Velma Caprarotta has a long history with and a deep-seated love of the Elkhart County land she recently donated to ACRES Land Trust. Born in 1924, she grew up in the farmhouse just across the road from her recently protected property. Her late husband, Francis, and his family emigrated from Italy to Chicago in 1925 and purchased the land across the road, now known as Caprarotta Family Natural Area, as a weekend retreat from the city.

Velma shares that as a child, she didn’t pay too much attention to Frank. She was much more interested in the birds and other wildlife in the area. One of her fondest memories is looking out her bedroom window at the land across the road, listening to the birds sing, hearing the water drip in the well just below.

After WWII, she and Frank married and raised a family of five sons while living in Velma’s childhood home. In 1959, as a way to keep the family name on the land across the road, they purchased it from her in-laws. They have owned it ever since.

Velma has since moved out of the area, but as time goes on, she’s realized how important it is to her that the land be protected permanently. She and her son, Gary, decided to donate the property to a conservation organization that would not only hold the deed but also preserve the land in perpetuity for its own sake. Looking high and low for a group that could help accomplish these goals, they “found ACRES to be the right people.”

Velma tells us, “I like what you do and that it’s forever.” The family will always see the old farm as home, and although it’s bittersweet to see the name change on the deed, they know that ACRES and its members protecting the land is the best thing that could happen to it.

“I love the land and wanted to keep the Caprarotta family name on it, and I feel great about protecting it with ACRES members.”

So do we, Velma. So do we.