Sustainability: the avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.
As a child my family taught me the value of honoring the earth and its resources. When stopping at a rest area on family trips my Mom and Dad would tell us we had to pick up twenty pop tabs (for you youngins, the tabs on the top of canned drinks did not used to be attached and people tended to just drop them on the ground anywhere) before climbing back in our car to continue our journey. This was the beginning of a very deeply seated value.
Reusing, working with renewable resources and paying attention to how our actions effect the environment are all important steps that can bring us in the direction of change. The objective is not to be perfect but is to do our part in ways that we can work towards environmental balance.
Wetlands and Prairie Restoration
A lot of time and effort has been put into restoring the prairies, ponds and wetlands at Soulful Prairies. McConnel Environmental has worked hand in hand with us to create a conducive environment for native wildlife and plants. Through burns, brush cutting and herbicide applications, we have begun to see the land recover. In some areas we have reseeded with native flower and grass seed to encourage growth of natives and decrease the growth of invasive plants. It is an amazing process to watch the land actually heal itself.
The Land Conservancy
In 2013, thirty-four acres of Soulful Prairies was put into the McHenry County Land Conservancy. The Land Conservancy works to help land owners preserve and protect their property. The Land Conservancy also helped connect Soulful Prairies with Fish and Wildlife who installed a water structure in our pond. This structure will help regulate the depth of the pond in order to draw native plants and birds to the area. The goals of these organizations are in keeping with our hopes for this eight-acre piece of land. In restoring Soulful Prairies to its native state it is reassuring to know that it will continue to be protected for hundreds of years to come.
Birds Turtles and Wild Life
Soulful Prairies is the home to many birds, turtles and other interesting wildlife. McConnell Environmental continues to track the endangered birds and unique species each year and we can see the pay-off of our efforts. An endangered Blanding turtle was tracked on the property and other unique species continue to surface as we create an environment that is conducive to their needs. Each year as we stay true to the mission of creating a healthy natural environment for the wildlife, the native wildlife continues to thrive.
Over the past years a local farmer has helped us to restore some of the farming fields to make them crop ready. In the fall of 2013 hay fields were planted. We will be producing organic clean hay for our own horses at Soulful Prairies.
Solar and Geothermal
In 2012 solar panels were installed. At that time the panels create most of the power used at Soulful Prairies. As we continue to grow and add structures we have done our best to keep sustainability in the forefront. The panels are now just a small portion of our power source. When we built the house we made the choice to heat and cool with geothermal. Geothermal is a clean sustainable energy where the heat from the earth is harvested and utilized. As we move forward we hope to stay current and open to new ideas in the world of sustainability and support long term ecological balance.
Reuse and Recycle
Soulful Prairies believes we must reuse all the time, recycle when there is no other option, compost what we can, and throw away as little as possible. We lead by example and hope that individuals can walk away with a good experience; knowing while they were on the property they were part of making a difference and perhaps will go home and do things a bit differently in their own homes. When we have gatherings we ask that plastic cups, plates and flatware are not used. We have collected a variety of beautiful china, glasses and silverware that bring a classy environmentally conscience flare to events.
I am a crazy garage-saler, flea marketer, garbage picker and second hand store shopper. The idea of having the opportunity to dig around and find something old or no longer in use and bring it to life again puts a grin on my face from ear to ear. Many of the materials used in the process of building and decorating at Soulful Prairies are salvaged.
All the buildings on the property have a reclaimed aspect. Each barn stall has a repurposed beveled glass window and the wood in the office and the loft of the barn is all salvaged from barns in the area. We carried the salvaged barn wood into the house also. The entire ceiling throughout is a white salvaged barn wood. Barn beams, salvaged interior doors and flooring milled from old beam all create a timeless quality. The cabin was built in the 1800s and is original other than the mechanics.
We are dedicated to using what is already here whenever possible.
In the process of bringing Soulful Prairies back to its natural and native state, we came across bee keeper Wes Nelson. We currently have two hives on our property that Wes manages. The native plants, flowers and gardens are flourishing thanks to all the hard work the bees have put in. We are also able to enjoy honey and other bee products that are created from our own Soulful Prairies bees.
* Wes and Jill Nelson Marengo IL #815-451-2175