Silver Bay Veterans Home Residents Win Awards at Lake County Fair

Residents of the Silver Bay Veterans Home brought home ten awards for gardening at the Lake County Fair this year. From Grand Champion for flower arrangement and Kale to first place in Raspberry Jam, the gardeners were justly proud of their awards.

Julie Luchsinger, Recreation Director for the Home, had a specific vision in mind for the garden program this summer. “I was just returning to my office, from picking cherries in the garden with a resident, when a cook approached me and asked if we had any basil available to put in tonight’s soup,” she said. “This is exactly what I had in mind for our garden program.”

The program was started in late winter when they asked each resident what garden items they’d love to eat. Nexus Trueself, a member of the Recreation team, drew up garden maps with resident input and provided plants from her own stock. In May, the team started to acquire flowers and plants from a local nursery, keeping them indoors until the frost threat was over.

When the plants moved outside, residents did too. Julie says that Allan, a resident who is passionate about growing tomatoes, is out every day tending to the welfare of his plants. When he invited Julie along to trim the plants, he urged her to trim anything that didn’t have fruit. She was a bit concerned about doing too much, but Allan said, “We’re growing tomatoes, not plants.” Although not ripe yet, the tomatoes took first place in the “green tomato” category and second place for cherry tomatoes.

“This has given Allan such purpose and joy as we plant and tend these plants,” Julie said. “And of course, after some more sunshine, he will enjoy eating these garden-fresh beauties.”

Lowell and his wife
51st Anniversary

Another resident, Lowell, spends time each day watering, trimming, and weeding the flowers on his household’s patio. He and Julie created the flower arrangement that won the Grand Champion ribbon at the county fair.

“Our gardens have provided us months of joy as we planned, planted, tended, and begin to harvest,” Julie said.

She added that residents from the memory care household spent months working on arts and crafts for display at the fair. A creation of flowers from parts of nature like birch bark and peanuts won a First Place award. Other works they exhibited included woodworking items, a leather belt buckle, sculptures, and paintings.

“Our Recreation Team enjoys finding out what interests our residents have and working with them one-on-one or in small groups to create works of art,” Julie said.

The Silver Bay Veterans Home officially opened on October 10, 1991, hosting a group of dignitaries including the late Governor Rudy Perpich and the late US Representative Jim Oberstar for the dedication. The Home started in 1989 in the Compton Elementary School building which was built in 1953. It is a skilled nursing facility that is, according to its brochure, “Serving those who have served with quality health care in an environment of trust, dignity, and sharing.”

The Silver Bay Veterans Home currently has 53 residents living on the campus and is operated under the authority of the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA). The MDVA serves more than 300,000 Minnesota veterans and their dependents, assisting them in obtaining benefits and services provided by the US Department of Veterans Affairs.

For information on the Silver Bay Veterans Home, visit or call 218-226-6300.