Master Gardeners at Work

Crow Wing County Master Gardeners dedicate many of their volunteer hours to many projects throughout the county including at the Northland Arboretum, Crow Wing County Fair, MN Teen Challenge and Good Samaritan Village in Brainerd, and the Pelican Woods Cemetery and the Nature Trail in Breezy Point.

Flower Planters at Gregory Park in Brainerd

Flower planters at Gregory Park have been planted and maintained by Master Gardener volunteers since 2007.

Pelican Woods Cemetery and Nature Trail in Breezy Point

Pelican Woods Cemetery is all about nature. Walking the trail around the perimeter of the property is a good way for visitors to breathe deep and relax. The Trail Stations have been designed to enhance the natural beauty of this unique setting; visitors find familiar and unfamiliar trees, flowers and greenery which grow well in Northern Minnesota’s harsh climate.

The cemetery is owned and managed by the City of Breezy Point, led by a group of volunteers on the Cemetery Commission. Landscape gardens were planned and developed by a team of Crow Wing County Master Gardeners, and had worked together on the project since 1999. While mowing, fertilizing, and “heavy” landscape maintenance work was handled by a contract employee, volunteers were there weekly for maintenance and planting sessions. At least one Master Gardener was on site to guide volunteer activities during the weekly work sessions, and plantings are well cared-for throughout the summer.

Memory Garden at Northland Arboretum in Brainerd

The Memory Garden at the Northland Arboretum is completed thanks to the hard work of several Master Gardeners. The Landscape Technology Class, along with several Master Gardeners, designed and installed a waterfall, bridge, pond, adjoining flower beds, pathways and a paved sitting area to complete the Memory Garden. The garden is composed of three tiers of boulders that expand more than 90 feet. Master Gardeners have been planning, planting, and maintaining the tiered area for several years. Hundreds of visitors stop at the garden, many to relax and reflect on loved ones they have lost. An irrigation system was installed in 2009.

One of the missions of the U of M Extension Master Gardener Program is to provide trained volunteers to educate the public with research-based information on the best practices in consumer-related horticulture and environmental stewardship. Crow Wing County Master Gardeners have taken this mission to task with the following projects:

Master Gardener Helpline

Crow Wing County Master Gardeners respond to questions year around. Horticulture-related questions are answered within 2-3 days of their receipt. Questions may be left on the Master Gardener Help Line voice mail at (218) 824-1068 and a Master Gardener will return your call.

Giving Gardens Project

Like so many individuals and organizations throughout the country, the Crow Wing County Master Gardeners came to the realization in mid-March that they would be unable to hold Gardening 101 classes at the Northland Arboretum in 2020. However, the committee agreed that it was imperative to do something to help the community during these challenging times. And so, the Giving Gardens project was born.

Master Gardeners established vegetable gardens at a portion of the expansive G101 site, with plans to donate all the vegetables, fruit and herbs produced. However, even more than getting their hands dirty, Master Gardeners love to educate. Why not give the knowledge and skills to grow your own tomato, in addition to the tomato itself? Particularly given that during these times of social isolation, economic hardship, and disrupted supply chains, more people were trying their hands at gardening than ever before.

The following fact sheets were developed by Crow Wing County Master Gardeners as a resource for how to grow prolific, well-liked vegetables. Common disease and pest problems are included, as well as a delicious recipe or two to use when all the work is bearing fruit.

Gardening Presentations at Good Samaritan – Woodland Campus 

Beginning in 2011, Master Gardeners partnered with the Good Samaritan Society to facilitate monthly gardening classes at their Woodland Campus in Brainerd. While presentations shopped in 2020 due to COVID, both residents and Master Gardeners look forward to reuniting for the monthly event.

Crow Wing County Master Gardeners also assist in the Good Samaritan Community Garden based on the Woodland campus! Good Samaritan residents can choose their raised bed and be matched up with a partner to help take care of it and harvest the veggies. Any extra harvested vegetables and flowers can be used in the Good Samaritan Dietary Departments and served at mealtime!

If you are interested in volunteering or want more information about this community garden, contact Woodland Campus at 218-829-1429.

Crow Wing County Fair – “Ask a Master Gardener” Booth

Since 2007, Master Gardeners have staffed a booth located in the Horticulture Building during the Crow Wing County Fair. Every day, visitors can obtain educational materials and get answers to their horticulture-related questions while reviewing a variety of horticulture exhibits.

Gardening Presentations at Brainerd Public Library

In 2007 the Brainerd Public Library and Crow Wing County Master Gardeners joined together to offer a variety of presentations. The popularity in the events has grown through the years and in 2014 the series was expanded to monthly classes. In 2020, due to Covid, the classes were moved to virtual ‘zoom’ presentations allowing a significant increase to the number of attendees. Click here for the schedule for current presentation topics and dates.

Writing Gardening Columns and Articles

For many years now, there was a gardening column written by a Master Gardener printed in the bi-monthly magazine Lake Country Journal. The column “Through the Garden Gate” covered many different aspects of horticulture.

Master Gardeners have contributed to a column in the Brainerd Dispatch since 2008. Due to tremendous interest and readership, what started as a monthly column, has evolved into a weekly column. The column includes answers to many horticulture-related questions as well as timely gardening tips. Questions for the column may be sent to

Master Gardeners also contribute articles to other groups’ publications such as “ArbLife” and lake associations newsletters.

Master Gardeners are helping to protect and restore many bodies of waters by assisting with the planting of shoreland buffers and rain gardens.

A shoreland buffer is a simple and direct method of protecting a lake by preserving or restoring a buffer of native vegetation along the shoreline. These buffers slow down and infiltrate the runoff that otherwise might be going straight into the lake.

A rain garden is a shallow depression on the landscape where planted native plants will promote the infiltration of runoff coming from other areas of the landscape. Contrary to shoreland buffers along lakeshores, rain gardens can be planted at properties all throughout the county.

Rain Garden at the Northland Arboretum in Brainerd

A demonstration rain garden was installed in conjunction with a Rain Garden Workshop in June of 2007 at the Northland Arboretum, Brainerd. Students from a local work readiness program, Master Gardeners and citizens worked with staff and volunteers from the Northland Arboretum and University of Minnesota Extension (Regional Center and Crow Wing County), in planning, design and implementation of the rain garden.

The rain garden was constructed west of the arboretum office and classroom building. The eastern edge of the rain garden allows for stormwater drainage from the parking lot for this building. A natural hillside boarders the western side of the rain garden and a berm was added to the south.

Central Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge Sustainable Garden

Since 2014, Crow Wing County Master Gardener volunteers have collaborated with Central Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge staff and guests to establish and maintain a healing outdoor area. This space includes raised vegetable gardens, an orchard, and pollinator gardens. The mission of this ongoing project is harness the healing power of nature, provide educational opportunities, and promote access to healthy, local food.