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Bhubaneswar schools impart organic farming education
Many Bhubaneswar schools, supported by organisations like Living Farms, are working to instil healthy eating habits, foster food literacy, teach culinary skills, and educate children about the environmental, social, and health consequences of their food choices.
The Shikshadaan International School makes it sure that the day-care students and the staff eat fresh and organic food in every meal. Such measure of the school will go a long way in making the students adopt a healthy life and lifestyle, believes school principal Kumud Mohapatra.
Apart from several education awareness programmes in the school on the necessity of embracing an organic way of life, the school has developed a small nutrition garden recently to facilitate a bsic understanding of organic farming practices among the students.
Mohapatra said, “As space crunch has been a major problem, initially the garden has been developed on 500 sqft of land, where seeds of seasonal vegetables and fruits were sown. The saplings will be planted after monsoon becomes regular. The small garden has turned into an educational site for the school, where we facilitate experiential lessons on food, nutrition, and farming. We mentor the children to grow plants and produce their own vegetables at home. We also hosted a summer programme to empower and encourage students to grow their own food.”
The school has been tied up with a local women group, which grows and supplies organic fruits, vegetables and other organic products like milk. Krishiv Singh Solanki, a school student, maintained that nothing is more interesting than sowing a seed, apply manure and water to it and see it growing. “As we are learning it from the school we developed a small vegetable garden on the terrace of our house. It gives immense satisfaction to pick a fresh vegetable and add it to the kitchen.”
Jayadev Siksha Kendra in Patia area, one of the most densely populated places in the city, too does not have much room for agriculture. However, to ensure that its hostel students have access to freshly produced organic food and learn the basics of organic farming, the school opted for growing seasonal vegetables like bitter gourd, bottle gourd, pumpkin, tomatoes and lady’s finger on its rooftop. They developed a beautiful garden by placing at least 60 grow-bags with the help of experts.
According to school headmaster Pradip K Pani, “We are always concerned about providing organic food to our students as organically produced foods have higher nutritional content and greater healing properties than commercially produced foods.”
Pradyumna Pani of Class-IX, one among the students enthusiastic to learn and apply farming techniques, said it is interesting to develop light soil using cocopit, organic fertiliser and vermi-compost. Use of grow bags to develop gardens on rooftops is amazing as it does a little damage to the terrace.
Sri Aurobindo Integral Education Centre, Khandagiri, seeks to spread awareness on the importance of growing and consuming safe and healthy food among the students. The school believes in the importance of gardens and kitchens as classrooms. It aims at empowering students to make healthy food choices, not only for themselves but also for communities surrounding them, said its teacher Rabindra Kumar Padhi who is at the helm of activities concerning organic farming in the school.
They have created garden at the backyard of the school where they grow greens and vegetables on raised beds to contribute to the safe food requirement of the school canteen.
Dr Jagatbandhu Mohapatra, project coordinator, India for Eco-Food Campaign, Living Farms, said the right to safe and uncontaminated food is a fundamental right. “In our country, the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 provides necessary safeguards to the citizens in order to maintain the quality of food. However, the Green Revolution that aimed at producing more, promoted application of chemicals and pesticides.
As many as 24 pesticides registered and extensively used in our country have been classified as potential carcinogens by the US EPA. In such context we are trying our best to inculcate safe food practices among children from the very beginning.”
Abhisek Dwivedy, campaign coordinator, Living Farms, maintained that the Safe Food campaign rolled out in February, 2017 in Bhubaneswar, focuses on education awareness events with school and college students and development of organic gardens on the school premises.
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