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September 8 Prairie Walk for Families

CAMPTON HILLS, IL     On Saturday September 8, 2012, at 9 am museum biologist Jerome Johnson will lead a prairie walk at Garfield Farm Museum with a special opportunity for families to discover the native environment.     

    As it has been a drought year that has devastated crops and cultivars, the native plants of Illinois are flowering and producing seed for future generations. Though not as robust or as tall as they would normally be, the deep rooted plants of the prairie are succeeding whereas introduced lawn grasses and garden flowers dried up long ago unless they were heavily watered.

    A walk through the prairie, oak savanna and Mill Creek sedge meadow will best demonstrate the most successful of this strategy. It is a prime example that only the best adapted systems can survive extremes. Some of the deepest rooted plants still flowering such as prairie dock and compass plant show little impact. They are near their normally heights and the bright yellow blooms seem all the brighter against the succession of brilliant blue cloudless skies.

     The long term impact on the oak savannas will not be seen for several years. Other stresses such as disease and age may catch up to these trees that survived the 1930s dust bowl era and the drought of 1988. One can imagine that such stress for such long lived species is a way to open up more dense woodlands to necessary sunlight for young oaks to germinate. Because oak savanna restoration is still a young field and the life span of these trees is so long, it will be a number of generations before the impact of weather extremes much less restoration efforts can be fully understood.

     In the meantime, science can be forgotten for the moment on the walk as a chance to pause and take in the natural world is becoming a rare opportunity with all of modern life's distractions and disconnections from nature. “It is especially important to get adults with children out into nature because children learn best when a father or grandmother, aunt or uncle share discovery and wonder for the natural world. My grandmother's frequent mention of ‘Mother Nature’ and my father's casual walks in the woods had a profound effect on my discovery of nature and subsequent study of biology,” stated Johnson, a founder of Garfield Farm Museum.

    Participants should wear long pants and shoes for hiking through the tall grasses and sedge meadow. There is a $6 donation for adults and children under 13 years are $3. Reservations are suggested by calling 630 584-8485 or e-mail

    Garfield Farm Museum is 5 miles west of Geneva, IL off ILL Rt. 38 on Garfield Road. Garfield Farm Museum is Illinois‚ only historically intact former 1840s prairie farmstead and teamster inn being restored as a working farm museum by donors and volunteers from over 300 households and 37 states.
    Tours of the 1846 brick inn will be ongoing. These tours often spark conversations between grandparent and child as grandparents recall their childhood visits to relatives‚ farms. Tours of the museum‚s prairie reconnect visitors to nature and its resilience, as the last prairie flowers bloom and go to seed.
    Students will have a chance to help screen soil for artifacts as part of the 5 Year Archaeological Investigation sponsored by Campton Historic Agricultural Lands.  Test pits will be dug in an effort to find the original well and other features that were on the farm when the Garfield family moved here from Vermont in 1841.
    Reservations are required for Student Harvest Days on October 5th can be made by contacting the museum at (630) 584-8485 or email Students under 13 years are $4 each and students 13 and over and chaperones are $5 each. On Sunday, October 7th, the museum will hold annual Harvest Days event for the general public from 11:30am-4pm, $6 for adults and $3 for children under 12 with family. Organized youth groups on Sunday are $4 under 13 years of age.
    The 370-acre Garfield Farm Museum is the only historically intact former 1840s farmstead and teamster inn being restored by donors and volunteers from 3000 households in 37 states as an 1840s working farm museum. Garfield Farm Museum is located 5 miles west of Geneva, IL off ILL Rt.38 on Garfield Road.

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