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Compost Centre is growing future gardeners

They’re supposed to be working, but the handful of kids tending to their garden can’t help but stop for a quick nibble.

“That’s what we want,” Elaine ‘The Compost Dive’ Jansen says as the kids snack on some kale.

Eating vegetables that are planted, nurtured and tended to by their own hands is just one of the lessons Jansen is teaching the community’s children at the Comox Strathcona Solid Waste Management’s Compost Education Centre.

The centre is now open for the season and is continuing on with its popular Plant A Row, Grow A Row program which promotes healthy eating and giving back to the community.

The gardens, which are tended to by school groups and this year, two young local families, will be planted with vegetables like squash, broccoli, kale, carrots, cucumbers, beets, onions, peas and peppers.

And it’s up to the kids to look after the gardens.

“They’re going to be prepping the gardens, planting the garden, nurturing it and then harvesting it,” Jansen says.

During the harvest, some of the produce will be donated to the community’s soup kitchen as a way to help out the city’s most vulnerable.

The rest is for the kids who help grow the vegetables.

“We’re encouraging them to eat right out of the garden,” Jansen says. “So they can snack without eating processed foods.”

The program also promotes physical activity, a respect for nature, sustainability and the benefits of composting.

Jansen says the two families participating this year in the program are gaining an understanding of how to grow their own food properly and are benefitting from space at the Compost Education Centre that wouldn’t otherwise be available at their own home.

In addition to Plant A Row, Grow A Row, Jansen says this season will see lots of upcoming workshops to provide tips and information on topics such as composting, organic gardening, pesticide awareness and more.

The centre is open Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. and is located at 228 South Dogwood Street next to St. Peter’s Anglican church.