Hundreds of trees gifted to Tamarac by Detroit Lakes business

Bachmann family honors late patriarch with family tradition

Brad Bachmann’s family recently purchased a tree for every person who walked through Lakes Area Processing's doors on an early September day. Brad, who died from COVID on Oct. 3, 2021, planted thousands of trees with his family.<br/>
Contributed / Sarah Bachmann
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DETROIT LAKES — Brad Bachmann was well known in the Detroit Lakes business community for decades. By spring, he’ll become well known in the Tamarac Wildlife Refuge too.

Brad died from COVID in 2021. To honor what would’ve been his 57th birthday this year, the family decided to purchase a tree for every person who entered their family-owned business, Lakes Area Processing. The end tally was 550 people.

The idea to donate trees in his honor started with reaching out to the Department of Natural Resources, who referred the family to Tamarac Wildlife Refuge. Brad’s wife, Sarah, said the idea was discussed with the refuge’s Visitor Services Manager Kelly Blackledge.

“She loved it,” Sarah recalled, noting Blackledge made the donation simple. If the family brought her trees, she would take care of the rest.

“I believe school kids will help her plant the trees next spring,” Sarah said.


The large-scale tree planting is a proper way to celebrate Brad’s life, as he led planting endeavors with his children (Baxter, Ellie, Hesston, Tanner, Victor and Annie) that put thousands of seedlings into the ground.

lakes processing.jpg
Lakes Area Processing is a locally-owned business. After Brad Bachmann passed, his wife Sarah took sole ownership, three sons also work there: Baxter, Hesston and Victor.
Barbie Porter / Detroit Lakes Tribune

“I’m not kidding when I say we planted thousands of trees,” Sarah said. “When the kids were little we’d get 1,500 to 2,500 (seedlings) in the spring and go out with a shovel. Brad would dig the hole and we’d put the seedling in the hole.”

Along with the family activity, Sarah said her late husband taught their children the importance of giving back more than they take. Being a family full of avid hunters, he told them that planting trees was one way of balancing the scale with Mother Nature.

The positive response from friends, customers and community members about the tree planting initiative was enjoyable for the Bachmann family. Along with Sarah, Baxter, Hesston and Victor work at the family business located at 18776 Highway 59, Detroit Lakes.

As visitors chatted with her boys, Sarah was able to step back and watch. She saw Brad in the way her boys interacted with visitors, how they stood and in their mannerisms.

“It was like Brad was right here,” she said.

While Brad’s favorite tree was the evergreen, Sarah said the Tamarac Wildlife Refuge will decide what trees to purchase and plant. The Bachmann family hopes the students that plant the trees next spring enjoy the moment, so when they are adults they can return to the refuge and be proud they contributed to its lasting legacy.

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