Green Island: a staycation must
By Jessica Keddy
Staycation – Week 2 – Green Island
If you read the paper two weeks ago, you may have seen the article about geocaching and how my family is really into it. If you missed it, we have back copies of the paper for $1.25 here at our office. Geocaching is a game you play outdoors with your GPS. You go to specific coordinates and look for a hidden geocache. Because of this game, we discovered another perfect spot for a day of Wadena staycation fun – Green Island – totally by accident. We were looking for looking for a geocache called “An Island in Wadena?” and in addition to the cache, ended up finding a whole lot more.
There are actually two geocaches stashed on Kent Scheer and Vicki Chepulis’s piece of land. The first is right off their driveway and the second; “For the Birds” is a bit more involved. We spread our searches over two different visits. We actually had to have help from other geocaching friends with the second cache because we could not find it! Since we knew NOTHING about Green Island we felt like we were trespassing. I was assured it was okay and we wouldn’t be spending the night in the Wadena County Jail or be shot on sight.
You’ve probably driven by Green Island 100 times on your way north out of Wadena on Highway 71 and didn’t even notice it. I know we hadn’t. There is a cool wood sign on the east side of the road that simply says “Green Island” with some green trees on it. There is also a yellow road sign showcasing a farmer with really good posture on it.
Their website, http://greenislandpreserve.com, describes Green Island as “a 60 acre remnant of family farm enclosed within Wadena. It is a private, reforested green space dedicated to the general of ecological goods and services, for the future.” There are a lot of things going on within those 60 acres. Some of the cool things that I’ve learned about are apple trees that will be ready to harvest in the fall, red currants that are harvested in July, bird feeders, walking trails, meditation facilities, an outdoor art gallery and my least favorite, but still very important and a drawing point for some, a hibernacula. I had to Google what a hibernacula is and had nightmares after I found out that people make these things on purpose. A hibernacula is an area specifically designed for snakes and other amphibians to hibernate in. I was informed that I’d be on the call list for the first snake sighting. I’m overjoyed.
One of the things that I’m most excited about and think my kids will love is the story walks that they will start doing once the snow melts. I expect that to be in mid-August. Just kidding. They plan on starting these up again in May. A story is read while the kids/parents/grandparents and guide walk and read along one of their many trails.
While Green Island is private land and home, Kent and Vicki open it up to the public for quiet uses. They encourage people to come out and walk around, have picnics, stroll through their sculpture walk (which is always changing because the sculptures are for sale or on lease), and to use their kick sleds free of charge! If you are unfamiliar with kick sleds, they look like a pair of cross country skis with a bench on the front of them with handles. When I talked to Kent he said that as far as he knows, Green Island is the only place in the United States that has kick sleds for people to use, free of charge! Thanks to the Minnesota Department of Health - SHIP (Statewide Health Improvement Program) Grant and Operation Roundup, which is part of the Co-Op Electric, Green Island has ten kick sleds available. The goal is for kids and families to stay active year round.
The “Green Island Mission: To showcase a healthy, balanced, and fruitful landscape generating beneficial ecological services, and to tap only its surplus for human use.” While we are lucky and live in an area with lots of trees, fields, clean air and water, that isn’t the case everywhere. We need to preserve and protect what we have and try to clean up and leave behind a better earth for future generations. And that is exactly what Green Island is all about. If you get a chance, check it out. It’s another little gem hidden right here.