Naperville’s population has grown from around 22,000 in 1970 to nearly 150,000 today. A lot has changed in the city in the past 40 years.
But one thing has remained the same – The Conservation Foundation.
The nonprofit foundation has been preserving land and improving water quality in seven counties since 1972 and is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
In 1998, the organization moved its headquarters from Wheaton to McDonald Farm in Naperville. The farm is now a beacon of what The Conservation Foundation tries to teach.
“We hope that when people come to McDonald Farm…they’ll leave with one idea, hopefully, that they can implement in their home or place of work,” said Brook McDonald, the Foundation’s President and CEO.
Much of the Foundation’s conservation efforts have been achieved with something as simple as a water garden or a rain barrel.
Of course, they utilize some bigger efforts as well – including the large wind turbine fan that provides 30-percent of the electricity needed to power the main office on McDonald Farm.
But the farm is just one of many spaces that the Foundation was preserved over the past 40 years. On most of them, sustainable agriculture is grown.
“The sustainable way to do agriculture is to be as organic as possible,” says McDonald. “You use less fertilizer, less chemicals and less water irrigation.”
On September 16th, McDonald Farm will host the Foundation’s 40th anniversary celebration. Families can look forward to hayrides, a petting zoo, live music and demonstrations of antique farming equipment.
“We wanted to focus on families,” said Chere Hayes, the Director of Development at the Foundation, as well as event organizer for the anniversary celebration. “So we thought, what better way than to get them here and experience [the farm]? Because it’s not until you experience it that you understand how important open space is.”
That’s why much of the farm will be left as-is come the 16th, as a means of teaching visitors the role they play in conservation.
The Foundation has preserved over 30,000 acres of land in its 40-year history. In fact, McDonald Farm alone account for 60 of those acres – especially impressive considering it’s nestled right in the heart of suburban Naperville.
“The fact that we’re surrounded by sprawling subdivision…places like McDonald Farm are going to be more special and more unique,” said McDonald.
So when visitors leave the 40th anniversary celebration, it’s the Foundation’s hope that more people will do the little things to help conserve our land.
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