The McHenry County Conservation District is asking for folks to step forward who might be willing to run an old fashioned farm near Lions Park on Silver Lakes Road in Cary.
The goal is a farm-to-table sustainable farming operation on the eastern portion of the Hollows Conservation Area.
Farm tours are planned in the future to show residents “the critical role of agriculture as part of an integrated approach to land conservation.”
That’s the site of the former Pichen Farmstead on Silver Lakes Road near Cary.
There are farm buildings previously operated as a dairy with 66 acres currently in crops, 8 acres of grass field border with another 28 acres possibly available.
MCCD seeks the following:
The qualified candidate will demonstrate considerable experience in sustainable farming, have a plan to utilize the Property to produce food, fiber, and/or forage, and demonstrate a financial ability to license and improve the Property for the intended farming practice incorporating best conservation practices.
Additionally, the qualified candidate will have a willingness to collaborate with the District and other local organizations to provide additional community benefits, including engagement in public education events/ activities.
Additionally, the Conservation District wants to encourage the breeding of grassland birds.
Included in the document is a short history of the property:
In 1882, John Pichen moved on to the Property that he formerly rented from Abe Goodwin.
When Abe Goodwin died, his heirs sold the farm to John Pichen.
The farm originally was 120 acres and 20 acres were added later.
Over the years three generations of Pichens; John and Mary, William and Mary Frances, and then Harry and Helen, farmed the property raising hogs, chickens, beef and dairy cattle, grain, and hay.
The Pichens built many of the buildings on the farmstead; however, a couple were there when they first arrived including the farmhouse, built in 1871.
The Pichens sold the dairy herd in 1956 but continued to farm the property until they leased it to a grain farmer. The Property has been in grain production in recent decades.
The District has leased the property to a grain farmer through the 2017 crop season.
Long-time MCCD employee Ed Collins adds the following information about the area:
The Hollows and the Pichen Addition to the Hollows are continuous with properties owned by the Cary Park District so from a biological sense (plants and animals) it concentrates a larger block of habitat in an area of the county that can use it. The biota does not recognize property ownership lines and moves freely across the properties owned by the two entities.
The whole Hollows/Cary Park District complex is a little less than two miles from the cluster of protected gravel hill prairies near the Fox River that are one of the unique natural heritage elements of the Cary area. Those include the Cary Junior High Prairie, East Main Street Prairie and Hillside Prairies. I believe all of those are dedicated Illinois Nature Preserves and at least some of them are owned by the Park District.