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Agassiz Audubon sets Volunteer Work Day for Northwest Minnesota Pollinator Garden

Sign at Northwest Minnesota Pollinator Garden, where a Volunteer Work Day is set for Saturday, June 15. (Photo courtesy of Agassiz Audubon Society)

Agassiz Audubon Society is organizing a Volunteer Work Day event for Saturday, June 15, at the Northwest Minnesota Pollinator Garden, east of Warren, Minn. Volunteers will install nest boxes, mulch the garden beds and paths, plant trees and help put up a garden fence.

Perry Vogel of the Purple Martin Association of the Dakotas will explain how to select, install and monitor martin houses. Heidi Hughes of Agassiz Audubon will identify plants and birds, and John Hess of rural Argyle, Minn., will lead the fencing crew.

Volunteers are encouraged to bring rakes, gloves and shovels. Lunch and beverages will be provided for everyone who signs up by phone at (218) 745-5663 or by email at AgassizAudubon@gmail.com.

The Northwest Minnesota Pollinator Garden project began as a collaborative effort between the Middle Snake Tamarac Rivers Watershed District, Agassiz Audubon Society and the University of Minnesota-Crookston to develop a 2-acre demonstration pollinator garden on land owned by the Watershed District.

Initial funding came from a grant from the Northwest Minnesota Foundation, and donations in memory of Sarah F. Gunderson of Thompson, N.D.; Tom Valega of Linden, N.J.; and Christine Boman of Warren, Minn.

With a grant from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the Horticulture Program at UMC hired Twin Cities-based landscape architect Carmen Simonet to design the garden and create four interpretive signs.

UMC obtained local genotype native plant seeds and grew them in their greenhouses, and Agassiz Audubon Society organized a team of volunteers to install the plants in June 2015.

The Pollinator Garden project received additional support from the Northwest Minnesota Foundation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, the Warren Area Community Fund and Pheasants Forever. Agassiz Audubon volunteers cleared a parking area and installed garden paths and a bench, and Warren-area Boy Scout Troop 50 built boxes for native bees and mulched the garden.

Last fall, the Watershed District installed a chimney swift tower and visitor information kiosk funded by Agassiz Audubon and constructed by students in Nathan Wozniak's Industrial Technology class at Warren-Alvarado-Oslo High School.

Then came the harsh winter, and the local deer population started using the garden as a feeding station. Agassiz Audubon board member John Hess designed a deer-proof fence, and PKM Electric Cooperative donated and installed the fence corner posts. Agassiz Audubon purchased support posts and metal fencing, but volunteers are needed to help finish installing the fence and to weed and mulch the garden beds with straw mulch donated by Carlson Prairie Seeds.

Future plans include additional plantings (bur oaks, prairie grasses and forbs), benches and signs, pergolas, council rings, trails and boardwalks and a composting toilet.

For more information about the Pollinator Garden, the upcoming Volunteer Day or sponsorships, memorials and naming opportunities, contact Heidi Hughes of Agassiz Audubon at (218) 745-5663.

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