Nature's Abundance - 3rd annual Plant and Play held last week

May 24—Focusing on the role of farming and fresh foods was the overall message, but it was all fun and games to the children who participated in the yearly Plant and Play event at Rotary Park last week.

The event was hosted Thursday by Occupational Therapy Solutions, with some help from The Play Truck, and brought children from all backgrounds for an evening to learn through play.

Megan Angel delivered sensory tables for activities while other organizers focused on activities involving food. One involved cutting up fruits to create a unique design — one girl created an owl by using mandarin orange slices for wings, oblong sliced apples for the head and applying strawberries, grapes and other fruits for the accentuating pieces of the one-of-a-kind creation.

Paige Oliver said the object was to allow children — especially those with sensory issues — to touch the food and then create their own design.

Sensory tables were also a huge hit with the children, although some quickly learned that cutting a fresh ear of corn with a large plastic knife took much effort. Cantaloupe and other fruits and veggies, however, posed an easier challenge — and quickly wound up floating in the water section of the tables.

While Melissa Maxey with Massey Cattle Company and Jeremy Oliver of Occupational Therapy Solutions were planting some flowers in the tubs, the children played and learned about food and nature.

"We have displays of the life cycle of a butterfly for the children," Oliver said. "We have activities with fruit and vegetables to let the children touch the food, then try it. We want them to understand the importance of farming and planting."

The children had opportunity to plant seeds in two of the five tubs at Whitley Branch Veterans Park Sensory area.

"At the end of the evening, we're going to let them plant seeds," Oliver added. "Then they can come back and watch them grow. We have bags with information and they will also get to take a plant home with them."