In the garden

Scott Austin lends a hand to Ashton Konechy at the OSNS Learning Garden, Tuesday.

When children work in the Learning Garden, they reap what they sow and then some.

The garden, which held a party on Tuesday, operates as a learning tool with significant impact thanks to the OSNS Child Development Centre and a team of community facilitators.

“They’re learning without even knowing they’re learning, it’s learning through play,” said OSNS spokeswoman Susan Robinson.

“Something they also don’t even realize is that the community has come together to allow them to do this.”

While planting, maintaining and ultimately harvesting the fruits and vegetables, the children are able to work on a variety of skills, from increasing their vocabulary to developing their fine motor skills, an extension of the collaborative and multi-disciplinary approach utilized by OSNS in many cases.

“Using the garden is a way of weaving in goals from other therapists and other disciplines all at the same time,” said Shadi Asadi, a speech-language pathologist with OSNS.

“So hand-strengthening activities from the

occupational therapist while working on target vocabulary with the speech and language therapist.”

OSNS has received donations and continued support from GardenWorks and Home Hardware since the garden’s creation three years ago. Home Hardware donated the raised beds and GardenWorks provides the soil, plants and fertilizer on an ongoing basis.

“We really like to donate to community projects, and I don’t think there’s anything better than this,” said Crystal Baker from Home Hardware.

“Kids getting to grow their own veggies is just awesome. Both of my kids went here for playschool and I know they would have loved something like this.”

Scott Austin from GardenWorks knows the impact OSNS can have on developing children.

“Our son was followed by OSNS for the first year because he was premature,” said Austin, who also writes a regular column for The Herald. “We have that connection for our family, so it’s nice to be able to help them out.”

A troupe of children approached Austin to say thank you after he spent the morning picking strawberries and watering with them.

“Our community partners’ generosity has allowed and made this possible,” said Robinson. “And the kids are reaping the benefits, cultivating their own garden.”

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