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Preserve the Forest

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Wilder Forest Acquisition for Conservation, Preservation and Education

Imagine a beautiful forest. Huge oak trees tower above you, and maple trees have trunks so wide you can’t reach your arms around them. These trees have taken root in a 600-acre diverse ecological system, comprised of wetlands, marshlands, hardwood swamps, prairies, and lakes so clear that they still reveal their bottoms at twenty-foot depths. This is also a place with a long agricultural heritage and history, where for years organic farmers, school children and nature lovers have enjoyed and worked to preserve its beauty and value.

The Minnesota Food Association (MFA) is a thirty-year-old organization with a mission to build a sustainable food system based on social, economic and environmental justice through education, training and partnerships. For the past ten years, MFA has operated Big River Farms at Wilder Forest. Big River Farms is a certified organic training farm that offers an array of educational opportunities in sustainable agriculture for beginning farmers and the broader community.

We are seeking to acquire Wilder Forest and to protect this land as a piece of our heritage. Working with partners we will enhance existing programs and expand into agroforestry, pollinator habitat development, environmental education, research and more, while maintaining biodiversity and shore land and water-quality protection.

The forest encompasses critical, highly significant landscapes and is home to a historic schoolhouse, a small office building, three homes and a conference center. Minnesota County Biological Survey acknowledges the property’s extremely high biodiversity, regional significance, and historical/ecological value.

MFA's board of directors has taken action to pursue the purchase of Wilder Forest in order to:

  • Save and protect the property from development
  • Expand core programing of sustainable organic agriculture
  • Create recreation, education and research opportunities for young and old
  • Preserve these lands for all Minnesotans.

The Carnelian-Marine-St. Croix Watershed District (CMSCWD) identifies this land as having some of the highest-value natural resources in the watershed district. Washington County has identified Wilder Forest as a top-10 priority conservation area, and May Township has passed a resolution in support of this project. Washington County board is in support of the project too.

We are seeking your support. Working together with you and others we will create a place where people gather to learn ecologically sustainable and regenerative farming practices; where pollinators flourish and food systems are studied; and where human activities support and strengthen biodiversity. We envision a destination where generations will come to learn about sustainable food production, cook and eat locally grown food and discover how ecosystems are connected.

We are asking for your support of this vision. Please consider signing this letter of support endorsing the use of public funding to protect and preserve the Wilder Forest in perpetuity.

I ____________________________ endorse MFA’s effort to purchase the Wilder Forest.

With Gratitude,

Daniel Tilsen, Chair

Minnesota Food Association

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