The Green Island oasis in Wadena
Minneapolis has a sculpture garden, and Wadena has Green Island. Sculptor Kent Scheer has added a sculpture walk and nature sanctuary to the "city of parks."
Green Island is just off U.S. Highway 71 on 850 Scheer Drive Northeast, across from Burger King and near the license bureau.
"It's kind of little island back in here that's devoted to wildlife and green space," Scheer said. "It really has an intent to serve wildlife and serve people in quiet and relaxing ways."
He said it also shares the name of a meditation retreat near Strasbourg, Germany, from the 13th century.
Scheer started Green Island along with Vicki Chepulis, co-founder and producer of the Trollwood Performing Arts School in Fargo. Chepulis recently retired and moved to Wadena.
They have also worked with the central Minnesota nonprofit Stimulating Economic Progress (STEP) to promote farmstays in the area.
Scheer said the Sculpture Walk is about two city blocks long and free for people to come and go as they want. Beyond the sculpture walk, the property includes almost a mile of trails, and people walking dogs are welcome.
With a grant from the Five Wings Arts Council, Scheer said he has been able to rent sculpture pieces from several other artists: Marcia McEachron of Minneapolis, Mary Williams of Clitherall, Tim Cassidy of New York Mills, Lloyd Harding of Hitterdahl and Beryl Wells Hamilton of Minneapolis.
The sculpture walk and trails feature thousands of trees, a hibernaculum for snakes, ponds for amphibians and waterfowl, raptor perches for owls and hawks, and a bird feeding station.
The feeding station is caged around to protect small songbirds from raptors, Scheer said. He also said that deer can easily destroy young trees, so these are also fenced around for protection.
Inside a coop next to a large bird bath-shaped sculpture, white pigeons talk to each other with the rhythm of a water softener. The pigeons fly in and out as they please, Scheer said.
Queen of the Prairie, currants and goldenrods are among the many types of plants featured along the walkway.
Scheer said that they are adding fruit plants edible for both birds and humans. While he said that Green Island is 2 to 3 years away from a significant harvest, a basket of Duchess of Oldenburg apples, the first harvest, sits on one of the tables by the driveway.
Like an indoor art gallery, he said, all the pieces in the sculpture walk are available for purchase.
A blue meditation hut is part of the sculpture walk. Scheer said he plans to add more for people who want to write, read or meditate.
He also said that they plan to add accommodations next summer for individuals who want an overnight retreat.
"People can come in just ones and twos, and we'll have small caravans that they can stay in and take some time for reflection, maybe meditation," Scheer said. "Just a short-term getaway for people who want a little space and a little distance from the rest of society for a short period of time."
He said that until then, Green Island is open for people who want to pitch tents. Tables, a barbecue stand and a water pump stand in a picnic area by the trail.
Scheer said that his grandparents, Harold and Margaret Boen, ran a dairy farm on the site from the 1930s to the 1950s. The daughter Helen and son-in-law Ralph Scheer, Kent Scheer's parents, got the property afterward as a retirement home and planted gardens and trees. Now, Scheer is turning the property into the Green Island project.
"This is a new purpose given to an old dairy farm," Scheer said.
The sculpture walk of Green Island has been open for about a month, but it is scheduled to have a dedication on Saturday, Sept. 18 at Market Music & More.