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February 24, 2007

     The reality of global warming is all the more reason to attend on Saturday, February 24, from 8:30 am - 3:30 pm, the 21st annual Prairie, Woods, and Wetlands Management Seminar at Garfield Farm Museum, 5 miles west of Geneva, IL off Illinois Rt. 38 on Garfield Road.
     According to Associate Professor Mike Konen, soil scientist in Northern Illinois University’s Department of Geography, soil is the third largest storage reservoir of carbon. The soils of the American Midwest are only second to the Artic Tundra for storing carbon. The nature of the native plants adapted to survive the extremes of climate here, is to grow deep in the ground. As the plant grows it takes up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to build cells and tissue. When deep rooted prairie plants die, all that organic carbon is left deep in the soil.
     “Twenty five years ago when we first considered nature at Garfield Farm, we knew the environment was important for human survival but not to what degree. With the onslaught of global warming and the need to trap or limit carbon dioxide production, every effort is critical for our children’s future. We are proud of having educated hundreds of property owners and interested individuals in the methods of growing these deep rooted plants without realizing how important such efforts have come to be,” stated Jerome Johnson, museum biologist.
     Although there are many more native plant experts today, Roy Diblik and Conner Shaw long ago took the approach to reach people, you must create a market and provide a product.  Using the pragmatic business model that often does not translate ivory tower ideals of environmentalism very well, Diblik and Shaw independently, over 25 years ago, established commercial native plant and tree production.
     Diblik and the late Craig Sensor founded Natural Gardens in St.Charles, IL with Diblik developing methods of growing native plants from seed. Fifteen years ago, Diblik established Northwind Perennial Farm in Springfield, Wisconsin, providing native plant material, designs and installations for private and commercial customers. His credits include Millennium Park in Chicago to estates in Lake Forest, IL and Lake Geneva, WI.
     Conner Shaw of Possibilities Place Nursery in Monee, Illinois, started by collecting native tree seeds and growing what most commercial nurseries ignored. His knowledge both in seed collecting, germinating, and growing a marketable tree or shrub is extensive. His son Kelsey also participates in the firm and has added native grasses and flowers to their sales.
     Conversations with Roy or Conner reveal deep commitments to nature shaped by their first hand experiences. Their business perspective reveals a sharp understanding of economics that include not just the traditional dollars and cents but also the costs and benefits of working with living systems. Most economic models leave out this component just as now is the economic impact of global warming even being considered.
     The seminar is a chance for property owners, natural area volunteers and backyard gardeners to learn the key basics to working with native plants and their environment. Shaw and Diblik were pioneers ahead of their time and participants will gain much from their accumulated knowledge.
     Jerome Johnson of Garfield Farm Museum will share experiences of starting from scratch a small prairie garden to now managing over 55 acres of natural areas on a producing farm and cultural institution.
     There is a $45 fee for the seminar and lunch to be held at Garfield Farm Museum, five miles west of Geneva, IL off ILL Rt. 38 on Garfield Road. Reservations can be made by calling (630) 584-8485 or email Garfield Farm Museum is a 370 acre historically intact former 1840s prairie farmstead and teamster inn being restored by donors and volunteers from 37 states as an 1840s working farm museum.

For more information about Garfield Farm send an e-mail message to: or call 630/584-8485.