Get to Know McDonald Farm’s “Eco-Campus”

By Brook McDonald, President/CEO of The Conservation Foundation


The McDonald Farm is more than fields and fields full of delicious organic veggies. It is also the home of The Conservation Foundation (TCF) and its eight-county regional land and watershed conservation programs.

Part of Lenore McDonald’s donation of this farm to TCF required that we provide education about conservation. One of the goals of the farm is to show people examples of sustainability that they can incorporate at their home or place of business. When you visit the farm, we hope you will take at least one good idea home with you and make a commitment to try something new to help our planet. Maybe that’s installing a rain barrel, using less lawn chemicals, or simply planting a butterfly garden to help the endangered monarch butterfly.

Over the years, we have installed solar panels, a small wind turbine, green roofs, native gardens, permeable pavement, and rainwater harvesting systems of various sizes, to name a few.  Do you know we have a 25,000-gallon rainwater harvesting system that helps water your veggies?

The newest addition to our “eco campus” is our HYDROPANELS display from a company called SOURCE. These hydropanels use the sun and the air to produce clean drinking water.  That’s right, just like a dehumidifier, hydropanels take water vapor (humidity) out of the air and converts it to liquid water. A solar panel in the hydropanel unit powers a pump that filters the water and adds minerals to create a “flavor profile,” then it’s perfectly clean to drink. The two hydropanels are located between the two barns.  Look to your left before you enter the big barn to pick up your farmshare. Go over and fill up your water bottle- the spout is located behind the first unit.  It tastes perfect!

Not everyone is as lucky as we are here in the Great Lakes region to have good access to fresh water. New water technologies, like these hydropanels, can help communities throughout the world with poor water access obtain clean drinking water right from the air they breathe.

We want to recognize and thank the Timken Foundation and the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley for funding these hydropanels (we also installed two of them at our Dickson-Murst Farm in Montgomery). Steve Stawarz, a member of our DuPage County Advisory Council, also deserves recognition as he was the one who originally proposed this idea for the farm.

We are very excited to announce that the Timken Foundation also provided partial funding for the new heated greenhouse we have our sights set on to build at the farm. This will allow us to offer fresh, organic veggies throughout the winter and early spring, even expanding the number of Spring Greens shares we will have available to feed our community. You will hear more about this as we look to raise the remaining $18,000 to make this a reality. Your help will move the farm forward toward providing healthy, delicious vegetables to more of our community, more months of the year!

We hope when you’re at the farm that you are able to fully “experience” the farm.  I know we are all busy, but I encourage you take a few moments to see and learn about our eco-friendly farm of the future here in Naperville.

Thank you for supporting TCF and our Green Earth Harvest program!

Brook McDonald, President and CEO


Want to learn more about SOURCE hydropanels? Click HERE

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