Conservationist and organic farming pioneer Barbara MacArthur died on September 12, 2016 at the age of 82. Barbara was a pioneer who took positions on issues that now seem common and ordinary such as the importance of organic farming, wetland and groundwater preservation, and bird migration.
Barbara MacArthur, along with her late husband Alexander, owned and managed the 430 acre Strathmore Organic Farms (now known as Barrington Hills Farm) in Barrington Hills, which produced organic beef, wheat and soybeans for more than three decades. In 1989 Barbara founded the Land of Lincoln Organic Growers Association, which lobbied the state legislature to introduce a "certified organic" label on produce grown without chemicals.
After the historic opening of China in the early 1970s by President Nixon, Strathmore Organic Farms was chosen by President Nixon to host one of the first cultural exchange venues where the Chinese could visit a modern, progressive American Farm.
Barbara was intimately involved in the day-to-day operations of the farm and could be found walking among the herd of cattle, examining the fence line, and giving tours of the full working cattle farm. She was always keenly aware of the delicate balance between the operational needs of the farm and the fragile environment where it was located.
The slogan painted on a Strathmore Farms pickup truck summed up Barbara’s philosophy: “Where Nature is Always Boss.” “I hate the title boss,” she was known to say. Not only because she always chipped in and worked with her employees, but the idea of trying to artificially controlling nature was even less appealing.
For that reason Barbara maintained the woods on Strathmore Farm. The woods have been identified as an old growth forest, subject to a single cutting before the turn of the last century. The tree species are diverse and sustained by the variety of soils and ground water preserved in harmony with the forest canopy.
Her love of farming was never about the bottom line. She had the heart of the farmer who loved to work the land. Barbara, and her husband Alexander for whom the Village of Barrington Hills Board Room is named, spent decades fiercely defending Barrington Hills' tradition of open spaces.
Barbara was preceded in death by her husband Alexander who died in 1993. Survivors include son Lawrence “Lad” MacArthur of Barrington Hills, Illinois and daughters Jennifer Wilson of Spokane, Washington and Alexa MacArthur of Mercer Island, Washington.
Visitation, Friday, September 16, 2016 from 3pm until 8pm at Davenport Family Funeral Home, 149 W. Main St., Barrington, IL. Committal Service, Saturday, September 17, 2016 at 9:30am at Windridge Memorial Park Cemetery, 7014 S. Rawson Bridge Rd., Cary, IL. Interment to immediately follow.