Deerpath Farm in Mettawa recently became the first homeowners association to be certified by Conserve Lake County in the region's Conservation@Home program for eco-friendly landscaping and land stewardship.
The award-winning program assists and showcases residential, institutional and public properties that support clean water, rich soil, and resilient ecosystems.
In Lake County, more than 700 properties are enrolled in the program, which features the opportunity for homeowners and property managers to receive individualized recommendations for actionable projects from sustainable landscape professionals.
The 200-acre Deerpath Farm development features 140 acres of woods and prairie owned by the Deerpath Farm Homeowners Association, and is permanently protected through conservation easements held by the Lake Forest Open Lands Association, which has been involved with the site since 1987 and has managed it since 2005.
The developer has been restoring the land since 2000 under direction of landscape architect Stephen Christy.
This work has included restoring the site's natural hydrology, reseeding native plants and removing approximately 100 acres of buckthorn.
Lake Forest Open Lands Association continues to monitor native species, control invasive species and conduct prescribed burns using funds provided by homeowner assessments. These actions contributed to the 100 points needed for certification.
"Deerpath Farm presents an exemplary model for homeowner associations throughout the region," said Conserve Lake County Executive Director Dave Neu. "This is a neighborhood where people and nature exist in balance and harmony. We are pleased and honored to include them in our program."
Conserve Lake County will host its annual fundraiser, Prairie Harvest, at Deerpath Farm Sunday, Sept. 13. It's a "moving party" that showcases a different private conservation property each year. Past hosts include Bill Kurtis, Tom and Margot Pritzker and Tempel Farms.
"We are honored to be part of the Conservation@Home Program," said Frederick Phillips, president of the Deerpath Farm Homeowner Association.
"This certification recognizes Deerpath Farm's uniquely beautiful environment, which results from the fine work and collaborative stewardship of many organizations and individuals."
John Sentell, president of the Lake Forest Open Lands Association, said the certification recognizes the great vision and work that's resulted from the partnership between Lake Forest Open Lands Association and Deerpath Farm.
Through Conservation@Home, property owners can walk their site with a professional and receive personalized information about ecological treasures or invasive species that might exist on the property, ways to approach water issues and healthy lawn care, and suggestions for retaining aesthetics while incorporating a selection of native trees, shrubs or other plants into the existing landscape.
Conserve Lake County is the only membership-based, nonprofit conservation group that works countywide in Lake County. Its supporters are committed to keeping Lake County's land and water healthy for the well-being of people and wildlife. The organization has preserved more than 400 acres of open space, including Dokum Mskoda Sedge Meadow Nature Preserve in Waukegan and Casey Farm, a certified organic farm in Libertyville. Learn more at www.ConserveLakeCounty.org or call (847) 548-5989.