Growing the Community

by Dan Lobbes, Vice President


In our last Connections, Steve Tiwald, the founder of Green Earth Institute, discussed the beginnings of the organic farming initiative 20 years ago. His aim then was to grow organic vegetables on the McDonald Farm in Naperville, and to build a community centered on making healthy food choices. I was among the few dozen of the first shareholders of Steve’s vision.


As I look around at the Green Earth Harvest of 2022, I can’t help but smile and hope that we’re getting closer to his and his wife Karen’s dream. In these last 2 years, we’ve expanded our community by inviting other local farm partners to bring their food to the farm and it’s been extremely rewarding. The 2021 End of Season surveys were glowing in how much people appreciated having organic grains, McDonald Farm-grown herbs and flowers, family-farmed fruits and meats, etc. It was so nice to see Green Earth shareholders supporting these local farm partners, and the farm partners absolutely love our folks – and coming to our farm. We’re looking forward to having them back again this year and continuing to build this community.


Pizza Nights on the Farm is also on the calendar this summer. It’s a relaxing evening where people can stretch out, listen to some good music and enjoy dinner and drinks on the farm. And, because there’s nothing better than hanging out at the farm, enjoying the stillness, nature and sunsets, we’re happy to be reviving another opportunity to relax, converse and “break bread” on the farm this fall – our shareholder potluck dinner. We’ve held them off and on throughout our 20 years, but the last few years have been challenging even to contemplate something like that. Here’s hoping!


As the temperature warms, the sun stays out longer, and the fields start waking up, my thoughts naturally turn to…  next winter! No, it’s true. We have to start now to plan for our next 20 years. Our mission is still to be able to feed healthy, organic food to as much of our community during as much of the year as possible. To that end, we hope to build a new, heated greenhouse. It will allow us to lengthen the growing season to nearly the whole year as well as greatly increase the amount of vegetables we can grow in the winter and spring. We have applied for several farming grants to help, but we will need assistance from our shareholders and friends as well. After we hear from the grant funders and know how big the gap is, I hope you will consider supporting this effort at whatever level is comfortable for you. You’ll hear more on this from us in the next few months.


Twenty years ago, Steve started with 28 shareholders. Last year the Green Earth Harvest program fed more than 600 families with vegetables grown right here on the McDonald Farm. That’s a lot of growth in 20 years! I hope we can continue growing the community over the next 20 years, providing local, organic, nutritious (not to mention, delicious!) food to as many families as we can.


Thank you for being on this journey with us!


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