What is The Fargo Project?

Through The Fargo Project, local government uses a participatory process to help community members identify needs and the response to these needs. With water as the vehicle for connecting people to the land, this approach intentionally encourages a collective creative response. The World Garden Commons at Rabanus Park is the first installation of The Fargo Project. Artists, neighbors, engineers, landscape architects, and ecologists collaborate to transform a neighborhood stormwater basin into an ecological community commons.

While the 18-acre basin continues to hold stormwater during summer rains, the neighborhood benefits by gaining acres of prairie, walking trails, gathering spaces, and a community garden. The effort is made possible through partnerships with ecological artist Jackie Brookner (1945-2015), a growing group of community partners, the City of Fargo, the Fargo Park District, and funding from ArtPlace America, The Kresge Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Our Town, and the North Dakota Outdoor Heritage Fund.


Growing Together

A local community gardening group of volunteers has a mission to provide a safe place for our New American neighbors. We operate 6 community gardens in the Fargo area that produced over 45,000 lbs of food in 2015. Growing Together offers other events that encourage integration including  Community Table.


Natural Play

Fifth graders from West Fargo’s Westside Elementary created concepts for a natural play area that will also serve as a gateway into the basin. The design will evoke curiosity and encourage adults and children to explore World Garden Commons. The focal point of the natural play area will be a large tree encircled by logs for seating and climbing. Other features will include a tunnel, caves, bridges, a huge boulder, stepping stones, logs, and landscaping that encourages play.

Listening Garden

Listening Garden

At the center of World Garden Commons, the overall shape of the Listening Garden is based loosely on the shape of a human ear. It is meant to be an intimate place where one can listen to the natural sounds of the Commons: the grasses moving in the wind, the insects, the birds, the water; and where one can also “speak” back by making music with the slit drums. The log marimba adds a visual rhythm to the landscape.

Urban Ecology & Stormwater Basin Research – Natural Resources Management, NDSU

Current research at World Garden Commons has three major objectives: water quality, determining the best vegetation for future basins, and to assess the value neighbors, engineers, planners, artists and partners place on the aesthetics of developing an urban prairie.


Community Table Serves 300

The Community Table held in conjunction with Welcoming Week activities across the cities of Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo was a profound experience for many. Table hosts greeted attendees and welcomed families to sit with new friends and greet old ones. The vegetarian meal, much of which was harvested from Growing Together gardens, included an eggplant salad and stir-fry cooked on the grills onsite. Nothing was wasted: the table scraps, paper plates, napkins, table cloths, and even the silverware made of compostable materials were folded into the garden’s compost pile to degrade over winter and fertilize next year’s crops.

People from all walks of life, experiences, cultures and places shared a bit of their stories with their table mates. A map of the world on the back of the program spurred conversations about the community members at the tables.  After clean-up several people involved in the garden, research, planning and communication for World Garden Commons shared updates and tours of the site.


Partners in the Community Table include: FM-Area Foundation, 
Dakota Medical Foundation, Kilbourne Group, Square One, 
Park Co., Gate City Bank, Growing Together, 
Cultural Diversity Resources and 
The Fargo Project World Garden Commons.

What is a Stormwater Basin?

Our human influence through buildings, homes, lawns, parking lots, and roads have compounding effect on the landscape. Often our human effect on the landscape, and resulting infrastructure needed to mitigate stormwater – specifically stormwater basins are largely invisible or unnoticed by the everyday person, yet our property and roads are protected by this infrastructure.

This video acknowledges the primary function of World Garden Commons as a stormwater basin and it’s function. It answers what is the influence of humans and structures on land and water? How do we see our relationship with natural resources?

Discover the relationship between us and water, us and infrastructure, us and our landscape and how creative placemaking is a viable avenue to make stormwater basins, and our (human) relationship to our natural resources, visible.

Exhibition Focuses on the Work of The Fargo Project’s Lead Artist Jackie Brookner

Jackie Brookner, Fargo Project Lead & Ecological Artist

Jackie Brookner (1945-2015) Fargo Project Lead Ecological Artist

Bronx, NY, 2016—Wave Hill is pleased to present Jackie Brookner: Of Nature, the first retrospective tracing the expansive work of Jackie Brookner (1945–2015), an artist who was deeply engaged with the environment. Brookner’s groundbreaking, remediative sculptural environments were designed as ecological filters to cleanse gray water, urban storm water or agricultural runoff.

Jackie Brookner: Of Nature
September 13–December 4, 2016 
Contact: Martha Gellens marthag@wavehill.org

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