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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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College Of Menominee Nation Gifted 35-Acre Public Garden
by Irene Kiefer - Tribal College Journal of American Indian Higher Education
This artwork representing the five clans of the Menominee people is among several installations donated to CMN as part of the 35-acre botanical garden, which will host the college's environmental research station initiatives. Artists represented in the "Menominee Clans" grouping are Ren Katchenago, Larry Fenske, and David Bartels. Photo by Dale Kakkak

A Wisconsin couple's interest in horticulture and environmental education has inspired a unique and significant gift to the College of Menominee Nation (CMN). Andrew and Sharon Gleisner deeded to CMN the 35-acre garden that had been their personal project since 1975.

After extensive restoration and planting on the former farmland, the Gleisners opened the tract to the public in 2000 as Arbor View Gardens. Its botanical array features many varieties of wildflowers and other flowering plants, the state's largest collection of woody plants, outdoor art installations, and facilities for educational and social events.

The development of Arbor View Gardens benefited from Sharon Gleisner's professional background in education and Andrew Gleisner's expertise in horticulture. Aiding in their project was Andrew's mentor and horticulture professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dr. Edward Hasselkus. A former curator of the University of Wisconsin Arboretum's Longenecker Horticultural Gardens, Hasselkus offered professional advice to the Gleisners and provided nearly 20% of the woody species now in the Arbor View collection. Other plantings on the property include many non-invasive plants from around the world that are acclimated to Wisconsin conditions.

Upon retiring, the Gleisners identified CMN as an appropriate recipient of the gardens, which had been occupied by European settlers following an 1830s treaty that ceded more than four million acres of ancestral Menominee land to the U.S. government.

While the garden is no longer public, its mission as a place for environmental conservation and biodiversity education will continue. CMN's president, Christopher Caldwell, says the college is planning on ways faculty members and CMN's Sustainable Development Institute can make use of the property's special characteristics. "We are grateful for the careful stewardship the Gleisners have given to this piece of Mother Earth," Caldwell says, "and for their thoughtfulness in returning it to the care of the tribe's college."

Caldwell noted that the college envisions possible environmental research station projects, adding that the land will be used for "our continuing academic work on the impact of climate change, phenomenology in this region, sustainable agriculture and ancient gardens of the Menominee people, and for classes such as natural resources, geoscience, and soil microbiology." CMN's imminent environmental research station is located near the city of Clintonville in Wisconsin's Waupaca County.

Having access to a large land area that is fenced and cleared of invasive species adds to its research potential, Caldwell says. "We have demonstration gardens adjacent to the college, but having additional space a few miles distant offers control sites that can extend knowledge gained in projects."

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