hemmed and tacked to the edge of the table. (For the window hanging seen above, I hemmed the fabric with channels for dowels on the top and bottom.)

I have 45 bird feeders on the farm, and I am a longtime admirer of all kinds of birds -- from majestic bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, and elusive owls to the diminutive ruby-throated hummingbirds searching for nectar all over my gardens. Hosting such a party was a natural and lovely opportunity to say thank you to the society. This chapter does so much good work both for the environment and the community. (To find your local chapter, visit

The party was held in the cobblestone-paved stable courtyard.

My daughter, Alexis, and her two children and many of our friends attended the celebration. We were happy to look on as the society acknowledged donors, researchers, and honorees including Laura O’Donohue, an organic farmer in North Salem, New York, for the bird-friendly practices at her Snow Hill Farm, as well as Albert Caccese, for his years of work for Audubon New York and for securing a critical land easement for natural bird habitats.

Photography by: Francesco Lagnese
Delicious, hearty fare was served atop rustic wooden boards; chef Pierre Schaedelin created a menu that was both flavorful and farm-fresh.

The day was pristine -- cool and clear -- and the farm looked its absolute best. I gathered colorful squash and pumpkins to use as decorations, and master carvers from Historic Hudson Valley embellished additional pumpkins with wonderfully intricate bird renderings. I picked herbs and vegetables to use in the preparation of hors d’oeuvres, and designed fabric banners, using Audubon art as inspiration, for wall and window hangings and table coverings. An “early bird” offering for special donors included a tour of the garden, with me as their guide.

Guests helped themselves to cheese straws from an artfully stacked crisscross, as well as seasoned nuts.

The stable’s cobblestone-paved courtyard was the ideal spot for the food and drinks, and because the party was late in the afternoon, the hors d’oeuvres were substantial and plentiful. My horses stayed in their stalls and offered a bit of humorous interjection throughout the event -- during the speeches and acknowledgments, they kicked the walls of their stalls in spirited agreement!

Photography by: Francesco Lagnese
Napkins were printed with various renderings of birds; delicious rose and other wines were poured.


Ground beef,
Printed napkins,
Pumpkins and gourds,
Pumpkin carving,

Recipes from Martha's Audubon Society Benefit Party