History Week: from trash to treasure
What was once the landfill in Brainerd is now a place where residents can hike, nordic ski, garden and more. Thursday, as part of Brainerd History Week, the Northland Arboretum held two tours to show people all the outdoor oasis has to offer. Hea...
What was once the landfill in Brainerd is now a place where residents can hike, nordic ski, garden and more.
Thursday, as part of Brainerd History Week, the Northland Arboretum held two tours to show people all the outdoor oasis has to offer.
Heather Baird, a Northland Arboretum board member and avid nordic skier, led a small group through a portion of the trails at the outdoor center. Some people want an introduction to the arboretum before they head out on the trails themselves, she said, and the Thursday tours let people dip their toes in the water before heading off on a hike of their own.
Matthew Hill, Northland Arboretum executive director, said the arboretum is a busy place and is thankful for the support it receives from the community. The facility hosts staff training events for all kinds of businesses, he said, as well as grad parties and weddings.
"We're almost booked up through 2017 for weddings," Hill said. "Which tells me we might have to raise our rate a little bit."
Though a nonprofit organization operating on a shoestring budget, the arboretum is an integral part of the community, Hill said. Area companies have taken to using the arboretum as a recruiting tool when trying to bring new employees to the area, he said.
The arboretum has recently added a fitness trail, Baird said. It started with three different stations of equipment, she said, and through pledges from various organizations, has expanded to 12 different stations on a 2-mile loop.
Today, the 40-acre former Brainerd landfill site is part of the 500-acre Northland Arboretum, situated in Crow Wing County between Brainerd and Baxter. The landfill closed in 1972. Nearly 200 acres of the arboretum serve as a nature conservancy and a prime example of a jack pine savanna, Baird said.
Throughout Baird's tour, she touched on the numerous events and groups that use the arboretum. These include the Country Sampler Picnic, Halloween Haunted Trail, Sertoma Winter Wonderland, Sour Grapes half-marathon and more. The Gardening 101 program allows people to rent out a garden plot and learn the basics of tending their own garden, she said.
The gardens and grounds are almost entirely maintained by an army of volunteers, Baird said, which includes the Master Gardeners and Master Arborists. The grounds include 12 miles of hiking and walking trails, along with snowshoe and cross country ski trails in the winter, she said.
SPENSER BICKETT may be reached at 218-855-5859 or email@example.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/spenserbickett .
This story has been updated to correctly identify the executive director of the Northland Arboretum.
The Dispatch regrets the error.