Friday, October 28, 2022
Picture of Orchard Glen Park in the spring with text in a purple box that says Park Feature Orchard Glen



If you’ve ever explored Orchard Glen Park then you are familiar with the wandering path along the Red River through lush green forests. Maybe you’ve taken in the orchard in May where pink blossoms wait ready to bloom into one of the most fleeting but beautiful pleasures of a Fargo spring. Maybe you’ve spent time birdwatching looking for the Bobolink, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Northern Flicker or Red-headed Woodpecker. Maybe you’ve simply put out a blanket with a good book, listening to the sound of the breeze through the trees, families having picnics and hikers with their dogs. If you’ve ever explored Orchard Glen Park then you know that the park brings an opportunity to immerse yourself in nature in a way that makes it hard to believe that you are just outside Fargo city limits. But you are. In fact, you are standing just off South University Drive. 

Situated along the Red River, Orchard Glen is a 54.5 acre nature park that features vibrant pink blooms in the spring, lush green vegetation in the summer, vivid colors and apple picking in the fall and well-groomed cross country ski trails in the winter. The park is an Urban Woods and Prairies Initiative (UWP) site. The UWP Initiative is a joint project between Audubon Dakota and its partners meant to restore grassland and woodland areas along the Red River. Currently, there are nearly 1,000 acres enrolled within the project that were previously idle flood buyout sites.   

According to Craig Bjur of the Fargo Park District Foundation, the orchard was planted in the 1960s by a prominent local neurosurgeon who lived in the neighborhood. After the historic flooding of the late 1990s and early 2000s Cass County acquired the property through flood buy out programs. In 2016, the Fargo Park District obtained the orchard and surrounding property to create a nature park. 

Since then, Fargo Parks forester, arborists, maintenance staff and volunteers have worked to restore and maintain the natural grassland and woodland areas. According to Sam DeMarais, Fargo Park District Forester, the goal is to keep the park as natural as possible while also insuring it is well maintained and easily accessible for others to enjoy. While staying relatively primitive, the park still offers a mile and a half walking path for hikers and bikers, a parking area, temporary bathroom facilities and picnic tables.  

As part of the restoration done in the park, a 6,000 square foot pollinator garden was planted the summer of 2021. The garden contains several different species of plants and attracts bees, butterflies, moths, hummingbirds and other beneficial creatures that transfer pollen from bloom to bloom. If you stop by the garden on a mild summer day you will be greeted by hundreds of fluttering monarch butterflies, lazy bumblebees and maybe even a shy hummingbird or two.  

These busy pollinators are also imperative to the health of the orchard itself. Orchard Glen includes a variety of fruit trees including juneberries, cherries, pears, plums and of course, apples. The fruit produced in the park is open to all members of the public to be harvested but there are a few guidelines: only harvest fruit when it is in season; fruit can be harvested for personal use only; take care when harvesting and avoid damaging the trees; save some for others to enjoy as well. Each fruit is best harvested at certain times of the year – juneberries in June, cherries in July, pears in August, plums in late August and September, and apples in late August through October. You can even find a map indicating where different kinds of trees are planted to make your harvesting extra fruitful!  

Of course, fruit harvest is an exciting time in the orchard, but don’t miss the bloom in early spring as well! Fargo residents know that spring here can be quick and temperamental and so can the bloom season. Make sure to follow the Orchard Glen Bloom Tracker to make sure you don’t miss the natural and brief beauty that is a Midwestern orchard in bloom.  

Whether it is winter, spring, summer or fall if you find yourself needing a retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city and a return back to nature without traveling too far, Orchard Glen might just be your new favorite place.