School Garden News – India

Green Lessons Bear Fruit

NATURE CLASS: Students of Sisuvihar UP School at the vegetable garden that they tender and with the ‘valkindi’ that teaches them water conservation.

THERE is something in the whole atmosphere of this school that makes one fall for it. It’s just not the tended gardens, well-kept classrooms or well-behaved students, but a strong determination to make a difference. And the efforts have paid off well. The Sisuvihar UP School, Vazhuthacaud, has won the Green School State Award instituted by the Biodiversity Board for commendable environmental activities of a school. On Monday, hours before the award was presented by Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan at the Thycaud Guest House, City Express joined the jubilant teachers and students at Sisuvihar. The Sree Sharada Devi Smaraka Sisuvihar UP School had caught headlines earlier too. The report on an innovative audio magazine, Spandanam, brought out by the students of this school was carried in these columns earlier. But nothing equals the environmental activities initiated here.

From ‘valkindis’ to conserve water to the medicinal herbs garden, the nature club of the school is active like anything. It had all started with the need to dispose the leftovers of the lunch brought by the children. The nature club got in touch with the Agriculture Department and the idea of installing a vermi-compost was born. The senior students belonging to class VII were given its charge. “It takes a minimum of three months before the vermi-compost actually yields result. So the idea of setting up a vegetable garden where this manure can be used was suggested and it was done,’’ says Sindhu, one of the teachers in charge of the nature club. The vegetable garden had everything to make a good feast. Long beans, amaranthus, lady’s finger, brinjal, bitter gourd, chilly and tomatoes. Last Onam, when the harvest was over, the nature club made a profit of nearly Rs 5,000 by selling the vegetables, while the capital was only Rs 2,000, says Sindhu.

School PTA president Pradeep and headmistress Vijayalakshmi are the silent inspiration for the students’ activities. The vegetable garden gradually paved way for a medicinal herbs garden with nearly 50 types of herbs, ranging from neem to koovalam, being planted here. With the gardens in full-bloom, the next problem that the students faced was shortage of water. It was then that the school experimented with the ‘valkindi’ project. “Two buckets are allotted to each classroom along with a single valkindi. The students have to use water from these buckets using the kindi to wash their hands or to clean their tiffin boxes. So, we saved water where, otherwise, the taps were opened unnecessarily and water was wasted,’’ says Akhil, nature club student member. The valkindis made in thick plastic were brought from Malappuram.

“ The students now know the importance of water. Even when they go home, they are careful to use water in a limited way, for they now know it’s precious,’’ says Sindhu.

The school had distributed 850 saplings to students under the ‘Ente Maram’ project. What’s more, they even have a ‘tree this month’ activity, where each month a specific tree is selected and students are made to collect information about them. The school also takes up environmental tours to Neyyar and Thenmala forest areas to introduce children to nature. It’s an unending list of activities and no wonder it has become the lone school in the State to have achieved the recognition. But it has only made them plan new ways to get closer to nature.

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