Sustainability, greenhouses, and events with The Conservation Foundation

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Since 1992, The Conservation Foundation has worked out of McDonald Farm in Naperville, a 60-acre site located at 10S404 Knoch Knolls Road.

The organization is one of the area’s largest and oldest not-for-profits, helping protect rivers and watersheds, restoring open space, and promoting environmental respect.

NCTV17 spoke with the farm manager at McDonald Farm Russell Cerocke about The Conservation Foundation’s emphasis on sustainability, greenhouses and crop production, and upcoming farm events.

Sustainability at The Conservation Foundation

Sustainability is at the forefront of The Conservation Foundation’s mission. McDonald Farm has several solar panels and a wind turbine that provides approximately 25% of the farm’s total power needs.

“We also have a 10,000-gallon cistern of water that collects rainwater off the roofs,” said Cerocke. “We use that to help supplement our irrigation water so that we don’t have to pull out of the aquifer during times when it is rainy.”

Farm to table

There are four greenhouses on McDonald Farm that help facilitate crop growth year-round.

“(The greenhouses) allow us to provide food a bit later in the fall, and a bit earlier in the springtime,” said Cerocke. “The clear plastic on the greenhouses allow the sun in and keeps the warmth. Throughout the winter, we generally have a variety of greens that are somewhat cold-tolerant. So that really helps us to extend our season here in the northern climate.”

The Conservation Foundation sells these crops to visitors every week.

“Our program runs 20 weeks long through the summer and folks sign up ahead of time at the beginning of the season,” said Cerocke. “Folks can come in and they’re not getting a premade box of vegetables. They’re able to come and pick somewhat like a grocery store.”

McDonald Farm partnered with Loaves and Fishes Community Services. Last year, they donated over 6,000 pounds of food to the local pantries.

“That’s one of my favorite parts of working here,” said Cerocke. “Loaves and Fishes has been a great partner for several years. They pick up from us every Wednesday and get that food out to people first thing on Thursday.”

Events at McDonald Farm

The Conservation Foundation offers events such as Music on the Farm, which begins at 4 p.m. this Sunday at McDonald Farm.

That will feature the Bree Gordon Band and a food truck called Wild Fries from St. Charles,” said Cerocke. “The event is free for the family. Feel free to bring a cooler, some lawn chairs, blankets and camp out for the day.”

For the complete list of upcoming events, visit The Conservation Foundation website.

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