We are growing our kitchen garden!
by Satish Mankar.
Our boys come from the street like shriveled up flowers – but when they get here .. they start to transform into healthy blooms.
Shikshan Gram is already a garden where we are growing healthy children – and now we are growing a garden to feed them healthy food.
We have 69 boys and 36 girls and here they are given everything they need.
We want to help them to become responsible citizens of this country and to teach them good habits, life skills and loving to each other so we provide many different programs.
Every day the children need food.. and this means they need good vegetables. Now we have to go to market to buy our supplies.
But we thought, what if we grow our own vegetables in our own kitchen garden?
The kitchen garden will give us many things. Not only healthy fresh vegetables without any nasty chemicals and pesticides, but we will avoid vegetables that spoil very quickly as ours will be fresh picked daily..
And of great importance. the children will have fun while helping in the garden and will rely learn the value of their food because they will have worked hard for it.
They will work the garden themselves and this will teach them to understand the value of effort. It will also connect them to the earth and give an understanding of the importance of our animals and their contribution to our lives.
Most city people have lost contact with the earth and some don’t even really know where their milk comes from. Our children certainly will.
We already have many fruit trees well established and most are growing well – these were planted February 2011.
The children all help with keeping the weeds down around these trees.. and also love going on expeditions up into the forest to plant other trees. And in the dry season they are great at keeping the trees watered.
So our new kitchen garden:
We started by leveling an area next to our banana patch .. lots of stones were there that had to be dug out .. and we used them to make a fence around the garden .. the children all helped bringing the earth to build the soil up and then it was time to get the cow dung as the earth was not very rich.
To me – the smell of the cow dung was better than the most expensive perfumes.. because it is beneficial for earth and all the living things and it brings all the microbes to the soil. If you don’t understand the benefit and the value of the cow dung.. then you can’t appreciate the smell.
The earth where we are planting is not very fertile so we put plenty of cow dung and are mixing compost into it. we will also plant some nitrogen fixing legumes to further build the soil and we collected earth worms from another place where we found them.. and put them into our new garden.
It was a great pleasure to see the children helping to bring up the cow dung from the cow shed. They made a game out of it.. and really worked together in teams which is very important..some of them got very creative and used their cycle to carry a crate full of cow dung all together in a team of five. Others carried the ‘topla’ or dish used in construction for carrying things on the head.
And of course they all got really dirty.. but when they had finished.. they stripped off and went swimming in the local pool.
What is next? We have already planted the seeds in a place where they can start to grow and then when they are healthy seedlings we will plant them into this new garden.
We have planted brinjal, coriander, spinach, chili, onions, pumpkin, cucumber, bottle gourd and bitter gourd.
This patch is a trial patch.. we plan to make a much bigger area for our kitchen garden soon.
Now we need to make compost, and bio-dynamic preparations so we can have a totally organic garden.
You are most welcome to visit our garden .. and we look forward to sharing some of our fresh and healthy produce with you. And if you feel like making a contribution in the form of plants or garden tools or seeds or anything you think that would be useful for our children we will thank you very much.
Our kitchen garden is growing with love… come and add some of yours to our wonderful compost!!