by Elton Gomes
Roughly 100 schools in Chennai will soon have a garden to tend to in order to grow vegetables for their mid-day meal scheme. A self-help group that has gained expertise in terrace gardening under the National Urban Livelihood Mission will soon be training teachers and students across various schools in Chennai.
Mageswari Ravikumar, deputy commissioner of education, told the Times of India: “Members of the SHG (self-help group) will train nearly 40 students who are part of eco clubs and the national green corps. These children will be provided with seeds and pots for 25 plants. They will grow the plants either in pots on terraces of the schools or in a small patch of land available inside the school premises.”
A member of the self-help group, Srirathi stated that a terrace garden has already been created at Annai Teresa Magalir Vazhagam near Valluvar Kottam; the plan is to replicate the same model in other corporation schools.
The green initiative has also received support from municipal officials, who have said that compost generated from wet waste will be used in this project. Once the project generates some income, the schools will attempt to generate their own compost, Ravikumar said.
A coordinator said that schools will be chosen on the availability of space. A selection process is already underway, as reported by the Times of India. As school gardens gain ground in India, initiatives like these will inculcate awareness among students. India tops the list in terms of bad air quality; school gardens are definitely one way to improve air quality.
School gardens promote sustainable ways to grow plants and vegetables – which will be of high value to students and teachers alike. More importantly, schools around India have realized the importance of having a terrace garden and are promoting gardening among their students. Here are some other examples.
Bhubaneswar school nurtures nutritional garden
In an attempt to encourage students to take up urban gardening, students and teachers of Sri Aurobindo School of Integral Education, Khandagiri, have created a “nutritional garden” in their school premises. Leafy vegetables, some perennial plants, and seasonal vegetables are grown in the school’s garden.
Rabindra Nath Padhi, the school’s principal, told the Times of India: “To inculcate a habit of healthy eating among children we thought of developing a nutritional garden in our school premises. Children were very interested and many of them have helped in gardening during their free time. They prepared fields, planted saplings and eagerly waited for the fruits to come.”
The garden is spread across 1,000 square feet, and students have grown coriander, mint and vegetables like tomato, beans, bitter gourd, cucumber, ivy gourd, ridge gourd, cow pea, brinjal, pumpkin, lady’s finger, and green chillies.
Initiative by the Department of Horticulture
In 2015, the Department of Horticulture distributed gardening kits in 500 schools in and around Mangalore. Each kit contained two varieties of tissue-cultured banana, Naendra and G-9, two seedlings of drumstick, two seedlings of papaya, a seedling of coconut, and seeds of approximately 10 different vegetables. The department further plans to distribute these kits within talukas.
A temperature controlled terrace garden in Tiruchi
The Cauvery Global School in Tiruchi developed a temperature controlled terrace garden that expands over an area of 1,000 square feet. Hill vegetables such as carrot, white radish, red radish, and beetroot can be seen growing in the school’s garden. Tomato, brinjal, bitter gourd, snake gourd, and several other vegetables are also grown there. Cactus, clustered barrel, and aloe plants are tended to as well.
Gardening, on the whole, is gradually gaining momentum across India. Apart from various initiatives in schools, citizens are making efforts in the field of organic farming. Different forms of gardens, such as vertical gardens, are becoming popular in Delhi and Pune. It can be said that if students learn gardening initiatives at school, they might be able to take organic farming to the next level in India.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius.
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