It started with an idea – how practical it would be if we could get schools to grow their own gardens. It would not only give children a hands-on experience with organic gardening, pests and plants, but also enable them to enjoy the produce in their mid-day meals.
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I discussed this idea with our mentor Dr B N Vishwanath and fellow members of the Garden City Farmers Trust, an NGO working to spread awareness on organic urban farming. We got an immediate thumbs up. Then began my search for funds; I wrote a proposal for a grant. Thanks to Johnson Controls, an MNC with office in Indiranagar – a special thanks to one of its Directors Subramani Varadaraj – what started off as a dream was about to become real.
I then approached Fr Henry Saldanha, Principal of Loyola School, Bannerghatta road. I had been interacting with him for a while as I was teaching Ultimate Frisbee to the school children. He welcomed the proposal without a second thought. A group was formed in the school soon after, mainly of students from 8th and 9th standards, guided by Botany teacher Kanthraj C R, Br Norwin Antony Perira and Sports teacher Jeevarathna E. The team called itself the Eco Club. Dr Vishwanath facilitated a short training for the club on gardening.
On 3rd September 2010, Eco Club members set up the terrace garden with help from GCFT. We set up 15 garden boxes with a variety of plants like dhantu (amaranthus), sabbakki (sago), kothambari (coriander), bhindi (lady’s finger), radish, brinjal and tomato.
In just over 25 days we had our first harvest. We harvested close to 3 kg of dhantu and arave which was used, as originally intended, in mid-day meals. Children enjoy the experience and maintain the garden themselves, with guidance from teachers. Three more garden boxes have been added now. It gives an immense sense of pride, satisfaction and hope.
We look forward to replicating this in other schools as well.⊕