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updated: 5/1/2014 4:20 PM

COD and forest preserve may partner to save 'farm'

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A small "community farm" that existed for years on the College of DuPage campus in Glen Ellyn could find a new home at a nearby forest preserve.

Officials say there's not enough space for the College of DuPage Community Education Farm because of construction projects planned at the school's 273-acre campus.

While the faculty-run farm produced tomatoes, cucumbers and other organic crops for low-income families in DuPage, it wasn't tied to an academic program at the college. Students who worked there did so on a volunteer basis as part of a service learning experience.

"That's the reason we decided to discontinue the farm," said Joseph Collins, COD's executive vice president. "There is no academic program that the farm belongs to. It's not a necessary outdoor lab for any academic program."

Still, DuPage County Forest Preserve Commissioner Joe Cantore said he believes the farm should continue because it will give residents the chance to learn about sustainable urban agriculture.

"It will serve as an educational example of what can be done and what people can do," Cantore said.

So the district and COD have a tentative agreement to move the farm to a roughly 1-acre plot of existing farmland at Danada Forest Preserve in Wheaton. The proposed site is along the west side of Naperville Road, south of Butterfield Road.

Forest preserve officials said the location is about two miles from COD's campus and is part of the district's Danada Model Farm, which is dedicated to 1950s agricultural practices.

To make the relocation possible, the boards for COD and the forest preserve would need to approve an intergovernmental agreement. Those votes would happen sometime in the summer, officials said.

"There's a lot of steps yet to happen," Collins said.

In the meantime, he said, the faculty members involved with the community farm "are very interested in this new possibility."

Founded in 2003, the farm originally was located south of the Student Resource Center. It was moved twice in recent years before being removed last fall.

"Eventually, it came to the point where it was very difficult for us to figure out where to put it on campus," Collins said.

Officials said the possible agreement could lead to other opportunities for COD and the forest preserve district to share resources.

"This might just be the first step of them letting us use their land for farming," Collins said. "There might be other things we could do in tandem with the forest preserve."

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