2024 Environmental Summit Recording & Resources

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Thank you to all of the participants who logged in to the 202 Environmental Summit held on Thursday, January 18th. Participants were energized by the wealth of information shared on the many ways residents and communities can increase their climate impact by growing and sourcing healthy food locally and equitably, guided by and in tune with our local ecology.


View a recording of the Environmental Summit here or below.



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More info about Green Earth Harvest, our organic CSA Farm Share program:

Learn more about Conservation@Home and Conservation@Work Programs (site visits, rain water management & native garden help):

For rain barrel and composter sales:

For more pointers on how to create a native garden and rain gardens:

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Resources Slides


Welcome Remarks

Brook McDonald, President/CEO, The Conservation Foundation
Shelia Rutledge, Environmental Committee Chair, DuPage County Board
Barb Szczepaniak, Vice President for Programs, DuPage Foundation


Agro-what? Introduction to Agroecology with Q&A with a Farmer

Connie Kollmeyer, Agroecology Educator, The Conservation Foundation
Q&A with Russell Cerocke, Farm Manager, Green Earth Harvest

Connie discusses how agroecology is more than ecological agricultural practices or studying and caring for the ecology of a garden or farm. Agroecology focuses on the ecology of the whole food system, the environment, and the people in it and in doing so, improves the health of the community across spectrums. She is joined by Green Earth Harvest Farm Manager, Russell Cerocke, who discusses how agroecology is integrated into practices at the farm.


Empowering Farmers and Eaters to Create Food Systems Change

Liz Moran Stelk, Executive Director, Illinois Stewardship Alliance

The Illinois Stewardship Alliance is farmer-driven and eater-powered, working closely with farms to identify and untangle the deep-rooted issues in our food system and with eaters to use their purchasing and collective power to create change. Liz shares the Alliance’s work and success stories such as the Right to Garden Act which provides essential protections for small-scale growers to grow food for themselves and their families.


Rethinking the Power of Gardeners: How Gardeners, Information, and Community Can Revolutionize Hunger & Food Waste

Gary Oppenheimer, Founder and Executive Director, AmpleHarvest.org

Gary discusses looking at food, health and climate problems through a different lens in an effort to find the root cause solution. He explores why a country with vast surpluses of food still has hunger and malnutrition and how home gardeners can play an integral role in creating a vibrant local food system. Lastly, he covers how tech-based, information solutions can strengthen food distribution within communities and help us think differently about food.


Agroecology in the Suburbs: A community-based approach to Sustainability

Lindsay Zimmerman, President, Sustain DuPage, Sustain DuPage Facebook

Most people look to either the city or further afield to find examples of agroecology in action, but it has a place in the suburbs too. For the past decade, Sustain DuPage has been centering community in its efforts to create sustainable change in DuPage County. We explore the different ways people, the environment, and agriculture have come together through our various mission projects to make a difference on the local level.


Conservation@Home: How Agroecology Benefits Your Home Gardens

Kyla Muhammad, Will County Program Director, The Conservation Foundation
Kat Gerdts, Administrative Coordinator, Kane-DuPage Soil and Water District

Learn about The Conservation Foundation’s Conservation@Home program and the synergies of supporting native plants, wildlife, and food resilience in your home landscape whether growing in the ground, raised beds, or containers, and opportunities for funding assistance. We discuss how applying an agroecological approach to your food and pollinator gardens reduces climate impacts and promotes abundance, soil health, and water conservation.


Everything Local: Farming, Flowers, & Food

Frankie Garcia, Owner, Chicago St. Sunflower Co. & Member, Elgin Sustainability Commissioner, & The Conservation Foundation’s Next Gen Council

Frankie tells his story of starting a local urban farm and highlight how his local community has been the key to their success.


Partnerships in Food Security

Dan Lobbes, Vice President of Land & Watershed Programs, The Conservation Foundation
Scott LaMorte, Vice President of Business Development, Itasca Bank & Trust Co.

Dan showcases Green Earth Harvest’s work with food pantries around DuPage and Will counties, highlighting the growing need for fresh produce for food pantry clients, why it matters where the vegetables come from, and the impact of 2023 farm-to-pantry pilot program. The Conservation Foundation’s Green Earth Harvest program has grown and distributed organic produce from their Naperville farm to 5 food pantries in DuPage County and one in Will County.


Learn more about our speakers here.


Native Plant Sales

Save the date! The Conservation Foundation’s plant sale will be Saturday, May 11th at McDonald Farm. There will be vegetables, native plants, trees and shrubs! Come in person. Sign up for our newsletter to learn about pre-order options!

Other retail & wholesale native plant nurseries: 


Greater DuPage Wild Ones lists native plant nurseries on their website:


You can also get native plants at We Grow Dreams in West Chicago:



Other Information

The Morton Arboretum seed swap is coming up January 27th, register here: https://mortonarb.org/explore/activities/adult-programs/seed-swap/ 

Check out the Downers Grove Legacy Seed Library. It is on the second floor of the Downers Grove Library and is open to everyone: https://dglibrary.org/seed-library/ 

Sustain DuPage is having a Seed Share at Wheaton Public Library on February 25th: https://wheatonlibrary.org/event/seed-share-sustain-dupage-61095 

The Conservation Foundation’s Conservation@Home and @Work programs within DuPage County are partially sponsored by DuPage County Stormwater Management and we thank them for their support! Learn more about stormwater management at: https://www.dupagecounty.gov/government/departments/stormwater_management/ 

One of our participants has also suggested these resources regarding issues of drift and waterways: IEC and Prairie Rivers Network, together with the Save Our Trees – Coalition for Herbicide Pollution Accountability are working to address the very serious issue of herbicide drift, both particle and vapor, from field and lawn applications. To learn more, to add your voice, to get involved, contact Prairie Rivers Network. Their website can be found at prairierivers.org.

Bread.org is the site Gary Oppenheimer mentioned for resources on how to prep and preserve produce that people may be unfamiliar with. This organization is also dedicated to fighting hunger in communities. 


Thanks to our sponsors:


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