Maintaining a kitchen garden is not compulsory but we introduced this as a part of activity based learning environment. Since most of our children come from poor farmers background and they show keen interest in gardening. So we fixed the last period for this work. The kitchen garden is about 200 sq.mts (20X10 m). The vegetables like Papaya, drumstick leaves, beans, seasonal vegetables are mixed with Dal in the school’s mid day meals.
Children have a special sharing class for one hour on every Saturday. Children’s cabinet is formed and various activities like debate, essay writing, poster making, rally, one-act play etc are conducted. We listen to children’s success/failure while maintaining the kitchen garden and advise the, for necessary followup actions. Nospecial training for raising a kitchen garden is imparted to our children.
I have been working here since 10 yrs and never asked children to use chemical fertilizers or pesticides. In the beginning we were troubled by white ants, soil acidity and different diseases. Dr. Narayana Reddy’s columns helped us to face the problems. Soon we used green manuring and continous observation overcame the problems.
We use cowdung, neem leaves, deodar leaves for green composting. The school is surrounded by 25 coconut trees, 32 deodar and 5 neem trees. So the leaves with cow dung/water are composted in two pits alternatively. Vermicompost is not yet a big success to us. However, we experiment the same after gaining informal knowledge particularly from LEISA India and other booklets.
The biggest benefit we realized is that our children get practical knowledge on several environment science related competencies. And enjoy their lives at school. Their affinity to kitchen garden as well as school (their second home) is remarkably high. Besides children enjoy the fruit of their labour by eating the fruits and vegetables in their mid day meals.
Lat but not the least, most of my children belong to farmers families. Doing is believing and this belief lead every body to think independently and work as first generation educated farmers. The kitchen garden and compost pits are the most joyful tools for the children.
Shri Pradeep Kumar Mohapatra, Guhalpur, Orissa