The Central Minnesota
Sustainable Development Plan



Our Story

Population:  602

Median Age:  35

Median Income: $26,000 

Area:  .98 square miles

Most Common Industry:  Construction, Healthcare, Retail



The town is located east of the Crow Wing River on the edge of a prairie and bordered west and north by pine groves. Verndale was originally settled in 1877 by Civil War Veterans from Iowa. The Northern Pacific Railroad, and now Highway 10 which parallels it, rides through the middle of town.  Called, the “most beautiful town between Brainerd and Fargo”, Verndale was established quickly to serve the needs of settlers swarming to the area.    It then served as a booming wheat trading center with its two grain elevators, grist mill, and railroad station.  Today Verndale’s strong farming tradition continues with England Prairie Living Museum south of town serving as a model for harnessing new varieties of crops and as a market for local produce.   Many more stories are contained in Verndale’s History Museum. 

Verndale residents understand the importance of getting involved to help where it is needed, this is one of the greatest strengths it holds. Fund raisers are common in Verndale and these have helped to shape the community through challenges whether it is tornado recovery, illness, or community need. These efforts have built camaraderie, athletic field lights, and a new, thriving business district.  



Residents feel Verndale is a neat place to raise children as it is stated on their welcome sign.   This is also evidenced by the tremendous support for their school, which attracts many students from the area through their open enrollment program.  The school also houses community education and open gym programs.   The residents continue to be strong sponsors for a new referendum for continued expansion.  

Farmers are learning to strengthen local food economies in the community through innovative practices.  They are currently widening their flexibility through new crop varieties and expanding growing season with high tunnels.  Additionally, they are working collaboratively with area farmers to deliver fresh, local foods to schools and the hospital nearby with hopes of expanding their hub. 

The town supports small businesses that serve to meet basic needs including a grocery/thrift store, hardware, clinic, hair salon, and newspaper, as well as horse sales, manufacturing, and banking services.  The railroads still maintains a service hub and spur line for the area, which continues to help businesses survive.   

One of the most unique events in Verndale is the Bulls and Barrels…and Broncs, a two-day, indoor rodeo held annually in February.  It is Verndale Days that draws residents together.  Once known as Sunbonnet/Straw Hat Days, the festival sparks several events to celebrate:  a parade, fireworks and the one-act plays put on by actors from the community college.     

Verndale identified these additional assets in their community. 

Natural Assets:

Pine Forests

Wing and Leaf Rivers


Agriculture lands rich for fruits and vegetables


Cultural Assets:

Volunteers:  People work well together

Strong faith community

Sunbonnet Days celebrates early settlers

Farming Community

History museum focus on local history

Pioneer Museum focusing on agricultural community


Human Assets:

Healthcare providers



EMTs:  great responsiveness

Labor/construction workers

Newspaper in town


Social Assets:

Large indoor rodeo

Festivals throughout the year:  Verndale Days, Falls Festival, Christmas

Lion’s Club

DAC/Grocery Thriftstore to support the community needs

Meals on Wheels



Political Assets:

Responsive city employees



Financial Assets:

Financial institutions:  Star Bank

Lion’s Club scholarships

Successful local fund raising

Fire Department Spring Auction

Local businesses

Municipal liquor store


Built Assets:

Location on Hwy 10


Good roads

Well maintained city streets

City Park

Buildings available for new businesses

Auction Barn

Home for aging population

Grocery/Thrift store


Baseball/Football fields

Lion’s Club Community building for social functions

Several cafes

Four churches

Good city sewer and water

Railroad Service hub

Tri County Hospital  



When the subject of Verndale’s future started, people got really excited with ideas to continue growth and expansion for their community.  Ideas ranged from a local foods hub, vegetable processing plant, and an initiative for shop local –including agriculture, to completing the water and sewer projects, engaging the newspaper with resident’s comments and briefs, to more outside financing options to start up businesses. 

Community Goals

1. Assisted Living Facility (affordable) with satellite clinic/senior accessibility   

2. While Verndale is located between Lakewood Health Systems and Tri-County Health, it is lacking a local clinic for residents.  Additionally, as their population age, there is a growing need to house seniors in a way that would allow independence while having close access to medical attention.  By establishing a senior’s residence with a small clinic on the ground floor now, this could meet a future need for the community. 

3. School Referendum passed – to expand school

4. School is an important focus for this community.  It is already a strength that Verndale has –especially with a school that is attracting students from around the area with their Open Enrollment policy.  To pass the school referendum will help secure a solid educational future for the children.  

5. More job opportunities – reopen Custom Homes, funds to promote new businesses. 

6. The closing of Custom Homes manufacturing facility has left few opportunities for the skilled tradesmen in the area.  Additionally, residents are asking for more financing options to help businesses in the area start up.  By identifying a balanced mix of economic levers to create more job opportunities – manufacturing, vegetable processing, or housing—can help revive Verndale to the trading center it once was. 

For more information about Verndale, send an email to or visit their website at