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A legacy of nature preserved in Harvard

Published on
01 July 2020

In the 1970s, Alice McCluggage and her family moved from the city to a homestead in Harvard, IL.

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The property, covering almost 19 acres, was perfect for keeping a large organic garden, as well as goats, chickens and sheep.

Alice taught homesteading techniques at McHenry County College. She belonged to the Alden Seed Group, where she procured the seeds to start a prairie on her property. As a part of the seed group, members helped her care for the prairie with periodic burns to keep the weeds and brush under control.

“I knew Alice from my days with the Alden Seed Group,” says TLC’s Linda Balek. “She lived alone in a small house in town, and one day she invited me to come out to her land in the country. We walked the oak woods and around the prairie, which was so beautiful. She told me the story of the home that had once stood there, but was now gone, burned to the ground in a fire that also tragically took the lives of her husband and son. After the fire in 1989, Alice moved into town, but kept the land and visited there often.”

Alice passed away in 2014, and the land was left to her daughters. Her daughter Pam made sure this special property was preserved with a conservation easement before it went to a new owner.

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A view of the oak woods that are now preserved for life in Harvard. 

The property includes nine acres of remnant oak woods, with old-growth trees as well as trees planted as part of the forestry program. The land is an oasis of wildlife habitat and scenic views in an area of conventionally farmed fields with little other habitat to offer. The easement is located within a half-mile of another TLC easement and is just west of Stone Mill Trail, providing connectivity of habitat. Becks Woods and Chemung Trail are also in the area.

Native plants that have made their home on the property include bloodroot, agrimony, gallium, white avens, bee balm, woodland rye, bluebells, wild geranium, trout lily, wild cucumber, pagoda dogwood, box elder, maple, white pine, cherry, walnut and oaks. 

Karen Kennedy purchased the property in May 2020 and the conservation easement was established upon closing, allowing a legacy of nature to be preserved for life in McHenry County.