Mandan News

Friends and Neighbors open house

2012 marked the 100th anniversary of the Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory, south of Mandan. This year, another mile marker will be celebrated: the 30th anniversary of Area 4 SCD Cooperative Research Farm. (Brian Gray photo)

2012 marked the 100th anniversary of the Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory, south of Mandan. This year, another mile marker will be celebrated: the 30th anniversary of Area 4 SCD Cooperative Research Farm. (Brian Gray photo)

By Dustin White
Mandan News, editor

Sitting on top of a hill outside of the city of Mandan, a research lab has been perched for over a hundred years. Over the years, the trees have grown up around the buildings, shielding their view from the streets below.

For many, the research lab has long been forgotten. While many citizens have passed nearby, what lies upon that hill has been hidden to most. However, that doesn’t keep the individuals at the Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory from trying to get people informed of the work that they do.

Part of this outreach has come in the form of annual “Friends and Neighbors” day at the lab. This year marks a special occasion though, the 30th anniversary of the Area 4 SCD Cooperative Research Farm.

Area 4 was the result of a cooperation of 12 soil conservation districts that came together in order to do full-size field research. Having leased land from Roy Nelson in the past, the group was presented with an opportunity to utilize the entire farm.

Nelson, who had been suffering from health problems, presented the idea of leasing his entire farm. Doing so would allow for research to be done on fields similar to what would be done in actual practice.

Working through the Lewis and Clark Resource Conservation and Development Coordinator in 1982, the group was able to move forward. After working on a formal proposal, as well as writing up the lease agreement, Area 4 secured the land on Dec. 1, 1983. Throughout the years, the farm has passed onto Nelson’s children, who continue to be committed to research.

Open house
While the lab has opened its doors to the public since its founding, the current incarnation grew out of a twilight tour. These tours began over two decades ago, when the lab would invite area conservations groups to come out and explore the grounds.

Over the years, this has grown to be a much larger event, having secured additional sponsors and activities. Today, hundreds show up to partake in the variety of educational and entertainment programs that are offered.

This year is no exception. With planning having started over half a year ago, the lab is getting ready to host another open house event. A number of activities have been put together for the children who will be attending, including face painting, balloon animals and hat decorating. For parents and other adults, a number of educational presentations are scheduled, including sessions on edible prairie plants, environmental research and oilseeds to jet fuel.

The event begins at 2 p.m. on July 17, at the Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory, 1701 10th Avenue S.W. (south of the Heart River on Highway 6). A barbeque meal will be served around 5 p.m.
For more information, go to www.area4farm.org or call 701-667-3001.