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Reserve Now For Garfield Farm Awards On April 17

    Reservations are due April 9th for the Saturday April 17 Garfield Farm Museum annual awards ceremony at the historic Dunham Woods Riding Club in Wayne, IL. The reception begins a 6 pm followed by dinner and an 8 pm awards ceremony. Reservations for the evening should be made as soon as possible.

     The 17th will be a special night as the evening is dedicated in honor of the Jay and Lyla Johnsen Family of Danerie Farms. For over 33 years they have farmed the cropped fields of Garfield Farm Museum and have a special relationship to the farm, the museum, and the community. The advance of suburban sprawl and the consolidation of farms have resulted in people who actually farm the land becoming a rarity. In the case of the Johnsen family, their relationship predates Garfield Farm Museum as the late Jay Johnsen’s father Jens first farmed land of Elva Garfield’s family. They became permanent neighbors when Jay purchased Elva’s south farm on Rt. 38 in 1961. Through the years, Jay and his farming sons, Steve as a youth and Rod, K.C, and Todd as adults, planted the fields and rotated crops with grains, hay, corn and beans using a minimum of chemicals and plenty of nature’s compost from their dairy herd. They have supply the museum’s animals with hay and whenever an extra hand or farm machinery is needed for special projects the Johnsens always find time despite milking schedules or rushes to get the hay baled. Always good humored and with time to visit, the family has taken a serious interest in the museum’s activities since its beginning. Though they now own other farms farther away, they have retained the farmstead and several acres they bought from Elva and still operate museum land and other nearby properties. They may well be the last traditional generational farm family left in the immediate neighborhood.

    This year’s awards recognize one organization and an individual and family for being good stewards of the historic, agricultural or natural environments.

    Daniel Bussey of Edgerton, WI has found time apart from his business to be one of the Midwest’s most knowledgeable experts on antique apple tree varieties. He has had over 300 varieties in a backyard orchard which includes several that were thought to have become extinct until he rediscovered them. Functioning as a volunteer adviser on apples with the Seed Savers Exchange of Decorah, IA, he has helped SSE expand its competence and reach to preserve our horticultural genetic diversity. He is in the process of publishing a book based on a 1905 USDA list made of over 6000 apple varieties of that era. Less than 2000 of those survive today.  The publication will include historic illustrations of these apples. Through the years with his 100 year old plus commercial apple cider press, he has made some unique ciders with different types of apples possessing different degrees of tartness, sweetness, and flavors. For over 23 years he has volunteered his knowledge to teach antique apple tree grafting seminars at the museum. His remarkable dedication as an enthusiast who truly has become an expert makes him an excellent candidate to receive the Garfield Farm Museum Agricultural Conservation Award.

    Just as there was no Garfield Tavern until Bryant Durant laid the bricks to it in 1846, there most likely would not have been a Garfield Farm Museum if Restorations of Kane County (RKC) now named Preservation Partners of the Fox Valley, had not been in existence. For over 35 years Preservation Partners has been both an advocate as well as a doer of historic preservation in the Fox Valley. When it first formed as RKC , it was to save and preserve the Bryant Durant House located in LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve in St. Charles, IL. An antique enthusiasts club, the Thornapple Chapter, a local Questers International branch, had begun efforts to preserve the brick mason’s 1843 home when RKC was formed. When Elva Garfield read of the work, she contacted one of RKC’s founders, Eve Johnson, for help to preserve her family home and farm. Through the years Preservation Partners has restored and preserved Durant House, the William Beith house, and with Friends of Fabyan, the Fabyan Villa and Japanese gardens. Most recently PPFV has undertaken the preservation of the 1893 Viking ship sailed to America from Scandinavia for Chicago’s 1893 Columbian Exposition. For Preservation Partners continued and successful sustained efforts, the museum is please to award PPFV with a Historic Preservation Award.

     What is the culmination of a decade of work from initial planning to referendum passing, and then negotiating and buying, Campton Township’s Open Space Program has acquired a very special property. As all sellers of land to the program had to be willing to sell to the township, it is very exciting to see the 200 acre Gray Willow Farm become part of the preserved open space in Campton. Not everyone might want or be willing to sell their property for such use so it is gratifying to be able to recognize the Lillian Fessenden Family as a Co-operator for Campton’s Conservation. Over 1300 acres of land has been preserved for open space in Campton.

    Garfield Farm Museum established these awards in 1989 to recognize groups and individuals who were making contributions to historic, environmental or agricultural preservation /education, three themes that the museum emphasizes. Advanced reservations and payment are required for the dinner which is $50 per person. Reservations can be made by calling 630 584-8485 or by emailing  Garfield Farm Museum is the most historically intact former 1840s Illinois prairie farmstead and teamster inn that is being restored as an 1840s working farm. Tours are given year round by appointment.

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