Growing Food Security Program


feedingamerica-foodbank-illinois-northernillinoisfoodbank-2012Food security is achieved when "all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life," according to the World Health Organization. With 1 in 8 families facing hunger in Northern Illinois, our suburban communities are not food secure. The current food system's dependency on cheap fossil fuels and transportation infrastructure cannot be sustained as resources become constrained, not to mention the impacts their practices have on soil, air, water, and human health. If food delivery trucks stop coming into your community, how long do you think you will be able to feed your family with the food you have access to in your home and from your land? Most communities are said to have only about three days worth of food in their local grocery stores.

It is imperative that we begin growing a new food system that places food security as the primary goal. With more than half of the U.S. population living in the suburbs and an abundance of land, the suburbs can become food producing communities able to feed themselves and support neighboring urban and rural communities.


Building a Permaculture

McDonald Farm Edible Forest Garden, Fall 2013

The McDonald Farm Edible Forest Garden project is beginning to take shape thanks to all of the Permablitz volunteers and sponsors!
Permablitz Volunteers

Jane, Charlotte, Kyle, Jean, Paul, Dennis, Sarah, Justin, Jan, Joe, Casey, Phil, Karen, Dan, Dave, Beth, Emilee, Chris, Margaret, Carrie, Donna, Aidan, Colin, Mary, Bill, Mike, Jeff, Chuck and Dan.


T & M Tree Service
Evergreens of Elwood
City of Naperville



Support First Forest Garden in Naperville

Do you think our food system needs to change?  Then get involved by sponsoring or donating to the first edible forest garden in Naperville.  Even $1 will help make this project a reality and start growing food security in our community.

It is easy, just pick a button and click.

Sponsor button


  • $10,000  Naming Sponsor
  • $5,000    Harvest Sponsor
  • $2,500    Chestnut Sponsor
  • $1,000    Persimmon Sponsor
  • $500       Paw Paw Sponsor



Donate button

  • $10 will buy a large plant or a few ground covers
  • $20 will buy a shrub
  • $40 will buy a small tree
  • $70 will buy a large tree
  • $100 will buy 5 shrubs
  • $200 will buy 3 dwarf fruit trees or 10 shrubs


We also welcome material donations of plants, trees, mulch, arbors, wooden bridges (or wood to make bridges), and signage.  Contact Michelle Hickey  at michelle@theresiliencyinstitute.net or (630) 281-0184 to make arrangements.

Volunteer Button


We hosted 3 PERMABLITZ events in September and November of 2013 to do all of the earthworks, tree planting, and sheet mulching.  Permablitz events will be scheduled for Spring and Fall of 2014, so subscribe to our blog and emails to stay informed.  Permablitz events offer great opportunities to learn by doing plus you support a great project at the same time.  Meet like minded people, eat and work together, and be part of installing the FIRST forest garden in Naperville.



We are preparing to grow food security with the installation of the FIRST edible forest garden in Naperville on McDonald Farm!  McDonald farm is a 60-acre farm surrounded by suburban development, preserved for conservation, education, and agriculture.  Over 8,000 people visit the farm annually to participate in activities and learn about renewable energy, water conservation techniques, native landscaping, green roofing, organic farming, and soon, an edible forest garden. The Conservation Foundation, a 41-year-old non-profit land and watershed protection organization, owns the farm and is headquartered there.McDonald Farm Edible Forest Garden_logo

The McDonald Farm edible forest garden (135’x40’) includes areas for recreation, children’s exploration, and inspiration. The design incorporates existing trees, re-purposes materials currently there, and utilizes the abundance of waste water produced at the packing shed to water the site through a connected swale/berm system.  Being added to the area are 12 trees, 73 shrubs, 14 vines, countless herbaceous and groundcover plants, bridges, rock gardens, rain gardens, mandala garden, kiwi igloos, and hop arbors.  It is a demonstration for how we can transform suburban lawns, grow food security, and have beautiful, self-maintaining landscapes.

Many of us have such abundance and live in areas where neighbors appear to be doing fine, but looks can be deceiving.  According to the Northern Illinois Food Bank, 1 in 8 of your neighbors face hunger.  Loaves and Fishes, a Naperville based food pantry, reports that 10.3% of DuPage County residents (nearly 100,000 people) are food insecure and has seen a 780% increase in groceries distributed from 2008 to 2013.

The Resiliency Institute wants to do more than grow food to donate to food banks and pantries.  We want to grow food security using permaculture.  Replacing lawns with edible forest gardens and installing food forests in public parks and along public pathways, makes fresh fruits, nuts, and vegetables abundant and available for everyone.

Together we can GROW food security.

Forest Garden on McDonald Farm

TCF McDonald Farm signWe are designing and installing the FIRST FOREST GARDEN  in Naperville, IL on The Conservation Foundation McDonald Farm!

A forest garden is a gardening technique or land management system that mimics a woodland ecosystem but substitutes in plants which can include edible, medicinal, fiber, dye, and fuel  producing trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals.  Companions or beneficial plants are included as insectaries, pest confusers, dynamic accumulators, nitrogen fixers, and mulch plants. Together they create relationships to form a perennial forest garden ecosystem able to produce high yields of food for human consumption, ultimately with minimal maintenance.

The McDonald Farm forest garden will be a demonstration design for people to interact with and learn from and serve as an inspiration for transforming suburban lawns.   We will also be using this project as a hands-on learning opportunity for our upcoming Permaculture Design Course, Food Forest Workshop, and Homestead Design Workshops.

We welcome volunteers who are interested in supporting this project and are available to donate skills and labor between August and October.

Enjoy the many photos Jodi and Karen took as they were collecting information for the site assessment.

Treeline that will become the forest garden
Treeline that will become the forest garden

Jodi identifying xxx
Jodi identifying goatsbeard

Nodding Thistle

Barn Swallow

Treeline from another angle
Treeline from another angle

Rain barrel and rain garden at Clow House
Rain barrel and rain garden at Clow House

Mound of prairie dirt needing to be incorporated into treeline.
Mound of prairie dirt needing to be incorporated into treeline.

Rocks to move and find uses for
Rocks to move and find uses for

Area to be cleared once we get rid of the poison ivy.
Area to be cleared once we get rid of the poison ivy.

Iris growing in the treeline
Iris growing in the treeline

Nodding Thistle. Beautiful, but still a THISTLE
Look what Karen found!
Karen found one of the farm residents:  Bufo Americanus