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Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and Breakfast to Open New North River Fronts Park Kids' Garden

RELEASED: May 26, 2006

EAU CLAIRE — A ribbon cutting ceremony and free pancake breakfast will mark the grand opening of the North River Fronts Park Kids' Garden from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 3, in North River Fronts Park, located at the intersection of Forest St. and Huyssen St. four blocks north of Madison St.

University of Wisconsin Extension staff for Eau Claire County and senior Michael Frey, Duluth, Minn., a biology major and service-learning service volunteer at UW-Eau Claire, will help children taking summer vegetable garden classes through UW-Extension plant a garden that they will tend throughout the summer. Kids' Garden classes at the park will take place from 10:30 to 11:45 a.m. Tuesdays, June 20-Aug. 15. Five to ten-year- olds are the targeted age group for the program.

"It takes a community to raise a child," said Nancy Coffey, Wisconsin Nutrition Education Program coordinator with Eau Claire County UW-Extension and the Kids' Garden project coordinator. "It also takes a community and its children to build a raised bed garden and grow a bountiful vegetable garden."

The garden plots were built by student and community volunteers in cooperation with the UW-Eau Claire Center for Service-Learning, Eau Claire City Parks and Recreation, the North River Fronts Neighborhood Association, UW-Extension Horticulture and Master Gardeners, and the UW-Extension Nutrition Education Program.

Jeremy Gragert, a UW-Eau Claire alumnus and an AmeriCorps* VISTA member working with the Center for Service-Learning, organized student volunteers to help build the garden plots. Gragert said part of his mission as an AmeriCorps* VISTA member is to help kids and college students get involved in and contribute to their communities while learning new skills.

Coffey said that through harvesting, cleaning and food preparation, the children try each of the garden vegetables several times throughout the program. Overall, last year the nearly 40 youth involved in the three Kids' Gardens in the city increased their willingness to eat seven out of the eight vegetables to which they were exposed.

According to Coffey, as one child tasted he said, "Hmmm…I'm not sure. I guess I better try it again!"

"Our aim is to get kids to eat more veggies," Coffey said. "Gardening is a fun way to do it."

The grand opening ceremony is being sponsored by Eau Claire County UW-Extension, UW-Eau Claire Center for Service-Learning and community partners.

For more information, contact Coffey at (715) 839-4712 or nancy.coffey@ces.uwex.edu.

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NW

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