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Lake Region Takes Root Community Garden

The local foods project of Lake Region Healthcare is part of our growing commitment to wellness and preventive healthcare. To achieve optimal health, people in our region need access to affordable fresh produce. This project is a means of achieving this important element of contributing to a healthier community. View our project brochure.

We need volunteers to keep our garden growing! No special skills needed—just people who want to help. Read more about the garden's volunteer opportunities.

Progress reports

Each year, thousands of pounds of food is harvested from this 1.5 acre plot. All of it grown, tended to and harvested by community volunteers. Our historical estimated for total food harvested annually through the garden's history is:

  • 2021: 15,700 pounds
  • 2020: 15,000 pounds
  • 2019: 14,000 pounds
  • 2018: 10,600 pounds
  • 2017: 11,300 pounds
  • 2016: 9,300 pounds
  • 2015: 7,781 pounds
  • 2014: 4,500 pounds
  • 2013: 1,600 pounds

All food is donated to Otter Tail County WIC families and area food shelves and is estimated to help over 3,000 individuals eat a healthier diet each year.

Other major milestones so far include:

  • Donation of funds and labor to construct a high tunnel to extend our growing season (thanks to Fergus Falls Noon Rotary).
  • Addition of a grill and several benches and tables to our education area on the Pergola.
  • Planting the orchard (thanks to LRH employee donations).
  • Construction of the Pergola (thanks to Home Depot Foundation)
  • Paver Patio at the Pergola (thanks to Home Depot Foundation and Noon Rotary).
  • Placement and planting of 22 re-purposed raised bed gardens (from the Otter Garden).
  • Construction of several additional gardens (thanks to service clubs, boy scouts and girl scouts).
  • Installation of permanent water source (thanks to PartnerSHIP 4 Health grant).
  • Placement of a storage shed (thanks to a private donor).
  • General garden design, preparation, maintenance, and development, thanks to dozens of individual, nonprofit, and corporate partners (many who are listed below).
  • Partnership with a University of Minnesota Design Team from Central Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships. CSBR's Design for Community Resilience program is creating a master plan for Lake Region Takes Root, including future phases and ongoing infrastructure projects, such as a packing and receiving shed and handicap-accessible gardening spaces.

Project details

What: Lake Region Healthcare, along with other community partners, is growing food for families having difficulty accessing healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, through a project called Lake Region Takes Root.

This initiative was developed to meet a specific need identified through the 2012 Community Health Assessment conducted by Lake Region Healthcare and Otter Tail County Public Health, which indicated families with children under 21 years of age are concerned about the ability to access fresh fruits and vegetables at affordable prices. A 1.5 acre parcel of land located at 260 Kennedy Park Circle in Fergus Falls was donated to Lake Region Healthcare to make an impact on health. Using this resource to grow local whole foods is a natural fit with our organization's vision and commitment to improving community health.

The project is equally about community education. The facility is designed to be a place where people of all ages can learn the value of foods and the importance of nutrient-dense foods and experience a variety of growing methodologies aimed at inspiring residents to grow a portion of their own foods. Educators, master gardeners, dietitians and other wellness experts use the facility for hands-on learning and educational opportunities.

Who: Foods grown at the site will be used to serve Women Infant's and Children's (WIC) clients of Otter Tail County. Any overage of foods will be donated to area food shelf organizations. The development of the site, planting, maintenance, harvesting and distribution activities is a collaboration of partnerships with individuals and organizations that are committed to improving our local foods system.

Why: Care for chronic disease, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, accounts for an estimated 75 percent of all healthcare spending in the U.S.

Eating healthy foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Yet access to fresh local whole foods can be a challenge for many families and individuals.

We all have a stake in supporting the health of our community members.

Where: The land is located on the west edge of Fergus Falls at 260 Kennedy Park Circle, just south of the Lake Region Healthcare Walk-In Clinic and west of Home Depot.

When: First phase of planting of vegetables in raised bed gardens and fruit trees in the orchard began in May 2013. The entire project will be phased in over the course of the next several years, depending on resources and available funding.

How can you be involved?

  • Recruit your club or organization to help with a one-day project or a long-term service effort.
  • Volunteer to work on special projects, planting days, maintaining the garden, harvesting or distribution of foods.
  • Share your expertise with our planners.
  • Help with fundraising.
  • Donate money or extra/unused gardening tools/supplies or equipment.

Garden needs

The following are some of the needs identified for the Community Garden project. People/volunteers are our No. 1 need! This project presents a great opportunity for youth groups, service clubs, organizations and individuals to be a part of an amazing community impact project.

  • Lawn tractor and tiller.
  • Above/underground water storage tanks.
  • Fencing.
  • Weed barrier.
  • Hoes.
  • Rakes.
  • Wood and landscaping blocks for raised bed gardens.
  • Perennial plants.
  • Flowers.
  • Garden and soaker hoses.
  • Garden and pruning shears.
  • Scale.
  • Compost bins.
  • Tomato cages, plant stakes and aisle markers.
  • Shower wands.
  • Shepherds hooks, birdhouses and bird seed.
  • Donors and grant writers.
  • Volunteers.
  • Groups to build raised-bed gardens.
  • Experts in orchards, vegetables, flowers, composting, landscaping.
  • Financial contributions.

If you are interested in volunteering, please contact the Volunteer Office at 218.736.8498.

If you have questions about the garden project or its needs, please contact Jason at 701.306.5280.

Financial contributions are also welcome to help meet annual expenses related to supplies and maintenance.

Financial contributions are tax-deductible and can be made through the LRH Foundation online, in person at 712 Cascade St. S., Fergus Falls, MN 56537 or by calling 218.736.8193

Thank you, donors

We are extremely grateful for the tremendous community support of this endeavor. There are individual donors of time, talent, goods and money that are too numerous to mention. We also extend appreciation to these businesses and organizations who have made generous contributions toward the progress of this initiative:

  • Anderson Land Surveying.
  • Bluebird Gardens.
  • Butler Cat.
  • City of Fergus Falls.
  • Cullens Home Center.
  • Delzer Construction.
  • Feel Good Gardens.
  • Fergus Falls Community Food Shelf.
  • Fergus Falls School District.
  • Forget Me Not.
  • Harold Stanislawski.
  • Hanson's Plumbing.
  • Hutchins Tree Service.
  • Lake Region Healthcare Foundation.
  • Otter Electric.
  • Otter Tail Power.
  • Outdoor Renovations.
  • PartnerSHIP 4 Health.
  • Pedogenesis.
  • RDO Equipment.
  • Signworks.
  • Swedberg Nursery.
  • The National Gardening Association and Mantis Tiller 2014 donor.
  • Volden Construction.
  • West Otter Tail County Master Gardener Association.
  • West Otter Tail Soil & Water Conservation District.

U of MN design team recommendations

Funded by NW and Central Region Sustainable Development Partnerships, the University of Minnesota's Center for Sustainable Building Research in the fall of 2014 worked on a Master Plan for Lake Region Takes Root, including future phases and ongoing infrastructure projects. You can access the report at the following links:

Check out this video produced by the Minnesota Department of Health and this piece created by the Minnesota Department of Human Services for more about our garden story.

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