A Great Pilot Project
Around 15,000 students from 150 schools of Medak district have been growing and eating healthy green vegetables, hand picked from their own school gardens. The schools are a part of the Student Amateur School Yard Agriculture (SASYA) project…
The Student Amateur School Yard Agriculture (SASYA) project has been piloted by the Centre for Environment Education’s (CEE) Andhra Pradesh state office, with support from UNICEF and Department of Education, Medak district. SASYA was initiated with the hope that school gardens would help
- Improve the school environment by making gardens
- Improve the nutrition standards of children by using the vegetables grown in the gardens
- Provide students an opportunity to learn about gardening and community engagement
Medak district was selected for implementation of the project on pilot basis as both UNICEF and CEE had been working intensively with the schools in this district through interventions such as providing infrastructure, environment education and sanitation awareness campaigns in schools etc in the district. Also, Medak district is a semi arid district with rain fed agriculture where there is scope for sustainable agricultural practices.
Planning the School Gardens
The teachers at school level developed the detailed plan and schedule of activities for their own school’s garden with the help of the Field Coordinators and some farmers from the village their school was located in.
The farmers helped identify suitable vegetables, and gave inputs on the sowing and maintenance schedule, how the programme would be monitored, technical help they would be able to provide from time to time etc. They also discussed how the community could contribute to the programme. Out of the 150 schools selected, gardens were initiated in 136 schools.
In addition to the inputs in the initial planning, the village community supported the programme all through the year. Community contributions came in the form of ready- to-sow plots to raise the nursery beds, seeds, ploughing and preparing the land, implements, farm yard manure, making a fence around the garden etc.
The village communities appreciated the initiative and agreed to provide their support for the gardens in the future as well.
Involvement of Teachers and Students
Teachers and students played an active role in initiation and maintenance of the garden. The students were engaged by the teachers in planning the garden, selection of vegetables by knowing their favourite varieties, and in identifying their own roles and responsibilities in maintaining it.
Student committees were formed by the teacher and field coordinator and responsibilities of each committee were vegetables grown in the gardens decided. The responsibilities included regular watering, weeding, harvesting, preparation of botanical extracts, compost pit maintenance etc. Some students took on the responsibility of tending the garden during the holidays.
Mid-day Meal Menu
Based on the menu of the mid-day meals, about thirteen types of vegetables were short-listed for growing in the garden. These include climbers, herbs, trees, tubers etc.
In some cases where the produce was more than what the school could use, the excess was taken by the teacher or the community or sold.
Teachers’ Manual and Information Support
A manual for teachers was developed in Telugu to help them conduct the programme. The manual contains information and activities on bottle drip irrigation and compost pits etc. Suggestions on which textbook lessons may be taught effectively with the garden have also been provided in the manual. The teachers maintained a record of the cultural operations carried out during each week, quantity of the produce, produce utilization, etc.
A bimonthly newsletter was circulated to share news and updates between the schools, the field coordinators and others involved in the programme.
The pilot project ended in 2007. Of the 136 schools that were able to develop gardens, 108 schools wanted to continue the activity in the coming year as well.
The success of this pilot project is proof of its scalability as well.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution – Non The village communities appreciated the initiative and Commercial – Share Alike 4.0 International License.”
Original article at http://vikalpsangam.org/article/medak- schools-grow-their-mid-day-meal/#.VGD1QYd1Nez