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Every spring at OSNS, community partners join to replant their community garden with fresh veggies and beautiful flowers. Children spend the rest of the season tending to and harvesting the goodies.

Story by Chelsea Powrie – See the Castanet story here

Most of us remember the dreaded parental command at supper time: “Eat your veggies!”

Plenty of kids are picky eaters and are reluctant to try vegetables, which is why Penticton’s OSNS Child and Youth Development Centre started finding ways to change that.

“One of the things that many of our kids struggle with is just having healthy relationships with food right from the start,” said executive director of the centre Manisha Willms. “A lot of families are busy, they’re stressed, so some of the kids get really used to fast food and they are not willing to try out food from the garden or fresh vegetables.”

On Thursday morning, experts from GardenWorks and Home Hardware brought plenty of plants, like tomatoes, carrots and lettuce, to the centre and helped toddlers and kids put them in planters.

“What we’ve found is if we’re able to plant vegetables with them, and they’re able to watch them grow and participate in that, they are much more likely to try them,” Willms explained. “It helps them get turned on to the idea of eating salads.”

The program is now in its fourth year, and the kids get very excited about participating and learning about how plants grow from small seedlings into nutritious food. They also got to see the difference between various plants, and label the ones they put in the ground.

“When I planted in the garden, I put the sign in front of the pumpkins when I was done planting them,” explained five-year-old Matt. “I put them in the garden then I covered the dirt over their roots so that the roots don’t go in the air.”

Some of the toddlers didn’t necessarily grasp the whole concept, but they definitely had fun playing in the dirt.

Willms said it’s always a joy to see the employees from Home Hardware and GardenWorks interact with the kids.

“They’re planting with the kids, they’re teaching the kids about roots and soil, just what a great learning opportunity for all the many kids who come here,” she said.

The children will continue to care for the plants until the vegetables are ready for a delicious taste-test.