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Leaf River Ag will be ready for spring planting

Photo by Rachelle Klemme Leaf River Ag's largest new building, the fertilizer building, is nearing completion at the southeast industrial park.1 / 2
Photo by Rachelle Klemme The warehouse building at Leaf River Ag stores piles of seed and feed. The new buildings in the southeast industrial park replaced the Highway 10 buildings destroyed by the June 17 tornado.2 / 2

Leaf River Ag will be fully operational by spring planting.

The agricultural co-op, originally on U.S. Highway 10, was destroyed by the June 17 tornado and rebuilt in the southeast industrial park just off U.S. Highway 71.

"We'll be able to meet the customers' needs when they want it. When green grass gets here, we'll be going," General Manager Scott Dau said.

He said the physical structures were complete, but there was still electrical and plumbing work to get done in some of the buildings.

The main office building, which was once a wood frame back in the fall, is up and running with a seed warehouse and feed warehouse attached.

"We moved in here about the first of January," Dau said.

Before then, Leaf River Ag had to make do with a trailer by the old U.S. Highway 10 site.

"We're done with the trailer. We moved everybody over here," Dau said.

Bird seed blends, cattle medicine supplies and a variety of other products are displayed on shelves in the office, ready for purchase. Dau said that customers have stopped in and taken walk-through tours, and organizations in town have contacted him about tours. He said Leaf River Ag will hopefully have an open house soon.

"Everything that we were doing before at the other location prior to the tornado we are doing here now," he said.

The largest building, the fertilizer building, holds about 10,000 tons. Dau said it was on the verge of being completed, and is capable of receiving fertilizer.

"We've been putting fertilizer in there for probably about three weeks now. However, the blending system is not completed yet. We should have that done by the end of the month," Dau said.

The Leaf River Ag property also contains a shop completed in January and a chemical shed built in February, making a total of four separate buildings. Dau said the shop is operational and running, but at this point, the chemical shed is not.

The rebuilding has piqued the interest of agricultural entities outside the Wadena area.

"We've had a number of other farm supply businesses -- both private and co-ops -- come and do a tour of the operation and see our buildings because they're thinking about doing some rebuilding or expansion in their own situations," Dau said.

He said that Leaf River Ag had received positive comments, and that the location was working well for them even without easy access to a railroad.

"That's in the city's hands right now. They have indicated recently that the funding is in place and that the rail spur will come," Dau said. "We've been able to get by without it. We've been bringing everything in by truck, and we still have capabilities of unloading rail cars at the other facility - where the tornado went through - if need be."

The old fertilizer building is still standing at the U.S. Highway 10 location.

"The future of that is uncertain at this time. I doubt if it will be demolished," Dau said. "If it's demolished, it won't be by us -- it'll be potentially by new owners."