A soiled uniform and calloused hands are enough to invite the ire of any school-going child’s parent. However, these make parents of students at Goregaon’s Pragnya Bodhini High School proud. The students have converted their school’s concrete terrace into a garden full of vegetables, spices, flowers and medicinal plants.
What initially started off as a school project in 2011 to make children eco-sensitive, is now handled by students. The school also has an optional graded subject of gardening, approved by the education department in 2013 for students of classes 9 and 10.
Around 120 plants of 25 varieties cover the terrace’s 2,000 square feet of space.
Vegetables such as potatoes, cabbage, trees like lemon and chikoo and medicinal as well as flowering plants are grown in the garden, which has been named Amita Chirag Shaikh in the memory of the school’s founder.
From making manure and weeding the soil to watering the plants, everything is done by the students, says Sunil Patel, a teacher in charge of the garden.
“Besides adding to the city’s green cover, we wanted to promote the idea of sustainable living among students. We did not have a big ground and thought of utilising our terrace to turn it into a garden,” said principal Seema Shaikh.
The students are also in charge of accounts, sales and functioning of the garden. With posts such as CEO and managing directors, a committee of 20 students from classes 7 to 9 look after the garden. A special period during school hours has been kept aside for volunteers to help out with the gardening.
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“First I used to think that gardening was boring. But all that changed when we started planting seeds and watched our saplings grow. It is really cool to have a garden just above our heads and our friends from other schools are always a little jealous about it,” said class 8 student Prerana Khade, the CEO.
Appreciating the school’s efforts, an official from the garden department of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), said that terrace gardens and green walls are the way to go in this space-constrained city.
“Terrace and balconies are the only options left for people to enhance greenery around them. All new buildings should incorporate terrace gardens and green walls in their design. Meanwhile, existing gardens should take care of water seepage and additional load to the building structure while planning such gardens,” said the BMC official.