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Oregon City Farmers Market kids club expands

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Kids between 5 and 12 sign their 'passport to health' at a check-in booth, get a POP button and reusable shopping bag, and receive $2 every time they come to the market

As the market opens for the summer season on May 6, Oregon City Farmers Market's Power Of Produce (POP) Club has become fully funded year-round.

Kids between 5 and 12 sign their "passport to health" at a check-in booth, get a POP button and reusable shopping bag, and receive $2 every time they come to the market to spend on fresh produce or food planting starts. During every Saturday market day last summer, the POP kids could participate in different activities such as seed planting, salad making, flour grinding, freezer-jam making, etc.

Janet Weber, president of the Clackamas County Master Gardeners educated through OSU Extension Service, said she witnessed the beginnings of the POP Club in May 2011. Last year, the market signed up 1,207 kids, resulting in 4,307 kid shopping trips for the year.

"It is truly a testament to the power of produce," Weber said. "And now to witness how it has flourished over the years, and is now mimicked by other markets across the country and globe, is such a huge testimony in how the market has been so groundbreaking in teaching and educating youngsters how to grow their own food, eat more fruits and vegetables, and to support their local farmers and economy."

The POP Club costs the market approximately $14,000 to run, and Clackamas Master Gardeners awarded $8,000 and the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District has awarded $6,000 for it.

Recognizing that the POP Club helps not only the kids but the farmers, too, Cathy McQueeny, outreach and education specialist for the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District, is proud of the continuing support they have been able to provide for the market's award-winning POP Club for the past seven years.

"Educating consumers and young children to the benefits of fresh and healthy local food is good for our local agricultural producers and our community," McQueeny said. "This year the district is encouraging other markets we support to develop their own POP clubs because the program is a proven benefit for farmers and market customers."

The market's summer season starts 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 6, in the Clackamas County employee parking lot, 2051 Kaen Road, off Beavercreek Road in Oregon City.