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Jefferson Award Winner provides farm experience for all to enjoy

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ONALASKA, Wis. (WXOW) - Clearwater Farm is a community space on three acres in Onalaska.

Shari Collas is the President and says the non-profit is there to educate the public and allow them to experience the joys of farming.

Shari first came to know about the space when she answering an ad in the paper about ten by ten garden spots for fifty dollars on a former
Onalaska farm.

After a few weeks Shari and the other gardeners loved the space so much that they came up with an idea to buy the space and turn it into an urban
oasis.

"We all got together and it started with the gardens and there were no fences. Barely a driveway, pretty rundown…just a farm! We started with the garden, go that under control but then they thought …you can't have a farm without animals," said Shari.

Shari says you'd be amazed how many people enjoy the farm…adults especially.

"We have black sheep out here and they thought they were buffalo. Lots of passersby say look at that little mini buffalo and I'm like 'That's a sheep'. It's interesting people just don't understand the sounds they make. Like the donkeys when they are really braying. What's wrong, what's wrong? They're just communicating with me saying 'Hey I know you, come and feed me'," said Shari.

Clearwater Farm also provides a safe outdoor space for agencies that serve people with disabilities like Aptiv and Chileda.

The farm's main goal is to provide rare opportunities for kids and adults who never grew up on a farm. Shari says you would be surprised to learn what the volunteers say they enjoy the most.

"Cleaning. Believe it or not. That's one of the hits for the day camp kids is to clean up in the barn. Sweep up the manure and fill the water bowls. It's just something they've never done before so it's very interesting," said Shari.

But mostly, everyone comes to see the animals.

"If you're having a bad day and that animal just comes up and rubs up against you and says…'Hey, it's OK.' You know. I have a love for this farm and I'll never give up," said Shari.

Heather Armstrong

Heather anchors Live at 5 and co-anchors the weekday 6 & 10 PM newscasts

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