History

The Eco-Justice Center, an environmental education center, was founded in 2004 by the Racine Dominicans. In 2000, the Eco-Justice Center began as a seed idea during a Racine Dominican meeting called “Gather the Dreamers.” The meeting’s purpose was to envision new ways of putting the Racine Dominican’s value of justice into practice. Five sisters and one associate took the lead to develop the idea of an Eco-Justice Center, which became a reality in 2004 with the purchase of Dennis Kornwolf’s 15-acre homestead on Michna Road. In 2011, Eco-J became a non-profit organization under the sponsorship of the Racine Dominicans and today continues its evolution towards self-sustainability.

Organic gardening, beekeeping, raising chickens, geese, ducks, rabbits, and caring for three goats and five alpacas are some ways that we are living in a mutually enhancing relationship with Earth and those who share this land with us. Fiber from the alpacas is used for spinning, weaving, knitting, and felting; manure from the alpacas, goats, rabbits, chickens, geese, and ducks is composted and used in the organic gardens. Our bees pollinate both wild plants and garden crops. Extra garden produce is shared with those in need through Racine's food pantries. 

Protecting the land, as well as the plant and animal species that live on the property, is vital to the Racine Dominican Eco-Justice Center. So, too, is preserving the farm buildings that date from the 1870's onward. When our society is prone to tear down rather than fix up, when culture says that bigger and newer is better than smaller and older, we at the Eco-Justice Center aim to model sustainable, simple living, reverencing the land and all who have lived in this place before us. The property includes woods, a creek and vernal pond, pasture, gardens, orchard, vineyard, labyrinth and treehouse. 

Since our beginning in 2004, with the help and inspiration of many people, we have built a green addition to the 1912 farmhouse, assembled a green house and hoop house, constructed our Education Center, built a beautiful hermitage, remodeled the pig barn into a honey house, and created a tree house. Renewable energy features include solar hot water, solar electric, geo-thermal heating and cooling, and wind electric from our 10Kw wind turbine. Currently, 50% of our electrical use is generated from the solar panels and wind turbine.

We offer tours, field trips, workshopsecology camps, and employment for a high school and college-aged crew through our Farm Corps program. Volunteer opportunities abound at Eco-J for school and work-place groups, individuals, and those with mandated community service hours. Major annual events include a Farm-to-Table dinner in August and Fall Festival in September. In collaboration with Hawthorn Hollow and Racine Unified School District, Eco-J welcomes half of RUSD’s first graders for a Growing Healthy field trip in October. Eco-J continues to grow and collaborate as we near our 15th anniversary. Over 6,000 people visit EJC annually and we hope you will, too!