Indiana is known as highly productive farm country, with rich soils and a favorable climate for agriculture, particularly corn. Lena Park is an exception; situated in the heart of the Kankakee sand region, most of the soils are excessively drained and tend to be subject to serious wind erosion when plowed. What was bad for farming was good for nature, and some nice remnants of the native prairies and woodland remain. Other areas are being restored. Find out more on BigEastern.com's Edge of the Prairie web site.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines a dacha as a 'Russian country house or villa'. Often they're little more than shacks, but wealthy Russians have luxurious dachas - most Russians maintain a garden at their dacha because produce is much more expensive there. Here's a link about what the dacha experience means in traditional Russian life.
So is this a retreat? Call it that if you will, but 'retreat' sounds...well, somehow defeatist.
Is it ecotourism? In a way, yes. When you rent the cabin at Lena Park, you allow us to generate some revenue from these unspoiled landscapes in an environmentally conscious and sustainable way. But you needn't be particularly interested in lupinus perennis to enjoy a stay here. On the other hand, after a stay here you may get more interested; or perhaps more importantly, your children might become more interested.
Perhaps it's best described as an American version of the European country house, called a dacha, It's a green place, away from work but not so far away that going there is a burden. It's a place in touch with the seasons, connected with the timeless pleasures of fern filled glades, wildflower, fresh air, unhurried days and nights with friends, feasting and the lively art of conversation. We call it living.
Leonard Lucas grew up nearby; his father Charles, a school teacher, called their farm the Big Eastern, after the name of a large marsh that once covered hundreds of acres there. After serving as a navigator in a B-17 in the European theater in WW II, Leonard, a surveyor and civil engineer, assembled a property of 680 acres of land in the heart of the Kankakee sand country; including most of the former Lena Park development and land that had been owned by Prudential Insurance company. It's a mosaic of farmland, woodland and prairies. In the 1980s the family incorporated the farm, reviving the Big Eastern name.
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