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Escalon Strong Keeps On Growing With Community
Escalon Strong member Aldah Johnson wields the hose to cut down on the dust, at left, while Andy Hagan does a little raking to even out the gravel in between the garden beds at the new Escalon Community Garden. Marg Jackson/The Times

The service-based Escalon Strong organization is delving into yet another area: developing a garden designed for the community.

Operating in the 2100 block of Jacson Avenue, on land donated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the new Escalon Community Garden will have planter boxes available for rent. Residents can sign up for the 12-by-4 individual garden boxes at a cost of $50 per year and grow a personal garden.

There are currently a dozen planter boxes ready for renting and officials with Escalon Strong are looking at having around three dozen installed by the time they are done adding the boxes to the roughly quarter-acre site.

The community garden here is modeled off a similar – though larger – one in Ripon, where they have some 75 garden spaces for residents.

“The Seventh day Adventist Church donated the space for us to use and everything you see here is either a donation or funded through local businesses,” explained Escalon Strong President Andy Hagan. “When businesses see that you’re really doing something, they want to help.”

Fencing was donated, the planter boxes were constructed through the FFA program at the high school, the gravel/rocks were purchased at a lower than market cost …. there have been many contributors to the project.

Hagan, who is also a member of the Escalon City Council and serves as Mayor Pro Tem, said that the goal of Escalon Strong is to mobilize and fill the gaps, helping residents in areas where city funds don’t reach.

Hagan and Escalon Strong Treasurer Aldah Jones were on site along Jackson Avenue early Sunday morning, Sept. 24, as they gear up for the Oct. 1 opening.

They both are anxious to see the garden boxes rented, so residents can start to grow some of their own food.

“I’m looking for a lot of vegetables and flowers to be grown,” said Johnson, who has spearheaded the Community Garden project for the service group. “The (Escalon-Farmington) Community Garden Club will rent one planter box from us and they are going to create a pollinator garden.”

And while they are excited for the opening of the Community Garden, it is just one effort that Escalon Strong is involved with in the city. They also work in conjunction with OASIS, a non-profit in Stockton, to bring in surplus food for distribution on a weekly basis. The giveaway is for anyone in the community and right now the Thursday distribution is hosted at the Almond Grove Mobile Home Park on Jackson Avenue.

They also are planning a fundraising Cornhole Tournament, set for Saturday, Oct. 21 at Hogan-Ennis Park; sign-ups are being taken at

And, noted Hagan, they are partnering with the Escalon High School varsity soccer girls, working the snack bar at Hogan-Ennis Park, with a 50/50 split of the proceeds, the soccer team using it for their program and Escalon Strong using their funds for benefiting youth programs in the community.

For more information about renting a planter box in the Escalon Community Garden, contact Johnson at 209-610-1136.

Planter boxes that will be rented out were built by Escalon FFA members earlier this year; the new Escalon Community Garden will be open and spaces available to rent as of Oct. 1. Marg Jackson/The Times