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Roots setting at Afton community garden?

Afton City Council has agreed to continue the Rinta Community Garden for another year. However, an annual $25 fee will be implemented next year. (Submitted photo)

Afton will be home to the Rinta Community Garden again next year, but with a few changes.

Afton City Council approved the continuation of the community garden, located on city parkland, during its Sept. 17 meeting.

The community garden, which is open to all residents of Afton, St. Mary’s Point, Lake St. Croix Beach, Lakeland Shores and Lakeland, was paid for through a $2,500 grant from the Lower St. Croix Valley Foundation.

The only stipulation of the grant was that the community garden cannot be used for commercial production.

The garden, located on Hudson Road and Interstate 94, includes roughly four acres and currently has 16 individual plots.

The site has room for an additional three, maybe four, plots, said Planning Commission Chairwoman Barb Ronningen, who spearheaded the community garden project.

Ronningen is a master gardener with the University of Minnesota Extension Services.

The grant was only valid for the first year.

Last month, City Council discussed two needs the garden will have next year.

First, it will require some sort of shed or structure to help collect rainwater into rain barrels, City Administrator Ron Moorse said.

The acquisition of a shelter will come with minimal cost, Moorse said, since a structure currently sitting on a city-owned property can be moved to the community garden site.

Another need for the garden next year will be a sturdier, more permanent, fence.

Public Works Director Ken Johnson said he was able to find wooden posts at a cost of $900-$1,000 each.

That cost does not include the actual fencing though, Johnson said.

Rather than the city fronting the entire cost, Council Member Randy Nelson questioned whether or not the other cities which utilize the garden can contribute.

Council Member Bill Palmquist made the motion that a $25 fee be charged to all gardeners as a way to offset future costs of the garden.

“The way I see it is we’re fronting the fence and then we’ll make that money back over time,” he said.

City Council ultimately approved the purchase of the fence, at a cost to be determined later, the relocation of a shed to the community garden and the implementation of a $25 fee.

Anyone interested in utilizing the community garden in 2014 will be asked to apply for a plot next year.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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