A cornerstone for peace: The International Peace Garden

Cacti and succulents may not be the plants that come to mind when you think of the north, but more than 5,000 species are featured in a world-class collection at the Conservatory, an attraction at the International Peace Garden. Located near Bottineau, North Dakota, the garden receives electricity from Class C member North Central Electric Cooperative.

The world we live in is busy, and “busy” is a word that’s frequent in most of our vocabularies. We’re busy caring for and keeping up with our family schedules. Busy trying to chip away at our never-ending to-do lists. Busy being active members of our community. Busy, busy, busy. If only there was a place of solace.

Located in the heart of the Turtle Mountains resides the International Peace Garden, a 2,400-acre garden that naturally has a calming effect on its visitors. The International Peace Garden is a member of North Central Electric Cooperative, a Basin Electric Class C member.

The International Peace Garden is constructed around the geographic center of North America with territory residing in both North Dakota and Manitoba, Canada. Standing amidst its beauty, it’s hard to imagine the planning (and dreaming) it took to construct such a place.

“It all began in 1928 when a group of horticulturists and gardeners had the foresight and passion to form a place that focused on peace and friendship between Canada and the United States,” Tim Chapman, CEO of the International Peace Garden, says. “The mission of the Garden is to advocate for peace through conservation, education, recreation, arts, and culture.”

Today, approximately 40,000 people visit the International Peace Garden annually. Some of the most popular attractions in the Garden are listed below.

The Dedication Cairn

A cairn is a human-made pile, or stack of stone raised for a purpose. It was dedicated on July 14, 1932.

The Conservatory & Interpretive Center

This newly renovated building houses a restaurant, gift shop, horticulture library and most importantly, the Conservatory. The Conservatory is home to the Vitko Collection, one of the world’s most diverse collections of cacti and succulents that includes several rare and endangered species.

9/11 Memorial

The 9/11 Memorial includes iron remnants from the collapsed towers at the World Trade Center.
Floral Clock

The large clock received from the Bulova Watch Company in 1966 was replaced the summer of 2005 with a new clock from St. Louis, Missouri. The Floral Clock, measuring 18 feet with 2,000 to 5,000 plants, displays a unique floral design each year.

Children’s Natural Play Area

The play area centers around animals native to the Turtle Mountains. Components include climbing nets in the turtle area; bridges, dams, and lodges in the beaver zone; and a wolf-themed gathering circle with a fire ring at its center. Local indigenous communities advised on content that incorporates traditional teachings and native storytelling into each of the park’s play areas.

A variety of services are offered at the garden including wedding/venue rentals, camping and cabin rentals, and many picturesque locations for professional photography. The International Peace Garden also hosts an array of events throughout the year.

One would be remiss not to mention the International Music Camp (IMC) when talking about the International Peace Garden. Conveniently located on the southeast quadrant of the Garden, IMC offers weekly summer camp sessions where students immerse themselves in choral, band, orchestra, fiddle, guitar, and piano lessons, just to name a few. While the camp’s name speaks of its foundation in music, IMC also offers one week summer camp programs in dance, creative writing, painting, drawing, theatre, and other fine
arts disciplines.

“Our relationship with the International Peace Garden is truly a partnership and one of mutual success,” Tim Baumann, co-director of International Music Camp says. “We’re proud of the number of people we bring to the International Peace Garden for the first time, and we’re grateful that we can rent facilities from the International Peace Garden to make our programs a success.”

International Peace Garden
People from all walks of life visit the International Peace Garden to revel in the beautiful floral displays and enjoy the welcoming, peaceful atmosphere the garden provides.

One theme remains true when visiting with both the International Peace Garden and International Music Camp – they are grateful for their local electric cooperative that offers reliable electricity throughout the year.

Headquartered in Bottineau, North Dakota, North Central Electric is responsible for providing electricity services to five counties in north-central North Dakota. Both the International Peace Garden and IMC lie in their service area.

The International Peace Garden is a unique account when it comes to power infrastructure. Electricity is provided by numerous lines throughout the 2,400-acre park as opposed to a single line. Without electricity, popular displays like the sunken garden fountains, the floral clock, and the conservatory would lose their functionality – taking away from the “magic” of the garden.

“We can’t afford to lose power for long,” Chapman says. “Especially during the cold, winter months – that would be detrimental to our plant production as well as the succulent/cacti collection in The Conservatory.” Chapman says. “When our power went out during the ice storm in 2022, we were so thankful for North Central Electric’s quick response time, how they talked us through the process, and kept us informed on
their progress.”

Likewise, International Music Camp depends on their electricity needs to feed, house, and entertain their 2,000 campers throughout the summer.

“North Central Electric has been a great partner for IMC,” Baumann says. “Our campers spend roughly six days with us, and it’s of the utmost importance that we give them a positive experience while they’re here. This includes functioning air conditioners, running water pumps, proper lighting for performance venues, and so forth. From sun-up to sun-down, we need electricity to make camp successful, and we appreciate all North Central Electric and Basin Electric do to keep our lights on.”

The International Peace Garden and IMC also play an integral role for their surrounding communities.

“Whether it’s sending children to music camp, an opportunity for employment, or a destination for a family trip, we’re lucky to have them as part of our community,” says Pete Erickson, member services manager for North Central Electric.

The International Peace Garden has witnessed key events in America’s history including the Great Depression, World War II, and 9/11. Through it all, it remains a shining example of peace between nations, while offering a place of solace, in such a busy world, for visitors from around the globe.

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