Slowly but surely, plans are unfolding for a new garden at UMore Park.
Discovery Gardens, an education, research and outreach collaboration between the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) and the Rosemount Research and Outreach Center, is expected to start coming together this year.
The garden was initially planned for a spot near Whitetail Woods Regional Park, but funding challenges have moved it north to the Lone Rock trailhead area.
“We hope as resources and so on become available, some of the other pieces of the larger design can start to be implemented at that point,” said Bob Mugaas, garden program director at the Rosemount Research and Outreach Center.
Those pieces will likely include a selection of pollinator plants and a prairie overlook.
UMore Park, a university-owned, 5,000-acre site in Rosemount, has long nurtured an environmental mission — from providing space for CFANS research to planning for a sustainable community of up to 30,000 people.
At the same time, UMore is home to a gravel mine that the city of Rosemount recently approved for 24/7 operation. And on one side, the ground is littered with the remnants of a World War II-era gunpowder plant.
In 2013, Dakota County’s Master Gardeners group began edging out of UMore Park — a process that involved dismantling gardens — in anticipation of both the mining operation and the new discovery garden.
Mugaas said the Discovery Gardens site, located on a portion of UMore Park known as Vermillion Highlands, likely won’t be affected by the mining operation — for the time being, at least.
At this point, the plan is to build as much of the garden project as possible by making use of available resources.
“The bigger umbrella of Discovery Gardens and learning landscapes is not going away,” Mugaas said, “it’s just maybe getting developed in a little different way.”