Advaith school grows it’s vegetables and fruits in its campus with the help and hands of our children. These vegetables and fruits are further supplies to our kitchen for school consumption. Most importantly, all of them are absolutely organic! The garden provides ample opportunity for making science inviting and relevant to students’ lives by inspiring active exploration and problem solving. The garden encourages inquiry as students use their senses, reasoning, and communication skills to find answers to questions. They not only sharpen their sensory, reasoning and communication skills but also learn the art of growing their own food which indeed in the most required skill in the years to come. The students in group are given small pieces of land to step in to the shoes of a farmer and experience the joy of growing food! The till their land and sow the seeds they desire. They understand the proportions of soil and manure and apply it to their garden and water their plants appropriately. They remove the weeds to protect their crop finally harvest their crop. The harvest brings a feeling of ownership to the students and also when the share their harvest with their teachers an friends it develops an attitude of sharing.
As the gardening program is done in groups students learn delegation, team work, and negotiation, mutual and self-respect. They develop all the leadership qualities to face the worlds with confidence. Working in the natural environment gets them more attached with the nature; this makes them aware of the causes of environmental pollution and ways to avoid it. The school has developed a curriculum for gardening which encompasses square foot and vertical gardening. Our gardening is a totally chemical free practice where we use only organic products as manure and pesticides. We use Panchagavya as manure and Agnihastra as a pest repellent. Our children are taught the formulae for preparation of these organic products and they prepare by themselves and apply it to their plants.
Till date our students are experts in growing varieties of greens, beans, cabbage, cauliflower, brinjals. They have mastered the art of cultivating flowers like rose, chrysanthemum and marigolds. They are experts in pest management and they are also well aware of the seasonal crops and the type of care they need. The educative effect of gardening upon the students of carrying out through the whole season plans for cultivating a garden is one of the best outcomes of our garden curriculum. The cultivation of plants requires constant attention, forethought, intelligence, self-reliance and a kind of originality; difficulties are to be met and overcome. Insects infest the plants and must be gotten rid of; rodents may spoil the garden and a fence is needed for protection which will be planned by the children them self; the days will demand extra watering which will make children to plan of watering; weeds quickly take possession of a garden; and the child must be intelligent and thoughtful in meeting such difficulties. This is the best kind of training.
The school garden also helps them to learn geography by learning the directions of their planting and the topology of that particular place. The garden also helps them to learn marketing and advertising skills as they try to sell their products to their fellow students. They learn the traditional skill of bartering by exchanging their crop products.
The garden curriculum encourages healthy eating amongst our children. Today as we know most children are addicted to junk food and suffer from deficiencies leading to serious health complications. Growing fruit and vegetables has helped students to revise attitudes about particular foods students are trying to eat vegetables they have grown themselves and ask for them at home. This influence is taken back home, has helped improve their family’s shopping and meal choices. Gardening activities are fantastic for helping children engage in a way that is more difficult in the classroom. It allows for surprises to arise, for example, when plants are afflicted with fungus, how the weather and seasons can impact the growth of different crops and how different insects that are enticed by different plants arise as a question and they seek for answers instead of depending for answers.
Watching plants grow is a fun and educational experience for children. Their enormous curiosity and excitement over anything new makes them get attached to gardening. This helps them to learn how nature grows with interest. The progressive garden curriculum enables the students to master the techniques and opportunities are given to the students to reciprocate their knowledge to their juniors. This connects students to the natural world and helps create responsible caretakers of the planet. School garden classes that happen periodically ultimately contribute to connections-between students, teachers, community, food, nature and sustainability.