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The Conservation Foundation celebrated its 40th anniversary on November 8, 2012 by honoring the “Fab 40”—Art and Linda’s Wildflowers and 39 other partner organizations whose work has brought the foundation’s mission to life over the years.

Art Gara, of Art and Linda’s, said, “It is a tremendous honor to be recognized for the work our company has done over the past fifteen years creating native wildflower gardens for homes and businesses in the Chicago area. We are proud of the recognition we received today and we are humbled to be considered an important partner in the Conservation Foundation’s crucial work.”

Art and Linda’s shared the honor with business, governmental and organizational partners recognized by the foundation as outstanding contributors to the protection of the environment for future generations—including four park districts, four forest preserve districts, NICOR, Molex, the Green Earth Institute, and The Morton Arboretum, amongst others.

Board member and President and CEO of Deloitte & Touche LLP Stephen C. Van Arsdell told representatives and friends of “the Fab 40” at an appreciation dinner held in their honor, “Thanks to you, our future is very bright. Together we will continue to think globally, and act locally to protect our environmet, one step at a time, one acre at a time, one stream at a time.”

Art and Linda’s Wildflowers is authorized to provide Chicago area homes with the foundation’s “Conservation@Home” designation, based upon a set of conservation criteria:

Providing a nature-friendly environment for native plants and wildlife - birds, butterflies and other insects, small mammals and reptiles.

Capturing and using rainwater on site to irrigate the garden using rain barrels, rain gardens and bio-swales.

Discouraging weeds and ornamentals and encouraging sound conservation, stewardship and environmentally-friendly practices.

The Conservation Foundation, established in 1972, is dedicated to preserving and restoring open space and natural lands, and promoting stewardship of the environment in northeastern Illinois. Since its founding it has helped protect more than 30,000 acres of open space.

Art (second from left) on the stage after receiving his introduction and award along with some of the other honorees. All 40 organizations and businesses were represented and received their awards.

Art and Linda's filled two tables at this wonderful event where we invited some of our special friends and associates to share this happy moment with us.

Art and Linda -- "We started this company."

Bob and Debbie Jones - "They are wonderful people. They love the work we do for them and helped us through some rough times."

Rich and Mary Zarbock - "They are my oldest friends in Chicago. Rich was instrumental in my getting the business started."

Luis Venegas and his wife Adriana - "Luis is my crew chief and Adriana is a helper. Without Luis I would not have a business."

Gene Redlin and his wife Peggy - "Gene is a nurseryman and my major supplier of native trees and shrubs. He is also my major supplier of free advice on what to think and how to live my life."

Phil Cihlar (left) and Jim Arbuthnot - "Jim is my webmaster who replaced Karen Green who passed away several years ago. Phil is a friend filling in for Lana Gits, our graphic artist who recently moved to Kentucky."

Monica Buckley and her husband Jim - "Monica works for me part-time and is learning the business as an intern. She is very good at managing the business facets of the company. I call her my Director of Long Term Stragetic Planning / North America."

Russel Cerroke and his girlfriend Melissa Flint - "That is Russ to the right He is a forester. I generally don't pay Russ but give him points and credits to be redeemed at some future date."

"Art and Linda's is blessed to have so many wonderful people contributing to the success of our company."

The Fab 40, posed for a group photo - Brook McDonald, President and CEO - Conservation Foundation is in the light brown suit, first stair center.

Art and Jim Kleinwachter, Land Preservation Specialist and director of the Conservation@Home Program display the print of the Great Blue Heron which was awarded to all the "Fab 40" honorees.

The painting of the Great Blue Heron was accomplished by Nancy Williamson, a noted wildlife artist and Conservation Foundation member. The original painting was donated to the Foundation and was auctioned off at its 40th Anniversay Dinner and Auction, April 2012. Only 100 signed and numbered prints were made of this beautiful painting, to be used as special gifts and awards.



Art receiving the first annual Conservation Foundation's "Conservation@Home" Award at the Fall Membership and Awards luncheon, November 4, 2009.

Pictured are (from l to r) Alex Ragland (Designer, Art and Linda's), Brook McDonald (President/CEO, Conservation Foundation), Art, Jim Kleinwachter (Land Preservation Specialist, Conservation Foundation).

Art was honored for his "outstanding efforts to support and further the mission of The Conservation Foundation and its Conservation@Home Program, and to build more eco-friendly landscapes throughout the Chicago region."

"I feel so very grateful to be honored with this award by such a wonderful organization, the Conservation Foundation. Over the last so many years they have purchased to preserve forever land, watersheds, wetlands and rivers. They have outreached to thousands of people and numerous organizations, as well as government bodies, to inspire and educate us on the need to preserve our natural heritage. They and all their members are simply wonderful people.

"I only wish that my beloved mother and father (Bessie and Herbert) and my brother and sister (Melvin and Fay) would have lived to see this.

"For many years Linda and I would take our dogs (King and Luke) for long walks exploring the forest preserves around Chicago and other beautiful areas such as rivers, lakes, beaches, prairies, wetlands, waterfalls and so on in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. We were awed and inspired by the beauty and intricacy of the natural world.

"We wondered if it would be possible to capture the spirit of the natural world and transform people's homes and gardens to reflect the beauty we have seen and enjoyed."

Art and Linda's Wildflowers was started in 1997 and Yes It Is Possible !!

For more information, landscaping ideas, or to schedule an appointment, contact Art at 708-785-2943


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