Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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May 7, 2013

Festival planned at Merry Lea nature center

WOLF LAKE — Personnel at Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College will kick off their annual NatureFest Friday with a haymow concert in the Farmstead Barn at 8:30 p.m. A folk group, The Nearby Elsewhere, will play.

The Nearby Elsewhere is composed of Craig Mast, Kate Truscello and David Kempf, all from the Goshen/Elkhart area. The trio uses the fiddle, guitar, mandolin and banjo to preserve traditional tunes, give new folk-life to cover songs, and play some original material of their own, according to event organizers.

NatureFest features a variety of activities, including hiking, container gardening, catching insects and tasting wild edibles. All festivities take place at Merry Lea’s farmstead. This year’s theme, “Nature Nurtures Us All,” includes booths and activities that demonstrate the dependence of humans on the Earth for food, clothing and shelter, according to organizers.

Woodworker Dave Miller of Goshen, a former program director at Merry Lea, will demonstrate his favorite hobby.

Julie Davidson, Columbia City, and her daughter, Elena, own sheep and can transform wool into handcrafted garments. Visitors can watch them spinning and learn about natural dyes.

At Merry Lea’s agroecology booth, the program’s new eggmobile. This coop on wheels with portable fencing allows the chickens to graze outdoors on fresh pastures.

Farm to Fork, a program of the Noble County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau that aims to educate the public about its local food producers, will also be represented.

At 8 a.m. Saturday morning, athletes can run the Turtle Trot, a 5K that follows grassy trails past wetlands, woodlands and prairies. Small prizes will be awarded for the fastest male, female and child times and the most unusual nature sighting spotted while running.

Canoeing will be offered on the nine-acre Kesling wetland. Canoes are provided.

Camping without the need to pack and cook food is a draw for some families. Weekend registration fees include Friday night s’mores and a hot breakfast and lunch. A wild edibles snacking table will supplement the more traditional fare.

Fancheon Resler will present a container Gardening Workshop. Participants should take their own a container to plant.

A new feature this year at NatureFest is a young adult track. It includes an off-trail hike led by Bill Minter, New Paris, who teaches land management courses at Merry Lea. Hikers ages 16 to 22 will see a perched bog and a ghost forest of tamarack trees.

Directions, schedules, activity descriptions and online registration are all available at http://merrylea.goshen.edu/. Registrations are due by Thursday. Weekend registration includes Saturday breakfast and lunch. Saturday-only registration includes lunch. Adults pay $5 for one activity, $10 for Saturday and $15 for the weekend. Children through college students pay $5 anytime.

For a schedule of events, go to http://merrylea.goshen.edu/ or call 260-799-5869.

The 1,189-acre Merry Lee nature preserve is located in central Noble County, midway between Fort Wayne and Goshen, south of Wolf Lake.

 

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Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

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