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Esko community garden ready for planting

After some much needed care, the garden has been restored to a healthy state and will now include a bee friendly pollinator garden.

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The community garden located behind the Thomson Township Hall in Esko is ready for summer 2021. (Izabel Johnson / ijohnson@pinejournal.com)

The community garden located behind the Thomson Township Hall in Esko is officially up and running, with approximately 10 plots available for rent.

Not only does the garden include plots of land for planting and five small apple trees, but also a bee friendly pollinator garden.

The $200 pollinator garden is a new addition to the space, spearheaded by University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener intern Kathy Rahkola, who has spent her spring working to restore the community garden space.

It currently takes up four plots in the garden and will need to be maintained for 10 years, according to Rahkola, who said she hopes to receive the pollinator plants and materials June 18, with funds mostly coming from a Carlton County Soil and Water Conservation District grant.

“The community garden has been underutilized over the past several years," Rahkola told the Thomson Township Board on Thursday, June 3. “This corridor will connect our regions to beekeepers, naturalists, gardeners and farmers within our community.”

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Rahkola's husband, Olli Rahkola, said the garden has been in that location for roughly eight years, but that it became overrun with weeds and grass from lack of maintenance.

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Before this spring, the Esko community garden had gone unused for a long period of time, becoming overgrown with weeds. (Photo courtesy of Kathy Rahkola)

Now, however, the Rahkolas, along with a small number of volunteers, have pruned, tilled and weeded the space in order to once again be able to offer the community with a place to garden.

While COVID-19 safety guidelines have prevented many volunteer activities, Rahkola said that she hopes to host a community volunteer day at the garden once restrictions loosen further.

As a part of her role with the Carlton County Extension Office, Rahkola also plans to visit second grade classrooms throughout Carlton County schools next year to share a presentation on the pollinators and invite classes to view the pollinator plots.

"This will help in educating our young and encouraging our second graders to visit our small garden space ... and hopefully encourage future gardeners to rent a space and try their hand at gardening," she said.

Plots at the community garden are now available, with a $20 annual fee. To find out more or to rent a plot, call Thomson Township Hall at 218-879-9719.

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