Farm Horizons, Sept. 2005

Gale Woods Park operates a real farm

By Ryan Gueningsman

One of the west metro’s best educational opportunities is nestled right alongside the finest in hiking trails, biking paths, and fishing in Hennepin County.

Gale Woods Farm, located on Whaletail Lake in Minnetrista, offers something for everyone.

The 410-acre park highlights a working farm at its centerpiece, used in an educational format, to demonstrate the practices and culture of contemporary small-scale production farming.

“It’s an educational working farm that produces food for people to eat,” said Farm Manager Tim Reese.

Vegetables, eggs, chicken, fruit, beef, lamb, maple syrup, and honey are all produced at the farm and are available for purchase. While the barn itself is only open to the public during scheduled programs, the chickens, sheep, and cattle can often be seen in the barnyard or the pasture.

The park is open seven days a week from sunrise to sunset, and offers a variety of programs throughout the year. During the growing season, about eight people work at the farm on a part-time basis.

Last year, the park had about 10,000 people who came to the park for some sort of program that was offered.

Park visitors can also enjoy three miles of hiking/biking trails that go through the pastures, hayfields, and woods.

Seasonally, the park also offers picnicking, fishing, canoe rental, and in the winter months snowshoeing and cross country skiing.

A pavilion can also be rented for company parties, weddings, and any sort of gathering, Reese said.

Gale Woods was a donation to the Three Rivers Park District by Richard and Isobel Gale, who established their farm in 1923.

Richard Gale was a Minnesota legislator and a United States congressman in the 1940s. The Gale family donated the farm to the park system with the hope of providing farm and nature-based learning for the public’s enjoyment. The park officially opened in August 2003.

Gale Woods Farm is located at 7210 Hennepin County Road 110 West, across the road from Westonka Recreational Association Park. For more information on Gale Woods, call (763) 694-2001, or visit www.galewoodsfarm.org.

“It’s been a great success,” Reese said. “People are visiting to experience farming. So few people live on a farm anymore, so it’s a good opportunity to show them how farms work.”

Upcoming events at Gale Woods Farm

• Sunday, Oct. 9

Kayak Tour on Whaletail Lake, 1 to 4 p.m. Enjoy paddling the quiet backwaters of Whaletail Lake as you soak up the fall colors. Meet at the Minnesota Department of Natural resources boat launch and paddle both the “whale” and the “tail” sections of the lake.

Stop for a short hike at Gale Woods Farm. Beginning kayaking skills needed for this three-mile round trip. Equipment provided. Reservations required – $40. Ages: 16+.

• Friday, October 28

Halloween Farm Fun, 5:30 to 9 p.m. Enjoy an evening of family Halloween fun. Take a wagon ride through the pastures lit by magnificently carved pumpkins, stop at the barn to meet the animals and hear their adventurous farm stories.

Hike to the pavilion for Halloween games, crafts, and treats. Come dressed in your favorite costume. Reservation required – $5.

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