Announcing a Perfect Pairing – The Merger of The Conservation Foundation and Green Earth Institute

You know those two people who are best friends for ages, finally decide they belong together, and live happily ever after?  It feels like that’s what is happening to us!  We are elated to announce that effective January 1st, 2018, we have merged with the Green Earth Institute, the non-profit organic farming organization who has worked the land at our McDonald Farm headquarters for the last 15 years.

Besides being wonderful roommates at The McDonald Farm, the Green Earth Institute’s mission to promote nutritional health and environmental sustainability is a perfect complement to our mission, and the people they have chosen to carry out their work are top-notch.  As of January 1st, the Green Earth Institute has become a major new program of The Conservation Foundation;  all farm operations and the current community-supported agriculture program, as well as youth education programs, are staying intact at McDonald Farm.

Our Board President Christopher Burke said the merger of these two organizations, both with strong brands and both committed to the health and vitality of the region, is logical and timely. “This merger is a unique opportunity for both these organizations dedicated to conservation and education to combine resources and staff to promote community-based conservation and health to our residents.”

Carole Koch,  Chairperson for the Green Earth Institute, said of the union, “We’re going to be in good hands with The Conservation Foundation and feel confident in their longstanding commitment to our community.”  We are honored to welcome Carole to The Conservation Foundation’s Board of Trustees beginning January 1st.

Since 2002, The Conservation Foundation has leased 49 tillable acres to the Green Earth Institute at our 60-acre McDonald Farm headquarters in Naperville. When Lenore Clow McDonald donated the farm to The Conservation Foundation to The Conservation Foundation, one of her stipulations and fondest dreams was that agriculture, conservation and education would be done on her land in perpetuity, and our partnership with the Green Earth Institute has been a perfectly harmonious way of accomplishing that.  Having our two organizations becoming one only solidifies that goal and our mutual dedication to keeping Lenore’s dreams alive.

Both of our organizations have used McDonald Farm for educational opportunities for area schools and neighbors to learn about conservation, stewardship, and sustainability, which includes rainwater harvesting, native landscaping, wind and solar energy, and, of course, organic farming.

Founded in 2002 by Steve Tiwald as a way to create a model for environmental sustainability, the Green Earth Institute grows more than 45 different vegetable and herb crops, which are sold through the community-supported agriculture program, also known as a CSA. This program invites the community to purchase a “share” of the expected harvest by making a payment in advance, then getting freshly harvested vegetables during the growing season. We encourage you to learn more about the CSA here and purchase a share of these healthful and nutritious, lovingly grown foods for your family.  Staff of The Conservation Foundation who work at McDonald Farm can personally attest to meticulous care Green Earth Institute staff give to every plant, as we see them working in the fields in all kinds of weather as we come to and from work.

Steve Tiwald is retiring after 15 years at the helm of the Green Earth Institute and wanted to ensure the success of his vision and that the needs of his nearly 600 CSA shareholders will continue to be met. Steve started with a handful of customers and working a couple of acres in 2002 and saw the demand for his vision of healthy land and healthy people grow over the past 15 years.

“This merger makes a lot of sense because of the close alignment of our two organizations’ principles and our experience collaborating for the past 15 years,” Tiwald said. “I am very excited about the synergies that will result in expanded reach and greater strength to achieve our mission.”

As we at The Conservation Foundation conclude our 45th anniversary year and enter our 20th year of calling McDonald Farm our home, we could not be more excited for this marriage of two passionate organizations and new chapter in our identity and mission.   We would like to thank Steve Tiwald, Carole Koch and all involved with the Green Earth Institute for honoring us by entrusting their worthy mission to us.  Every time I turn in to our entrance at McDonald Farm, I feel so grateful to be a part of all of the good that is going on up our quarter-mile-long lane.  That good is only going to grow with this merger.

Written by Brook McDonald, President/CEO of The Conservation Foundation


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