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Kerala school sets up hi-tech farm to provide safe vegetables for students, teach farming

The semi hi-tech farm at Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Model School at Varkala, Kerala. Image Credit: Special Arrangement

Concerned over increasing pesticide usage in farming and the need for fostering healthier eating habits among the younger generation, a school in Kerala has set up a semi-hi-tech farm at its campus. The innovative venture is aimed at cultivating a variety of pesticide-free vegetables and educating students about the significance of sustainable farming.

Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Model School at Varkala has set up the semi-hi-tech vegetable garden at a cost of Rs two lakh to not only educate the children about the importance of promoting sustainable farming practices but also to utilise the farm’s produce to provide wholesome and nutritious meals to the students. The semi hi-tech farm in 1.5 cents of land integrates the latest farming technologies for cultivating a diverse range of vegetables. The students are taught to grow vegetables in a nutrient-rich environment reducing the need for pesticides and chemical fertilisers.

The farm is cultivating different kinds of vegetables such as climbing varieties like long beans, salad cucumber, butternut squash, bitter gourd, snake gourd along with spinach varieties. “This is the first time that we have set up a vegetable garden in our school. Through textbooks, students only get to learn about traditional farming methods. But this semi hi-tech garden provides them hands-on experience on new farming techniques and generates interest in farming. As we do not use pesticides, we provide safe and healthy vegetables for the children for the meals,” said Sini S R, science club coordinator of the school.

Apart from a semi hi-tech garden with poly-house, an open precision garden has also been set up to cultivate vegetables like ladies’ finger and brinjal. The farm serves as an immersive classroom for students, where they actively participate in the farming process, from planting seeds to harvesting crops.

School principal Pooja S said “students are very curious and interested in learning about the new farming techniques. “We are also planning to undertake traditional farming in another 10 cents of land inside the school premises for the benefit of the children,” she added.

It was farming expert Aneesh N Raj who helped the school in setting up the semi-hi-tech farm.  Aneesh has implemented the project through his venture Anchal Fresh and he  says, “ This was one of my dream projects titled ‘Aksharamuttathu Krishi Thottam’ which was aimed at setting up vegetable gardens in schools. The garden provides the students to learn about the whole farming process from treating the soil to harvesting the vegetables. We are getting a lot of enquiries from schools in other parts of the state for setting up the semi-hi-tech vegetable garden,” he added.

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