SAIIER 2019:Udavi School vegetable garden
|Udavi School vegetable garden|
1. Last year we set up the garden with the 7th grade students. They had never participated in such a practical class before and in the course of the year set up four raised beds and grew vegetables. This year we spent time establishing the garden and offering practical food growing experience to students from 8th, 9th and 10th grades. This was possible because Ravikrishna is now a teacher at the school. Priya from Buddha Garden continued to visit at least once a week for the 7th grade (for whom the work was new) and the other three classes in rotation, one each week. Except during busy times when she came in as often as needed.
2. During this year we created more infrastructure as follows:
- a) Each set of students was divided into three groups, each of which had a bed to look after. Eight new beds were made, some with granite pillars and some with a mixture of granite pillars and parts of a demolished building.
- b) We created a separate storage for the garden as a safe place to keep all the tools.
- c) A proper irrigation system was installed to replace the old system which consisted mainly of second hand equipment from Buddha Garden. This has made irrigation much more efficient and easier to manage.
- d) A new water tap was installed with a cement surround and a better drainage system that is used to irrigate a nearby lemon tree.
- e) We purchased some much needed tools which enabled all the students to use whatever were the most appropriate tools to do the jobs.
3. This year the plants we grew were as follows:
- a) After cutting down a lot of work trees and other unwanted bushes we planted papaya trees around the perimeter of the garden. Each group was responsible for planting and looking after two trees.
- b) We planted banana bushes just outside the compound near the water tank. These were watered both by the students and the overflow from the tank.
- c) We grew a range of flower plants in pots to be used by the rest of the school as needed.
- d) The primary work for each grade was to grow vegetables and each group grew a range of seasonal vegetables. These were used in the school kitchen with surplus being taken home by students.
4. New developments:
- a) Something we have found difficult in previous years was to build compost heaps. The problem has been that each group didn’t create sufficient material to make their own heaps. Even if we collected all the groups’ material together unless it was used immediately to make a compost heap the material tended to get lost. A new process was created whereby at the end of each class all the weeds and other green material were put together. The students then collected twice as much brown material (mostly leaves) and mixed the green and brown material together. It was then put on the top of the compost heap together with compost powder (bokashi) and water. As a result there are now two compost heaps that will provide compost for next year’s beds.
- This had the added advantage that in regularly undertaking this task students began to understand that in nature nothing is wasted. That weeds and leaves are not things to be thrown away but an important resource to sustain the fertility of the garden.
- b) As in previous years we saved some seeds. Without a safe place and infrastructure to grow seedlings most of the seeds saved from previous years have not been used. For this reason our request for next year will be to build a small nursery for growing seedlings. Once students are able to collect and grow their own seeds and have mastered the art of making compost Udavi School vegetable garden will be completely sustainable and able to continue indefinitely.
This is how the garden looked at the end of March when the classes finished: