The Farm

Our farm is located in south Naperville, Illinois. We are leasing from The Conservation Foundation, a regional not-for-profit land and watershed protection organization. The 60-acre McDonald Farm was donated to the Foundation in 1992 by Lenore McDonald, and the Foundation now uses the farmhouse for its headquarters.

History

European settlement of the land in the vicinity of the McDonald Farm began in the 1830s, but Native Americans lived in this area for thousands of years before the Europeans came. Native artifacts have been found along the banks of the West Branch of the DuPage River, which runs just southeast of the farm. The post-1830s record of the farm may be found at McDonald Farm history.

Organic & Sustainable Practices

We are leasing the 49 tillable acres at the McDonald Farm; the other 11 acres are occupied by wetlands, buildings, driveway, and a one-acre prairie plant nursery. One of our sustainable agriculture management practices is crop rotation, in which we alternate the crops we grow on a section to improve soil fertility and help control insects and diseases. Typically we plant vegetables on a section for two years, then grow cover crops such as alfalfa and red clover the next two years.

Furthermore, during the second year of the two year vegetable period, we always vary the layout to assure that crops of the same family (e.g., brassicas, alliums, or cucurbits) are not planted in the same spot as the prior year because to do so would lead to a build-up of insects and diseases that prey on that crop family.

In keeping with our organic farming practices, we do not use any man-made fertilizers. Annually in the fall we spread aged, composted horse manure on our fields. We obtain the manure from a nearby riding stable and mix it with tree leaves from our town's annual fall leaf collection program. Over many months, microbes transform this residue into a form beneficial to growing crops. Knowing that healthy soil leads to healthy plants, we are very attentive to maintaining soil fertility.

USDA Certified Organic

We are proud to say that our crops are USDA certified organic. Our farming practices meet the strict standards of the USDA's National Organic Program (NOP). Annually our farm undergoes a rigorous certification renewal process which involves detailed documentation of our field plans, sources for seeds and anything else applied to the fields, and produce handling processes. The Midwest Organic Services Association, a USDA accredited third-party certification agency, reviews these materials annually and sends an inspector to interview us and examine our farm operation.

Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA)

We sell our vegetables through our community-supported agriculture program, or CSA. This is a subscription arrangement whereby interested people buy a share of the harvest and come to the farm weekly, or biweekly, during the harvest season to pick up freshly harvested vegetables. More information at CSA.