Creating a Classroom in a Kitchen Garden
At a remote school in Bageshwar, Uttarakhand, the kitchen garden has become a classroom where students learn about seasonal produce, good taste and nutrition. They consume these vegetables too.
Laraib Fatima Warsi 12 Oct 2023 11:16 AM GMT
Neeraj Pant carefully monitors the growth of the seeds he planted a month ago. There are bottle gourds, pumpkins, cucumbers, potatoes and brinjals he has sowed and he smiles his delight as he spots some of them sprouting small leaves or flowers.
The 47-year-old Pant is a school teacher at the Junior High School located in Rauliana village in Bageshwar district, Uttarakhand. He teaches social science to students of classes six, seven and eight. But, his heart lies in educating children about farming and respecting the food farmers in the country grow.
“I was saddened to see so many of my students thought of farming and gardening as something of a menial job. I wanted to change that perception in them,” the teacher told Gaon Connection.
Pant has taught at this school for about eight years, and in 2015, he hit upon the idea of starting a kitchen garden in the school.
Ever since then, about 200 students have taken part in this gardening initiative. They have sown, watered and harvested the vegetables that they cultivated in the school garden. Tending the school kitchen garden has become a part of their daily activities at school.
Pant ensures he has a basket of fresh fruits like peaches, guavas and amla picked, washed and kept ready every day to be served to the 48 students at lunch.
“The vegetables that we harvest supplement the midday meals. Freshly harvested vegetables straight from our garden goes into making the lunch menu extra tasty and nutritious,” he said.
Pant believes that having a kitchen garden and growing vegetables and fruits that make it to the children's food is a way of ensuring they have a good nutritious meal.
“Also, growing food teaches the children about the source of their food, how difficult and exacting cultivating fruits and vegetables can be, and how gardening is crucial to the ecology and their health,” he pointed out.
Garima, a student of class eight, enjoys gardening. “Since Pant sir has made this kitchen garden, we eat lots of vegetables and fruits and they are fresh and tasty. I never thought I would be eating vegetables that I grow,” she exclaimed.
“I have learnt each step of growing vegetables and fruits and storing them carefully. I ensure nothing goes to waste,” Garima, who also loves cooking, told Gaon Connection.