Anna Desimone, author of “Welcome to the Agrihood” recently published a great article in Iconic Life. The article offers a glimpse into the various agrihoods around the country, including Serosun Farms.. A wonderful review of the many options for a healthier, happier lifestyle. Click below to see the full article.
Hey all you millennials. Here’s your opportunity to live on the farm without the work. Check out Serosun Farms Real Estate at www.serosunliving.com
Great Daily Herald article by Sherry Giewald about energy saving building practices. Swainson’s House at Serosun Farms is used as an example of a high performance luxury home. Click here to read more…
The Core Elements of Sustainable Home Building Design
We organize our approach around four core, interconnected areas that should be considered in designing, building, and operating sustainable homes: Resource Conservation, Energy Conservation, Water Conservation, and Environmental Quality. Many of the products, technologies and building techniques that we have selected address multiple areas within this list.
- Resource Conservation – Resource conservation focuses on reducing the demand that home construction and operation have on resources in general and, in particular, on non-renewable resources that are used to build and operate the home. This means reducing both the amount of resources used and the waste generated by manufacturing the materials used to build and outfit the home, by the construction process, and finally by living in and operating the home. Specific areas of focus include:
- Efficient Design – Design efficiency means creating homes that are right sized for the resident’s needs and that are efficiently designed to minimize the amount of materials, such as wood and concrete, needed to build the home.
- Use of Resilient or Durable Materials, Durable Design, Durable Construction Techniques – A durable home lasts longer, requires less maintenance, uses less materials over the life of the home, and generates less solid waste by reducing the need for replacing and repairing worn or failing components.
- Use of Materials and Material Manufacturers who employ the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – Green building can reduce the resource load of the house on the environment by selecting materials and products for the home that come from manufacturers who utilize the 3 R’s. They have reduced their consumption of resources by reducing the amount of materials incorporated in their products, reusing materials, and/or incorporating recycled materials and other waste streams as inputs into the production of their products.
- Use of products from renewable resources – The selection of materials and products that utilize renewable and rapidly renewable resources, such as wood from sustainably managed forests or rapidly renewable resources such as bamboo. These materials generally do not contribute to the depletion of our natural resource pool.
- Use of locally or regionally sourced resources and materials – The use of materials and products that are produced within 500 miles of the site reduces the energy requirements for transportation and helps support local businesses and the local economy.
- Waste reduction and recycling – Reuse and recycling of waste materials generated from the construction of the home and from the operation of the home lowers the solid waste burden on landfills and provide a source of materials for use in new green products.
- Energy Conservation – Energy conservation focuses on reducing the energy consumed by the home and its inhabitants as well as substituting clean and renewable energy sources for traditional ‘dirty’ energy sources. There are several concomitant benefits that include a smaller carbon footprint for the home and its inhabitants, less air and water pollution generated by the home, and the improved comfort and health of its inhabitants. The elements of energy conservation are generally applied in the following order:
- Passive Design Techniques – Passive solar design elements take advantage of sun and shade to heat and/or cool the home and include building orientation, window and eave design and placement, landscape design, and the use of thermal masses to store and radiate heat.
- Thermal Efficiency – Thermal efficiency starts with the shell of the home and includes the selection of improved traditional or advanced framing systems, insulated foundations, advanced insulation systems, along with thermally efficient windows, doors, skylights, and roofing systems. It also includes good, quality building techniques and materials such as adequate caulking, moisture control systems, etc. These elements are cost effective and can reduce heating and air conditioning loads by 40-60% over traditionally-built homes.
- Energy Efficient Elements – Use of high efficiency lighting, appliances, and other electrical systems to reduce electrical loads of the home, energy efficient water heating systems and The use of management systems such as home automation and automated lighting systems can optimize the use of energy by lighting systems, home heating and cooling systems, and other appliances and energy-consuming elements in the home.
- Alternative Energy Sources – The integration and use of clean, renewable energy sources available on the site including geothermal heating and air conditioning (ground source heat pumps), solar thermal (hot water) and photovoltaic (solar electric) systems, and small scale wind generators.
- Water Conservation – Water conservation includes reducing the amount of water consumed by the home and its inhabitants. It also includes reducing the homes impact on the local watershed and aquifer.
- Efficient Water Use – Low flow fixtures, water efficient appliances, efficient irrigation systems, and gray water systems all aim to reduce the overall consumption of water.
- Water capture/reuse – Rain harvesting systems that capture rainfall for reuse in irrigation reduce storm water runoff and increase water infiltration. Gray water systems similarly capture useable wastewater for irrigation.
- Water Quality management – High-efficiency water purification systems for potable water and use of a variety of techniques, from high-efficiency septic systems to landscaping elements, can be used to clean water infiltrating into the aquifer and water discharging to the watershed.
- Storm water management – Managing the storm water runoff from the home means improving both its quality and the timing of its release into the watershed to more closely match the characteristics of the natural runoff cycle. Landscaping elements such as rain gardens, permeable surfaces, rainwater infiltration systems, and other approaches turn water that would normally become surface runoff into a resource that waters trees, recharges groundwater, and provides a longer-term water source for streams. These approaches function to improve water quality by removing some pollutants from the runoff as it infiltrates the ground.
- Environmental Quality – This broad catchall for a variety of micro- and macro-environmental goals focuses on reducing or eliminating the impact of housing and house building on the natural and human environment. These include:
- Indoor environmental quality – Improvements in the environmental quality of life for people living in green homes may arise from improved indoor air quality, improved ventilation, etc. Approaches include the use of low VOC materials in home construction and finishing, solar/natural lighting systems, automated ventilation control systems, etc.
- Pollution Prevention/Reduction – The goal here is to limit the pollution that the home and its inhabitants create either directly from the operation of the home (e.g., energy use) or indirectly from the production of the products used in home construction.
- Habitat Protection/Development – Backyard habitat programs, the use of native plantings in landscaping, and other mitigating efforts can not only limit the impact a home has on the natural environment but can even improve local conditions.
- Soil and Water Conservation – The impact of the construction and operation of the home on soils and watersheds can be reduced or eliminated by limiting erosion, improving rainwater infiltration, and cleaning all runoff from the home site before it is discharged into the watershed.
Custom home building can be a challenging undertaking to manage and orchestrate by yourself. Add in all the great technology and complex systems that sustainable, high-performance homes bring to the table, and it can easily seem like an overwhelming task. There are many potential obstacles during the building process and potential pitfalls that might arise down the road if things aren’t managed properly. A homeowner will often work sequentially with an architect to design their home, then bid out the plans to a multiple builders, and then engage a builder along with various vendors and subcontractors to complete the project. If the plans become too complex, or construction costs go beyond budget, the homeowner may have to go back through the design process many more times until they are happy with the design and it falls within their price range. Once they start construction, homeowners often find that many of the systems specified don’t quite work the way they had planned, requiring another round of redesign. You can simplify things by going with a builder’s pre-packaged “semi-custom” home design, but you lose many of the great benefits of designing and building a true custom home that was meant specifically for you and for the place where you are intending to build it. You don’t get the full flexibility to really design and build your own dream home.
At Serosun, we believe that a true custom home meant for you is attainable without all of the challenges of taking it on by yourself. We have crafted a process and assembled a team to help you achieve that great design, and to provide the ultimate home-building experience for you through our “custom build process.” Our process brings the entire team together to focus on design, budget, sustainability and performance all at once. The value of having a collaborative team of architects, builders, vendors and contractors available to you, is that you get to leverage the experience and insights of the best in those areas while designing and building your home. By having the builder and our other partners involved as part of the early design process, we help keep the design within budget, keep all the systems coordinated to minimize issues during construction, and help to get the most out of the operation of those systems.
The value of a collaborative team cannot be underestimated in building a home, and particularly in building a sustainable, high-performance home. At Serosun, we make sure that our sales team, customer support team, architects, builders, contractors and vendors build close relationships, and we test them out on our model homes. We ensure that everyone on the team understands our goals, participates in the design process, and provides feedback so we can effectively integrate their building elements into the home. We also ensure that we are applying the best building techniques and products in the most economical way.
Preserved Farmland and Open Space
Serosun Farms Estate includes 300 acres of preserved farmland and restored upland and wetland prairie, savannah woodlands with walking trails, and stocked fishing ponds providing a beautifully maintained pastoral setting for the homes that will reside within the community. Our open space reflects the historical natural prairie ecosystems that were once present in this area and will be used to provide natural habitats, recreation, and buffer zones for the site. A recreational trail system will run through the Estate and connect the open spaces. An eight-mile trail system provides a shared-use environment for the community to explore the natural areas and provide recreation. It is intended to support hiking, jogging, biking cross-country skiing and equestrian uses. Fitness stations will be located along the trails.
Working Sustainable Farm
Direct from the field to your dinner plate — enjoy healthy sustainable food with a freshness, flavor, and tradition missing from the mass-produced items stocked by conventional grocery stores. At its core, Serosun Farms is a working sustainable farm that promotes local farming, healthy living, and an appreciation for fresh, organic foods. An on-site farmers market will feature grass-fed meat, produce, herbs, and other specialty items. Harvests will tempt cooks and food aficionados with regional, specialty, and gourmet items. Presently, the farm uses a hay, corn, and soybean rotation, but will transition to hay production. These hay products will supply the on-site equestrian center, local stables and dairy farms, as well as rehabilitate the soil and start the sustainable certification process. From this start, the farm will expand its program to include grass-fed beef and an initial selection of produce and herbs.
The vision for the farm includes:
- Vegetables , fresh herbs, and cut flowers
- Grass farming, including hay and silage for horses and livestock
- Grass-fed beef and other specialty livestock
- Free-range poultry
- Fruit trees, including apple, pear, plum, and cherry
- Berries, including raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, and blueberries
- Specialty crops such as asparagus and rhubarb, prairie seed, honey products, and other specialty items
Serosun Farms is a horse enthusiasts’ dream, with one of the most comprehensive and holistic boarding and training facilities in the Midwest. A state-of-the-art barn and arena are at the center of a rural estate with 410 acres of beautiful rolling countryside. These facilities are complemented by professional board and care, and high-level fitness and training programs. Primary facilities will include veterinary, breeding, and fitness facilities, indoor and outdoor riding arenas, dressage and jumping rings, and a large number of all-weather paddocks and pastures that ensure maximum turnout time for the horses. The barn currently has 12 large stallls with plans to expand to 36 in the futuer. High-quality hay is raised on site, and riders can enjoy over eight miles of serene trails through farm, woodlands, and prairie
Serosun offers many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors and fresh air, with great vistas. Outdoor recreational opportunities range from running, walking, bike riding, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing, to fishing and bird watching, and gardening. The community center will offer tennis, swimming, aerobics, and yoga. No matter what the season Serosun Farms offers opportunities to get outside and enjoy the natural surroundings.
Serosun Farms will be partnering with many local restaurants to supply them with sustainable produce, meats, cheeses and other specialty items. In addition to supplying local businesses, we will also be offering these items to our estate members at our Farmer’s Market and future Gourmet Deli. Imagine starting your day by enjoying a peaceful walk to the Farmers Market. Imagine not having to jump in your car and run to the grocery store at rush hour just to grab that one item you forgot for the wonderful meal you are preparing for your guests — instead, just run down to the Farmer’s Market or Gourmet Deli where you can grab only the freshest of selections. Sit on your front porch and take in the breathtaking views and sun set with your guests after dinner. Relax and enjoy, the Serosun Farms way.
Estate members will have an opportunity to manage “their farm” on a much smaller scale as well. Community garden areas are set aside to allow residents a chance to grow their own fruits and vegetables. Take advantage of Serosun Farm’s agricultural activities to learn tips and techniques in growing the best and freshest produce – from your garden straight to your kitchen.
Educational and Community Activity Programs
An innovative conservation community, Serosun Farms sets a new standard for living a healthier lifestyle in harmony with nature. The community serves as a living example for land, resource, and habitat management. These real examples create real learning opportunities. With 300 acres of open space, including restored prairie, wetlands and savanna, as well as equestrian and agricultural components, Serosun Farms provides many learning opportunities for you and your family. Serosun Farms facilitates many of these educational programs with a focus on nature, farming, food and cooking. Or simply explore the 300 acres for yourself. Serosun Farms also organizes many community activities. Stay involved, be happy, live healty and gain a sense of community.
Our community center will provide a wide range of amenities starting with its pool. The center will also include tennis and basketball courts, meeting event and business facilities, a fitness and game room, and a bar/grill. The center will enhance Serosun Farms’ sense of community as a venue to meet, work, relax, play, or learn. Events, activities, and various programs will take place at the community center. Beyond everyday use of the pool and court facilities, such as leisurely tennis matches or competitive pick-up basketball games, these activities may include business meetings, dinner events, and cooking classes
Community Broadband Service
Enjoy fast Internet service through Community Broadband at home or within the community. Sit at the Community Center and stay connected. In an effort to promote sustainability, residents will be able to access community documents and information from our website through our exclusive estate member portal. Enjoy one convenient location for all your community information.
Our professional estate management team is ready to help you with full-service concierge services to help maintain your residence and your lifestyle. We handle all the details for you. Need someone to “warm up” your home before your arrival? Just let us know. Our services can help you create enjoyable, worry-free living. Please contact us for a complete list of services we can provide.
Bed & Breakfast and Spa
Our vision is a real community with homes of architectural significance, intelligently designed to fit the land. This vision will bring to the site not only those who want to build their dream homes, to instill architecture into the rural charm of the land around us, but also those attracted by the sustainable precedence it represents. We want Serosun Farms to be a destination. Whether it is those settling in to raise their family, retreating from the city for the weekend, starting a new adventure after retirement, or folks passing through to appreciate the architecture and rural setting or to enjoy the many community amenities, Serosun Farms has something for everyone. Our vision includes bed and breakfast lodging in a future phase. You can take advantage of the B&B when your family comes to visit. Send them to the spa or meet them for breakfast at our on-site restaurant… of course utilizing some of the freshest and most sustainable food grown right here on the estate.
A large flock of Sandhill Cranes were seen circling the farm this weekend. The sight and sounds of Cranes are always a sure sign of spring but this is a little earlier than normal. We hope to have more visiting the farm this year. Last year we had a pair checking out the wetlands in the fall. We are still amazed at their remarkable turnaround from being an endangered species.
Sandhill Cranes give out unusual loud rattling bugle calls, each lasting a couple of seconds and often strung together. They can be heard up to 2.5 miles away and are given on the ground as well as in flight. They are very distinctive from the Canada Geese we frequently see and hear.
Check out the video that was recorded this past weekend to hear their distinctive call – Sandhill Cranes
Here are some cool facts you may have not known about Sandhill Crane’s
- The Sandhill Crane has recovered significantly in the last 30-40 years and now are fairly common though local to northern Illinois. They have expanded their territory into the Midwest prairie areas and are starting to nest further south. In some areas during migration they congregate in the hundreds of thousands.
- They are large birds, often over four feet tall.
- The Sandhill Crane’s call is a loud, rolling, trumpeting sound whose unique tone is a product of anatomy: Sandhill Cranes have long tracheas (windpipes) that coil into the sternum and help the sound develop a lower pitch and harmonics that add richness.
- Sandhill Cranes are known for their dancing skills. Courting cranes stretch their wings, pump their heads, bow, and leap into the air in a graceful and energetic dance.
- The elegance of cranes has inspired people in cultures all over the world—including the great scientist, conservationist, and nature writer Aldo Leopold, who wrote of their “nobility, won in the march of aeons.”
- Although some start breeding at two years of age, Sandhill Cranes may reach the age of seven before breeding. They mate for life—which can mean two decades or more—and stay with their mates year-round. Juveniles stick close by their parents for 9 or 10 months after hatching.
- The earliest Sandhill Crane fossil, estimated to be 2.5 million years old, was unearthed in the Macasphalt Shell Pit in Florida.
- Sandhill Crane chicks can leave the nest within 8 hours of hatching, and are even capable of swimming.
- The oldest Sandhill Crane on record was at least 36 years, 7 months old. Originally banded in Wyoming in 1973, it was found in New Mexico in 2010.
Winter is a magical time at the farm. We love the peaceful serenity of the woodlands, wetlands & prairie. Happy Holidays from everyone at Serosun Farms.
What a special night. On June 18, 2016, Serosun Farms hosted a Farm to Table dinner for a large group from the Boys and Girls Club of Elgin. Like Serosun Farms, these people are active supporters of their community and its organizations. Their donations to the Club was very generous, so we thought we’d treat them to a great dinner — Serosun Farms style, where many of the vegetables came directly from our garden.
If you’d like to learn more about our sustainable community, just contact us. We’d love to show you around.
Recently the Daily Herald published a story that featured Serosun Farms, including comments like this from our own John DeWald about our model home: “This is a one-of-a-kind home built for minimal environmental impact. But, we also created a living space packed with beauty and teeming with luxury.”
Beauty and luxury indeed. You can read the Daily Herald article at this link. The information about Serosun Farms appears about 1/4 of the way through the article.
And you can get a quick tour of our model at this link.