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Community Garden Sprouts Up
On a sunny Friday afternoon the Riverbank Community Garden Coalition hosted families, students and partners as they unveiled their first ever community garden on the corner of Eighth Street and California Avenue opposite California Avenue School.

Adults and children alike gathered on Oct. 23 to press vegetables into the soft soil of half a dozen wooden planter boxes laid out on school property, give them a first watering and make speeches thanking their sponsors and donors.

The Coalition is a partnership with the Riverbank Unified School District, the City of Riverbank Parks & Recreation Department and the Community of Riverbank, organized to promote, create and preserve environmentally friendly community gardening.

Community gardening, said the project's leader Dotty Nygard, "helps families and communities secure access to nutritious food, reduce family food budgets, and explore new opportunities for recreation, skills development, exercise and education for all ages."

Nygard noted several businesses were supportive in the effort, among them Morris Nursery, Denair Lumber, Home Depot and Grover Landscape.

Nygard was followed by a representative of the University of California at Davis Extension Service, who praised this move to draw children and adults together in building a garden.

Some lower income families have problems securing access to vegetables and fruits and because of their unbalanced diet obesity often runs in such families, she said.

Children notoriously are not enthusiastic about eating vegetables but if you keep asking them they eventually will try vegetables, especially if they have had a hand in growing them.

Riverbank High agricultural teacher Jack Wool got special mention for construction of the planter boxes.

The garden lies on land that the district bought some years ago to provide parking space for the adjacent school but has donated for use as a garden until it is needed.

Crossroads School also has begun to prepare a garden site but is not as far along in its development, said Nygard. It is located on land adjacent to the school but owned by the city.

For more information on joining the garden project call the City Parks Department at 869-7010 or the Riverbank Project Action Director at 958-9503.