Minnesota Goose Garden
A native Ojibwe flora preserve and sculpture garden

Welcome to the Minnesota Goose Garden! 

The Minnesota Goose Garden was first envisioned by artist Susan Swerda Foss in 1989, and with the technical and physical assistance provided by Rodney Foss, became botanical sculpture garden based on Ojibwe history.  It is located in east-central Minnesota and strives to preserve and promote education of the flora used by the Ojibwe tribes for food, medicine, utility and ceremony.  

Aerial view of the Minnesota Goose Garden 2013

Documentation of the flora used by the Ojibwe began in 1989 and planting started in 1996.  Over the span of eighteen years, three plantings (830' Canada Goose, 150' gosling, nest 70' in diameter) grew into three-dimensional shapes.

Sandhill Crane

Multiple paths weave through the world's largest living scuptures and signs with photos and information about each plant are posted within the garden.  Hand-sculpted animal totems and human likeness sculptures are also found within the garden; paper checklists that children can use to locate them are available at the entrance.  A wide assortment of live avians also reside in this natural habitat for native Minnesota birds; a checklist for birders is also provided.


Totem animals were the Ojibwe form of government and also defined individuals.  The Ojibwe belief was that EVERY type of plant has a use, given to them by the Creator: Gitchi Manitou.  There are no weeds in the Ojibwe world.  The five largest totems are:  Caribou, Black Bear, Grey Wolf, Canada Lynx and Moose.*  Other totems include: Timber Rattlesnake, Bald Eagle, Sandhill Crane, Channel Catfish, Common Loon, Pine Marten, Northern Pike, Merman, Double-Crested Cormorant, Canada Goose, White Sucker, Sturgeon, Lake Whitefish, North American Beaver, Herring Gull, Red-Tailed Hawk.

Meet Woman Blown by the Wind (Nih soo shih way yah she kwayas you explore the paths inside the Minnesota Goose Garden.  She greets you along with Ethnologist Frances Densmore.

*Partial funding for Susan to create these sculptures was made possible by a grant from the East Central Regional Arts Council thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.  Partial funding for the dozer work, purchase of flora and the Minnesota Goose Garden sign was made possible by a grant from the East Central Arts Council (ECAC) and the East Regional Development Commission with funds appropriated by the McKnight Foundation.

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