The University of Minnesota Crookston’s Agriculture and Natural Resource department, along with the Horticulture program, are in the process of securing funding to further develop the Allen & Freda Pedersen Community Garden owned by the City of Crookston adjacent to campus. The space is located on County Road 71 next to the city’s Valley Technology Park.

“We are thrilled and grateful for the recent funds awarded by the Crookston Visitors Bureau and the Northwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership,” said U of M Crookston Horticulture Lab Services Coordinator and Horticulture Club Advisor Theresa Helgeson. “These two grants will enable us to market the community garden and bring in additional student workers for the summer.”

“U of M Crookston has the only four-year Horticulture baccalaureate degree in the state of Minnesota and we’re proud to have it here,” she added.

Other members on campus are also making plans to further develop the garden as former master gardener and U of M Crookston donor Allen Pedersen, who passed away in 2017, and other green enthusiasts intended in 2014.  

“It’s been 10 years since Allen, Professor Emeritus Dan Svedarsky, and others launched this community garden,” explained U of M Crookston Director of Outreach and Engagement Michelle Christopherson. “Food is a critical component for our students and community residents, social wellbeing and agriculture education will play an important role in the garden development.”  

“We have written a handful of grants to sustain this community effort and while we wait for those award results, we want to welcome the community into the garden by getting involved and growing some food this summer,” she added.

Collaborating partners include the City of Crookston along with the Crookston Economic Development Authority (EDA), Polk County Public Health, Northwest Research and Outreach Center, and support from the U of M Crookston Agriculture and Natural department, each of which will continue to play a critical role in the garden development.

The Allen & Freda Pedersen Community Garden will include 10 raised garden beds. Raised beds are for lease from May to October and each raised bed is eight (8) feet x four (4) feet x two (2) feet. Cost is $150 which includes a $50 gift certificate to the U of M Crookston Horticulture Plant Sale held on April 24, 25 and 26.

“The city continues to donate the space, and we want community involvement of all ages to engage,” Christopherson continued. “Raised beds will allow residents an opportunity to lease green space and grow their own food, while the pollinator plants, produce, pumpkin patch, sweet corn, and potentially a couple of pergolas remain on the list as additional grant funding is secured.”

Christopherson says financial contributions will be recognized with appropriate signage and partnership levels throughout the garden.

“Funding for this project will increase visibility, reach, awareness and generate additional revenue to sustain a summer garden manager,” she elevated. “Philanthropic inquiries have already resulted from the planning and organization of the community garden. Because of this interest, additional dollars will also be raised for a continual learning enterprise for students, staff, faculty, and the greater community.”

“The actions that have been stimulated were not anticipated and, while these actions are not secured for this summer’s endeavor, the symbolism and reality of the community garden is significant,” shared U of M Crookston Professor Emeritus Dan Svedarsky.

Revenue raised by garden sales along with grant monies are planned to be secured to further the status of Crookston to advance to a Step 3 participant in the GreenStep Cities program, Christopherson noted. Those investments will reignite the Allen & Freda Pedersen Garden, allowing the U of M Crookston Agriculture and Natural Resources department to reach two major milestones: (1) to further develop the size and scope of what initially started at the Allen & Freda Pederson Garden in 2014, and (2) to create activities and informational sessions that will educate the community on environmental changes that positively impact health and wellness.

“Collaborations with the City of Crookston, Northwest Research and Outreach Center, Polk County Public Health, Crookston Visitors Bureau, and the Northwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership all have contributed time, dollars, or both to engage community members to connect and develop an urban garden within city limits,” summed up U of M Crookston Associate Vice Chancellor of Agriculture & Natural Resources and Math, Science, and Technology Anthony Kern.

For more information about the garden, garden engagement, and raised beds, contact Michelle Christopherson or sign up today at

Story Contact: Michelle Christopherson - - (218) 281-8369