Children connect well to Nature and what better way to connect than to watch a garden grow in school? The sense of wonder, awe and reverence stays for life!- Journal Jotting
All of us are aware of the effects spending time in Nature has on us. Our students seldom get opportunities to appreciate Nature. One of the most effective ways of establishing this vital connection with Nature, is to start a school garden.
Growing your food has caught the imagination of many – it can actually do wonders to one’s health – both physical and mental health.
Start by identifying an area in the school where vegetables can be planted. If it’s possible, include gardening as a subject in the curriculum, across classes. If not , keep it specific for say, Class 3 students.
Prepare the soil. Add vermi compost / cocopeat. Make the preparation sacred by chanting mantras. Have students attend this small yet important ceremony. Some people carry out homa or sacred prayers and use the Agnihotra ash to enrich the soil. There are studies that confirm that the Agnihotra ash increase the micro flora and fauna , enriching the atmosphere and promoting the growth of the plants. There are specific sites that talk about the procedure to perform and use the Agnihotra ash.
Sow the seeds. Select seeds of plants that are hardy. Again students can be allowed to sow the seeds if possible. Or they can observe how the sowing is done. Students can be encouraged to sow seeds of common plants like tomatoes at home.
Water, prune and maintain. Let students watch the plants grow. If any pests need to be removed, show the pests to the students. They will learn what pests attack plants and how to control or remove the pests. You can initiate discussions around organic / natural farming, using bio pesticides.
Harvest. This will be a delightful experience. If it’s possible , allow students to take the produce. If the student numbers are large, you can create a Gardening club. The club members can then help in the harvesting of vegetables.
The activity is simple yet the lessons learnt can be many! The scope of this can be extended to :
a)Composting – link that to waste management and how home composting can reduce the waste generated and transform into a resource. Connect this to the reduction of plastic usage and why it is imperative to look at minimal packaging of any product.
b)Soil health – Ask questions around how healthy a soil is – the health is determined by the microbial or earthworms’ population, the minerals present in the soil. Compost / Vermi compost enrich the soil.
c)Pollinators – Studying the visits of pollinators and their significant roles can be extensive and interesting.
d)Food Miles – Understanding that when you grow food, the food miles reduce and make it fresh as ever can be a revelation.
If it is not possible to involve students at every stage, share instructions on how to grow micro greens at home. Discuss the advantages of eating microgreens. It is fascinating how nutrients are packed into the seedling to help it thrive. Let them bring microgreens / sprouts once a week for breakfast or lunch.
The options to learn and connect what you see in the garden outside and what you eat from your plant are limitless.
Celebrate the School Garden – Give it a name , have a day to celebrate the harvest time with songs, dance, stalls that can sell organic produce, art event….
You can look at these resources :